HOW TO PRAY USING THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM
BY: E. M. ‘ED’ DUPAS
APRIL 22, 2002
QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE ASKED ABOUT JESUS’ PRAYERS:
- Why was Jesus rarely ever seen praying (petitioning the Father) as he went about ministering on the
- What were Jesus prayers like when He spent time alone with the Father?
QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE ASKED ABOUT YOUR OWN PRAYERS:
- Why is it that sometimes when in prayer I have literally felt a witness or assurance that my prayer was being heard and answered?
- On the other hand, why is it that sometimes I have found myself travailing in prayer with the feeling that the “heavens were as brass,” so to speak, sensing that my petitions were not reaching the throne of the Most High?
When considering my own prayer life, I have found myself in both of these latter situations, without understanding why. I had been led to believe that if my prayers were not “getting through” it was because I was somehow not right with the Father. How wrong I was! Recently it has been revealed to me that the difference between the above two scenarios concerning my prayer life is that in the first I was asking for something the Father was ready to answer, and in the second I was not.
“…And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:18-19) (KJV)
What do you suppose Jesus meant by the above words? The notion that the church would be built upon Peter, the “rock” has become the foundation for much of what we see in the visible church today. For example, the office of the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church is claimed to be traceable back to Peter, alleging that Jesus’ intent was for Peter to be the first head of the church, and that the model has been preserved to this day. It is not wise nor is it productive to question that model, but it IS prudent to note that the bible says, “…Wisdom is justified of her children.” (Matt. 11:19) The New American Standard Version states it more clearly, “…Wisdom is vindicated by her children.” This is another way of saying “You will know the tree by the fruit that it bears.” If the “gates of Hades” seem to be overpowering a church, we are right to question whether that church was founded on the true rock. By the way, “Peter,” or petros, refers to a pebble or stone, not a rock. This writing is not meant to judge any church denomination, but to call into question whether we have the right understanding of Jesus’ words in the above verses. Verse 19 is frequently used as a formula for prayer, where people bind and loose things, often without an understanding of what is supposed to happen. Both of these interpretations seem to have been pulled out of context to support ideas quite different from what Jesus had in mind. This so often happens – we find single scripture verses to support and justify our perceptions, but these perceptions may not harmonize with the full counsel of God’s word.
Why don’t we look at these verses in a different way – as though Jesus were saying “The gates of Hades will not overpower my church, and here is why… because I will give you (my disciples/church) the keys of the kingdom.” [By the way, Jesus’ true church will live IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, which is within them (Luke 17:21) It can be very helpful to have keys to the place you “live.”] Jesus’ words have remained mysterious throughout the centuries, although many claim to understand them. To even begin to understand the meaning of His words, we must know WHAT JESUS KNEW when he spoke these words.
Let’s start by becoming clear about what was said: Jesus said, “…the keys OF the kingdom…” not “…the keys TO the kingdom.” The difference is important, if one is to live in the kingdom. If a person lives in an apartment house, there is an important difference between the key to the building, and the keys of the building. The key to the building can get you in the front door, but you may be standing in a lobby with little or no access to anything else without one or more additional keys. So it is with the kingdom of heaven. Being born again is the key TO the kingdom, but if one is to dwell there, and possess the land, as it are, he must have a way to access every part OF the kingdom.
Jesus’ words about binding and loosing are hinting at the MOST POWERFUL WAY TO PRAY – to open and close doors that are found within the kingdom of God here on earth. However, like many valuable treasures, this knowledge is buried deep in the word. Incidentally, in this writing the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are used interchangeably, for there should be no doubt that these mean the same thing (compare Matt. 11:11 to Luke 7:28, as one example).
In order to gain a little more understanding of what Jesus must have had in mind, we’ll have to get out our shovels and dig deeper into the word of God. That will enable us to shine the light of more truth into four areas:
