The ten laws governing prayer, Part 2
May 07, 2014
Law 7: You shall not commit adultery
When law 7 is applied to prayer, we must note the spiritual application of this law. It refers to spiritual adultery, seen in Israel’s example of apostasy in following after other gods. Jeremiah 3:8 says that God gave Israel a writ of divorce on account of her adultery with other gods, and yet her sister Judah did not learn from this but followed Israel’s example.
Proper prayer first recognizes the Creator, as the first law of prayer commands. The covenant that God and Israel entered into was a marriage covenant, as the prophets tell us. After the great divorce (Jeremiah 3:8), God remarried under a New Covenant—or, more accurately, He betrothed the Church at Pentecost and has since awaited the day when the bride is prepared for the wedding (Revelation 21:2).
In God’s first marriage, He proposed to Abraham but was married under Moses. A betrothal involves promises and terms for the wedding, and Abraham received this promise that was later fulfilled when Israel married God at Mount Horeb. In God’s second marriage, we again find a two-step process of betrothal and wedding, which are fulfilled in Pentecost and Tabernacles.
In the same manner, when we apply this personally instead of nationally, our own betrothal comes when we first believe, for that is when we each believe His proposal. This belief essentially fulfills the feast of Passover but is sealed by the dowry at Pentecost. The promise is immortality and transfiguration, which comes at the time of the wedding at His second coming, as prophesied in the feast of Tabernacles.
In Scripture, sealing the betrothal with the dowry (Pentecost) gives the woman the title as “wife.” She does not have to wait for the actual wedding to obtain that title. Yet there is still more to be done before the promise is fulfilled and the marriage consummated. She must make herself ready, for she is not yet qualified to become “one flesh” with her betrothed Husband (Jesus). As individuals, each of us is part of the bride and is responsible to prepare for transformation at the feast of Tabernacles. Transformation is necessary for full unity with Jesus Christ.
Prayer is a large part of this preparation, especially when we view prayer as the constant communication that we have as we are led by the Spirit. Prayer is not limited to the closet or to meal time or bed time. Paul says we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), or remain alert at all times to hear when He speaks. We are to practice the presence of Christ, knowing that He is our constant (and inner) companion.
To commit spiritual adultery is to take heed to other voices that imitate but contradict the voice of Jesus. In a way, the bride’s time of preparation is spent in learning how to hear the voice of Jesus and not be led astray by the voice of other gods. Hence, this law overlaps not only the first law, but also the second in regard to graven images (idols of the heart). In fact, all of these laws are tied together by a certain amount of overlap.
Law 8: You shall not steal
To steal is to claim or use without authorization the property or authority of another person. If it were not for laws that are enforced, men would steal without restraint, for that is human nature since sin entered the world. As believers, we are to prepare our hearts so that we eradicate even the desire to steal, so that even if man’s laws were set aside, we would not become thieves. This is part of the preparation of the bride that is referenced in law 7. As usual, these laws overlap.
This eighth law applies to prayer in that we are not to pray that God may help us steal things that do not belong to us. Yes, this happens more often than Christians think. On a national level, King Saul stole God’s throne, even though he had been anointed as king by Samuel himself. He stole the throne by appropriating it as if it were his own, instead of seeing himself as a steward of God’s throne. As a result, Samuel told him that he was in rebellion against God (1 Samuel 15:23).
King Saul had been crowned on the day of “wheat harvest” (1 Samuel 12:17), which was known later as Pentecost. As such, Saul was a type of the Church in the Age of Pentecost. His character prophesied how the institutional church would act in the centuries after Pentecost, when the church was crowned with divine authority in Acts 2. They misused their God-given authority, thinking that the authority was theirs to use as they saw fit.
In this way, the people got what they asked for—a king “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:19, 20). And so Church leaders of the past two millennia have engaged in all the political practices, deceptions, broken treaties, and theft that we have come to expect of unregenerate national leaders and politicians. A short study of church history proves this.
Samuel told the people what sort of king they would have. 1 Samuel 8:11-18 says he would be a TAKER. In other words, he would use his God-given authority to steal the property of others or to use it primarily for his own personal comfort and advancement.
As believers, we are not to follow Saul’s example, but rather the example of David. David was a steward of the throne, not its usurper. Though he was not perfect, he had the right attitude and was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
When we pray, we are not to use our gifts and callings to steal from God or from others. The proper use of spiritual authority is the first goal. Tithes and offerings are not to be misused on things that do not build the Kingdom or extend God’s rule. In fact, because many church leaders do not understand the tithe itself, they often teach that all income must be tithed, whether it is derived from God’s direct labor (creation) or not. Having put away the law at the start, they do not have a proper understanding of the law of tithing, so they end up stealing from the people in the name of the Lord.
In recent decades many Christians have been taught to “name it and claim it.” They are told that it is their right to be rich, whether they work for those riches or not. So they pray to claim what they believe is theirs, when, in fact, most of what they claim actually belongs to other people. They try to use their mental and spiritual power to manipulate others into giving them their property.
I recall one story, which no doubt has been repeated many times over the years, where a minister laid claim to a new car, marched around the car dealer seven times, and then walked in and asked the owner to give him the car free of charge! In the story that I heard, the owner refused and ushered them out of the building. Yet this is a good example of spiritual manipulation to appropriate the property that is rightfully owned by others. We must realize that property represents labor, and as our own US Supreme Court ruled many years ago, labor is our most sacred property right. He who labors has the right to be protected from those who try to steal—even when ministers do this.
The simple truth is that no one has the right to appropriate another man’s property that he has labored to obtain. Labor grants property rights. Not even government has the right to take any man’s labor without compensation. The tithe (tax) is simply a ten-percent return on God’s labor from creation. It is not theft, but a return on labor, because He provides the earth, the sun, the rain, atmosphere, and all the things necessary to bring forth wealth directly from nature.
By contrast, offerings are voluntary gifts from that which we have gained by our own labor. For a gift to be truly voluntary, it must be given without manipulation. It should be given freely. Those who play on the guilt and fear of the people to extract wealth from them are stealing, whether they know it or not. Whenever gifts are given to relieve guilt, it is a restitution payment that is demanded by the law, not a true gift.
So when we pray and present God with our needs, let us not try to manipulate others by the power of positive thinking to force them by spiritual authority to give us what we want. Let God decide how to do it, because He knows how to provide in a lawful manner.
To be continued….
This is the second part of a series titled "Ten laws governing prayer." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones