Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven

The scripture about binding and loosing is something which I had always struggled to understand.  I had typically not worried about it too much in the past. But now, on my second time through reading the Bible, I decided that this was something I needed to understand, or at least attempt to understand.

I figured this verse was a very important verse, for two reasons:

  1. Jesus uttered it himself
  2. He actually spoke these words twice, once in each of two different chapters of Matthew in the Bible. I figured that for it to be said twice, it must be very important. 

The one which I noticed the most was the second time it was stated, in Matthew 18:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18: 18

So I decided it was time to understand these scriptures. What did I do? Well, first I prayed. I knew I would not get anywhere with this without prayer. Secondly I studied the surrounding context.

Immediately following this verse is:

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18: 19-20

Clearly then, the verse in question is about prayer.

Binding and loosing, at least in the Hebrew sense, are about forbidding and allowing, in a spiritual sense.

Therefore, this verse is about how what we pray about causes us to reach out and touch heaven and have some effect. Not because we are powerful - we are not, but because when we pray in Jesus' name, we are given some authority by him. When we pray in faith in the name of Jesus, then what we hold dear in those prayers (and what we do not) gets asked for in Heaven.

This verse was given, I think, almost as a warning to us: if we do not ask, it may not happen. I'm not talking about asking for physical items for ourselves, but rather about spiritual matters.

Not to say that God couldn't decide to take action himself without requests from us - He could. However, free will is something that was very important to God that we have, from the moment He created us. As part of that, He wants us to have a relationship with us and to ask Him for things. If you are a parent, were there times where you almost certainly would have said "yes" and done it if your child had asked you to do something (e.g. practice baseball throws) - yet the child didn't ask? Sure, the child may have asked later on, and you'd said yes at that occasion. But there are times when something wasn't done or wasn't made available and it was only for the lack of asking. This is a similar situation in our relationship with our Father in Heaven.

One of the things that crossed my mind about this was "Is God really sure he wants to give us some authority like this? Isn't that a dangerous plan? Did He really know what He was doing!?" But of course he is God and he does know what he is doing. However, what this means is that our prayer responsibilities are far, far greater than what we thought they were. Not only is it important what we do pray for, but also what we don't!

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