1. BINDING AND LOOSING MUST HAPPEN FIRST IN HEAVEN (THE SPIRIT REALM), AND THEN UPON THE EARTH.
Most of us have spent time with individuals who proceeded to verbally “bind” a spirit or other thing, expecting it to then be bound in the heavenlies. This is widely practiced, but it is based on a false understanding of one bible verse. This verse has been inaccurately rendered in virtually all popular versions of the bible. It appears identically in both Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. Earlier we included the King James version of this verse, which reads:
“Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Now look at a more literal rendering of the Greek:
“Verily I say to you, whatever things ye may bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever things ye may loose on the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.” Matthew 18:18-20 (Young’s Literal Translation)
Do you see the difference? The King James version (and most other popular versions) lead (allow) us to believe that we bind things on earth first, causing them to be bound in heaven (the spirit realm). This is exactly the opposite of what Jesus said. Paraphrasing what He said… “whatever you bind/loose on earth will be what is already bound/loosed in the spirit realm.” Now how do you suppose things become bound in the spirit realm? THE FATHER DOES IT, WHEN TWO OR MORE AGREE CONCERNING HIS WILL.
2. PHYSICAL THINGS, SITUATIONS, EVENTS ON EARTH HAVE THEIR COUNTERPARTS IN THE SPIRIT REALM (HEAVEN).
Next, we must get to know more about the relationship between the spiritual realm (often called “heaven” in the bible) and the physical realm (earth). Just looking at Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:19 (included above) shows us that such a relationship does exist. Not only does that relationship exist, but also it can be reasonably assumed that physical things, situations, events on earth have their counterparts in the spirit realm (heaven).
Consider the following verses, for example:
“…Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as (it is) in heaven.” (Matt. 6:18)
This verse tells us the Father’s will ought to be done here on earth as in heaven. If this means that God’s will is to be done in earth exactly the way it is done in heaven (spirit realm), then there would have to be comparable things and situations in both realms. For example, how could God’s will for His Church be done in earth as in heaven unless there were an earthly church and a heavenly (spiritual) church? On the other hand, Jesus might have meant that we are to ask for the Father’s will to be done fully and perfectly in earth because it is done fully and perfectly in heaven. The latter meaning is reasonable, and commonly understood to be what Jesus meant, but there are other scripture verses suggesting that the former is true, or actually, both these positions are true. Look at the following:
“Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father (who is) in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:18-20) (NASB)
In verse 19 above, Jesus said that anything two people agree upon here on earth WILL BE DONE FOR THEM BY THEIR FATHER (WHO IS) IN HEAVEN (Note that the words “who is” shown in parentheses are not in the original Greek writing, but have been added by the translators. Omitting these two words opens the way for an interpretation that says “My Father will do it in heaven,” instead of the traditional “My father who is in heaven will do it on earth.” Can you see that FOR GOD TO DO WHAT WE ASK IN HEAVEN (the spiritual realm) THERE MUST BE SOMETHING IN HEAVEN FOR HIM TO DO IT TO?
Also, please look again, as if for the first time, at Matthew 18:19. Notice that Jesus said “…if two of you agree ON EARTH about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father (who is) IN HEAVEN” (the spirit realm). You probably feel that you understand this verse, and are settled upon its meaning. Well, let me ask you one question… Has it been working for you as Jesus promised? I mean, He said ‘…ANYTHING that you may ask.’ Are you willing to take another look at the verse, just in case there is a kingdom secret hidden there?
Think about the choice of words “if two of you agree ON EARTH.” Why did Jesus say “on earth?” In the common interpretation of these verses these two words seem unnecessary, because there are no people except on earth, so why did the Holy Spirit add these words? And why did Jesus say “…by my Father IN HEAVEN?” By now it is well established that God is in heaven (the spirit realm). The proper understanding is that Jesus was giving a hidden principle… two agree on earth (physical realm), and the Father will do it in heaven (spiritual realm). This tends to support the preceding verse, which tells us that we are to allow/permit on earth things that have (already) been allowed/permitted in the spirit realm.
There are other passages of scripture to suggest similarities between the physical and spiritual realms:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. THERE IS A NATURAL BODY, AND THERE IS A SPIRITUAL BODY. (1 Cor. 15:44) (KJV)
The Apostle Paul states that both a (man’s) natural body and spiritual body exist at the same time, and this verse is quoted only to support that (though the two bodies are essentially different). Paul did not say there IS a natural body and there WILL BE a spiritual body. He said they both ARE, and that the spiritual body WILL BE raised up.
The Hebrew tabernacle clearly has corresponding physical and spiritual counterparts:
“… And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them, according to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” (Ex. 25:8-9) (KJV),
– and –
“… They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” (Heb. 8:5) (NRSV)
These two verses reveal that the tabernacle on earth was to be just like (according to the pattern of) the heavenly, or spiritual tabernacle.
