Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion…’ So God created humankind in his image.
Lord Mountbatten was the last viceroy sent by the British Crown to rule India half a world away. He was the uncle of Prince Phillip and second cousin to Queen Elizabeth and authorized to act “in the place of royalty” (vice = “in the place of” roy = “royalty”). As the royal viceroy he had the full power of the British Crown in India. As viceroy he advised the Crown on policy towards India and could freely request funds and resources required to carry out that policy.
Today’s Scripture reminds me of the old British viceroy and the authority granted to him by his sovereign. On the Bible’s first page we see God’s creation of humankind in “his image”, mandated to rule the planet. The language is taken from the ancient Near East where kings would erect an image of themselves in territories to assert their right to rule (see Daniel 3:1ff.). Compare the act of setting up a king’s image with today’s posting of a nation’s flag over a territory.
The king’s image was placed as a visible claim of authority and reminder of his right to rule. So the creation story in Genesis speaks of the creation of humankind in God’s image as the assertion of God’s rule over the planet. We are to serve as walking, talking images of God, given the mandate to rule the earth in His place. We are God’s viceroys authorized to act here “in place of royalty”. This is the very reason for Satan the Serpent’s attack on God’s newly created image bearer! All of which brings me to the subject of prayer!
Andrew Murray, in his wonderful old book on prayer, With Christ in the School of Prayer, has informed and inspired me to pray. He helps me understand more of what it meant for Adam, and for us, to serve here as God’s viceroys and image bearers:
As God’s viceroy he was to fill God’s place: himself subject to God, he was to keep all else in subjection to Him. It was the will of God that all that was to be done on earth should be done through him: the history of the earth was to be entirely in his hands… Prayer is not merely the cry of the suppliant for mercy; it is the highest putting-forth of his will by man, knowing himself to be of Divine origin, created for and capable of being, in king-like liberty, the executor of the counsels of the Eternal…Bearing God’s image, man belongs to God: prayer to God is what he was created for.
A doctoral student at Princeton asked Albert Einstein, “What is left in the world for original dissertation research?” Einstein replied, “Find out about prayer. Someone must find out about prayer.” (Quoted by Phillip Yancey, Prayer) Yes! We must find out about prayer! “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Morte d’Arthur”)
Jesus has authorized us to ask in His name (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-27). Jesus wants us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7) We must find out about prayer!
In humble submission to our Divine Sovereign let us act as God’s viceroys! Created in God’s image, and crowned with the dignity of knowing that there are things God cannot do in this world, but that we pray. So let us pray! We pray for what our churches need! We pray for what our nation needs! We pray for that which is best for our world and for us! That’s how we viceroys find out about prayer!
PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens),