There is no doubt in my mind that believers are fighting a war. Lines have been drawn over traditionally held Judaeo-Christian beliefs.
It is easy to forget that our fight isn’t against people who think, believe, practice or look differently than us. Our war is with the unseen-principalities, powers, spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places, the devil.
Choosing our weapons
It is easy to forget that the weapons and armor required in this battle are not arguments, but are truth and righteousness, the gospel of peace and faith, salvation. The Word of God and prayer.
The Word of God, the sword of the Spirt, is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) God’s powerful words were the vehicle of creation. (Genesis 1) Why would we neglect this powerful weapon?
Admittedly, it requires much less discipline or thought to fire off a scathing tweet or status, than to utilize our God-given weapons. It requires much less of our time and effort, and it isn’t nearly as effective. Lives aren’t changed, battles aren’t won.
Battles are won and lives are changed, when we read and obey Scripture. And when we pray.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
All times. All prayer. All perseverance. All the saints.
We can’t afford to enter this battle without our weapons and armor. It’s asking to be defeated. God is the Victor, the battle ultimately will be won. But how many casualties will be experienced while we are fighting the battles with the wrong weapons?
- We need to pray
- If there is an opportunity to complain, there’s an opportunity to pray. And how much more effective is prayer than complaining! If there is something weighing like a burden, there is the opportunity to cast that burden on the Lord through prayer.
- We need to pray individually
- Our corporate prayers are a reflection of our private prayers. Our private prayers are the training ground for our public prayers. We pour out our hearts to God in our prayers-worshipping, confessing, thanking, and supplicating.
- We need to pray corporately
- When we read of groups of people praying in the Bible, we read of great acts of God on their behalf. New Testament, Old Testament; wars, confession, need-when big groups of people prayed collectively, God worked mightily.
- We need to pray specifically
- You do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:2) We fill our prayers will rote phrases and never actually ask for anything. Like I tell my kids, “just spit it out. Tell me what you want.” I think that is what God desires from us. Specific problems call for specific requests which bring specific answers. As we see specific answers to prayer, we give glory to God.
- We need to persevere in prayer
- Often when we pray, a situation seems to get worse. We are not getting the answer we are looking for. But God is doing unseen work in both individuals and situations. We pray until we see God answer.
- We need to work at/in prayer
- On the night of His arrest, Jesus told the disciples to watch and pray, so they wouldn’t enter into temptation. Jesus then went off to pray, and as He prayed, He sweat great drops of blood. That’s intense praying! You have not yet resisted unto blood in your striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:4) Prayer is more than doing our duty. Prayer is often wrestling with God (all night), like Jacob. Prayer involves some level of desperation. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. As we spend chunks of time in prayer, things start to happen. Our knees hurt, our backs hurt, our tears flow, we come to the end of ourselves. The Holy Spirit reveals what is in our hearts. He convicts until we are open and empty before Him. Until we are truly at the point of thy will be done.
- We need to pray vulnerably
- Praying is admitting we have needs that only God can fulfill. It is admitting there are situations in our life that we can do nothing about. Prayer is admitting that we are human and we don’t have everything figured out, we don’t have it all together. Prayer, especially public prayer, can be a very vulnerable proposition. God already knows our hearts. Prayer reveals our hearts to ourselves and others, which is humbling. In conjunction with this, we need to provide safe places for people to pray vulnerably. Our judgments need left at the door. Confidentiality is of up-most importance.
- We need to pray big, bold prayers, without conditions.
- God is infinitely able to do whatever He wants. Which we realize all too well, and so we put the “Lord willing” stamp on our prayers. Which sounds pious, but could signify a lack of faith. As we pray, God can and will change our hearts and prayers to align with His will. There is no harm in asking for something specific. We know God wants to be glorified in earth as in heaven. We know God’s desire is to conform believers to the image of Christ. We know God wants believers to live abundantly. We know God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. We know these things. We don’t know exactly how God is going to accomplish these things in any given situation. We ask our requests boldly in faith. Not as a bargaining chip, but to see God gloried and souls redeemed.
How could you use the weapon of prayer more effectively?