The above examples are far from proving that there are parallel earthly and heavenly (spiritual) existences of ALL things, as the Greek philosopher Plato claimed, but they enable us to hold on to this as a real likelihood, while we consider another foundational notion:
3. GOD ACCOMPLISHES HIS WORK ON THE EARTH THROUGH MEN, (not independently of them) EITHER THROUGH THEIR ACTIONS, OR THROUGH THEIR PRAYERS/REQUESTS; FREQUENTLY THROUGH PARTICULAR MEN WHOSE WILLS ARE ALIGNED WITH HIS.
John Wesley stated that “God does nothing on the earth save in answer to believing prayer.” This suggests that God has limited his work on earth to the willingness of men to act and to pray. Many believers are uncomfortable with the notion that God depends upon man to do His work here on earth, feeling that it might somehow elevate man or belittle God. This ought not to be a problem, for there is no way that God, who holds all power, knowledge and glory can be belittled or threatened in any way. Perhaps you will even agree that God’s wisdom and glory are shown more in this way than if He acted independently of man. After all, did God not “wait” four thousand years to introduce the right MAN into the earth?
Other learned theologians have offered compelling proofs that God indeed works in this way – three such men are Dutch Sheets, (Intercessory Prayer); E. M. Bounds (Purpose in Prayer); and Paul Bilheimer (Destined for the Throne), so I will not go into detail here, other than to remind the reader of two scripture verses:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and FILL THE EARTH, AND SUBDUE IT; AND RULE OVER THE FISH OF THE SEA AND OVER THE BIRDS OF THE SKY, AND OVER EVERY LIVING THING THAT MOVES ON THE EARTH.” (Gen. 1:26-28) (NASB) Emphasis added.
– and –
The heavens are the heavens of the LORD; BUT THE EARTH HE HAS GIVEN (i.e. assigned) TO THE SONS OF MEN. (Ps. 115:16) (NASB) Emphasis added.
An important premise of understanding the keys of the kingdom is that God DOES something in the spiritual realm, and waits on man to EXECUTE/DECLARE/RELEASE it in the earthly realm. Time and again in scripture, men are commanded to pray and ask for something that we know to be the will of God, (e.g., I Kings 1:41-45; Zech. 10:1; Matt. 6: 8-13; Eph. 1:16 ff). Can there be any conclusion, after reading these verses, other than that OUR PRAYERS/REQUESTS SOMEHOW RELEASE THE POWER AND WILL OF GOD UPON THE EARTH? This conclusion seems consistent with Ps. 115:16, which says God has “assigned” the earth to men, and with Amos 3:7, which says the Lord will not do anything (on earth) without letting his prophets (men) in on it. If this is true, then it allows God to hold man accountable for the earth (Rev. 11:18). By the way, this accountability for the earth does not include accountability for other men, over whom man was not granted dominion. In His word GOD has revealed many times His requirement for perfect justice. That perfect justice WILL NOT HOLD MAN ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE RESULTS if God overrides man’s will and actions without man’s consent or knowledge. Think of a corporation where authority and responsibility are delegated to a manager. If his superior steps in and overrides the manager’s actions and decisions without invitation, the manager can no longer be held accountable for the results. No, my brothers and sisters, God will accomplish His work on earth in cooperation with the likes of you and me, or others unlike you and me. If He chooses to do otherwise, He cannot hold us accountable for the results.
4. WE RECEIVE FAITH BY HEARING THE (SPOKEN) WORD OF GOD
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God.” (Rom. 10:17) (KJV)
This is another important part of understanding the keys of the kingdom. The Apostle Paul wrote that we receive faith by hearing the “rhema” of God. It is crucial that we recognize there is a difference between the Greek word ‘logos,’ which has a connotation of general understanding, reason, cause or explanation, and the Greek word ‘rhema,’ which connotes an appropriate word (typically spoken) at the right time. For these purposes “rhema” means a word spoken to your spirit by the Holy Spirit. An illustration could be that the Holy Spirit gives you a ‘rhema’ that provides understanding of some scripture (logos) while you are reading it. This can also happen at other times, such as when someone prophesies, or when one is alone with the Lord. Faith in what the “rhema” says is imparted along with the word. You might be asking the Lord to tell you His will concerning a matter. If you believe He revealed it to you, you may find yourself praying about it with considerable confidence (faith), knowing you are aligned with His will.
“…And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) (KJV)
– also –
“Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight”. (1 John 3:21-22) (KJV)
We have been looking at several scriptures, laying the foundation for prayer, using the keys of the kingdom. To summarize these four areas once again, they are:
1)Our heavenly father’s plan for mankind calls for us to be instruments and executors of His will on the earth.
2)God’s has established a relationship between the earthly and the spiritual realms such that the earthly realm is to respond to what happens in the spiritual realm. By the way, this can work for good or for evil.
3)He speaks His will to one or more individuals by His spirit. This word (Greek: ‘rhema’) is accompanied by the power/faith to believe the word is true.
4)Binding and loosing must occur first in “heaven,” and then on the earth
With this in mind, the following is an outline for the activity of prayer, using the keys of the kingdom:
1)The Father speaks his will or intention to two or more individual’s spirits. Along with that word comes faith to believe for it. (Rom. 10:17)
2)Then these individuals come into agreement concerning the matter. This agreement must be of the heart, not just mental assent – the kind of agreement that comes with faith that the thing should be done. Note that sufficient faith for this heart-level agreement can only come from being aligned with God, having heard His will.
3)The Father comes into agreement with them (because it is His will they are asking for), and grants their request in the spiritual realm (1 John 5:14-15). Many times believers will feel a “release” or other inner witness that something was accomplished. They may even know in their hearts that the matter is settled in the heavenlies. Remember that persistence in prayer may be required here, for reasons only God knows, as with Elijah praying seven times for rain which God had promised to bring.
4)The petitioners then bind (forbid) or loose (permit) the thing by speaking the matter into existence in the earth, WITH THE ASSURANCE THAT IT WILL COME TO PASS. This speaking may take various forms – praise, such as “I thank you, Father, that this person has been healed,” proclamation, affirmation, command, or whatever. The Lord accomplishes the work in the spirit realm and we bring the physical into line with the spiritual. It is important to understand that the enemy works in the heavenlies and even though the Father has answered the request in the heavens, he (the enemy) may try to hinder its manifestation.
Finally, do you recall the mention earlier that there may be questions about Jesus’ prayers and our own? Do you also recall that the gospels relate how Jesus spent considerable time alone in prayer to the Father? Given the above understanding of the keys of the kingdom, it is most reasonable to conclude that Jesus prayed the way He encouraged us to pray – with someone with whom we agree concerning the Father’s will. When we pray, it is usually helpful for us to be in agreement with another like-minded person, for confirmation, but that was not necessary in Jesus’ prayers, because there was nothing in Him to hinder understanding of God’s will. Jesus was one with the Father, so agreement was possible. We are to be one with each other in Christ (John 17:22), making spiritual agreement possible. Jesus, in prayer and complete communion with the Father, first learned what God wanted to accomplish, then came into agreement with His Father, and, because Jesus could see right through the veil of the flesh, into the spirit realm, watched His Father do the works there. After that he went around “binding” and “loosing,” as it were, what had already been bound/loosed by His Father. This is reinforced by the following familiar verse of scripture:
“Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” (John 5:19-21) (NASB)
– also –
“…And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” (John 12:50) (NASB)
This could explain why Jesus did not pray (petition the Father) with each ministry opportunity – He had prayed about each event ahead of time, then “watched” it being accomplished in the heavenlies, and therefore NEEDED ONLY TO SPEAK INTO EXISTENCE WHAT HE HAD SEEN HIS FATHER DO. Since Satan could not withstand Jesus, the manifestations usually came swiftly (i.e., miraculously). So Jesus himself used the keys of the kingdom. Of course He did! He is the King of the kingdom.
In conclusion, we are to pray as Jesus prayed, using the keys, and then go out and minister as He did. This is evidenced by these words to His disciples in John 14:12:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in (into) Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12) (NASB)
The word “works” (Gk: ergon) in this verse does not mean just miraculous works, but any labors, doings, or deeds in general. Jesus’ comment is taken to refer to those who will “pick up their crosses and follow Him,” to be (have their flesh) crucified in/with Him. Certainly this meant they ought to pray the way He did, if not as powerfully…
HOW TO PRAY USING THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM [E. M. ‘Ed’ Dupas] 4-22-02 1