Prayer Is A Battle
The 1984 NIV translation of the Holy Bible cites 237 instances of the word ‘prayer’ (and its derivatives such as ‘prayed’, ‘prayer’, etc.) in 227 verses.
Prayer is important to God, as may be readily observed from its mention so many times throughout the Word that He has given us in His Holy Scriptures. Why is prayer important to God?
Because God is a jealous God:
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14)
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24)
Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. (Deuteronomy 6:14-15)
Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. (Joshua 24:19)
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. (Nahum 1:2)
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
Why is God a jealous God? Because of who He is… God is Almighty Father, Everlasting God, the Great I AM:
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isaiah 42:8)
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. (Isaiah 48:11)
God is jealous for His Name, His glory, and His people. How do we, those who have been formed from the dust of the ground and who will return to that dust, approach such a One as He? God takes counsel from no one, as He is omniscient, having all knowledge:
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. (Job 12:13)
Expanding upon this, we see that God is omnipotent, having all power:
What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man he imprisons cannot be released. If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. To him belong strength and victory; both deceived and deceiver are his. He leads counselors away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows men long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he sends them wandering through a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards. (Job 12:14-25)
God is before past time, in present time, and after future time, having omnipresence before, across and after all ages:
to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 25)
Again… how do we, mere mortals, nothing more than thoroughly sinful, corrupted, debauched sinners, approach such a God?
Prayer is two-way communication with God, an expression of godly submission to our Creator and Provider, offered in godly sorrow and repentance for the offenses that we have given Him, with grateful thanks for His goodness, grace, mercy, compassion, provision and forgiveness.
Understand that while God loves to hear His children, understand also that not all people are God’s children. To be a child implies that there is a relationship between the child and a father and/or mother. God’s children are those people who have: 1) acknowledged Him as Almighty God, 2) also acknowledged His Son Jesus Christ, and 3) willingly established themselves in a relationship with both God and His Son Jesus Christ. In this we see the dynamic of submission: can anyone have a relationship with someone without submitting to that arrangement?
Love for God and love for His Son Jesus Christ is not all about religion: it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with relationship.
A relationship with God and with His Son Jesus Christ is not like the worldly relationships that we know. In worldly relationships, the focus is almost always on “What’s in this for me?” This should not surprise anyone, as we are routinely selfish, self-absorbed, and consumed with getting for ourselves everything that we can, by any manner of hook or crook that is available to us. If you doubt this, consider that while we must teach children how to be good, and invest quite a bit of time and effort to do so, we don’t have to invest any time or effort to teach children to be bad… that is already built-in to people as a result of our original fall from God’s grace in the Garden of Eden.
Our relationship with God is very special, and utterly unique (italic emphasis mine):
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Our relationship with God never fails (italic emphasis mine):
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Our relationship with God is as familiar to us as one we see inside our homes:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
Oh, that a just, pure, holy and righteous God would stoop so low as to have a relationship with we sinners! God owes us nothing, but He offers us everything:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
And this is the God that we communicate with through prayer! How wonderful is that?
Most people don’t understand that there is a proper use of prayer. Prayer is used properly when it petitions God for the fulfillment of the things that are on His heart, not when it petitions God as if He were a free-of-charge vending machine in the sky:
You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)
When we pray to God in accordance with His will, our prayers will be fulfilled to the letter, each and every time. Why? Because God is exalted and glorified by inhabiting the praises of His people. We are created in the image of God, and when we as His handiwork exalt and praise Him, it adds to His glory and honor, and God is pleased.
There is a higher purpose yet for prayer, and that is fighting the good fight of the true faith that is found in God and in His Son Jesus Christ alone:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude 3)
From the beginning, there has been a continual war between God and the evil one. After the fall of man from God’s grace in the Garden of Eden due to man’s disobedience, God proclaimed the war that would be between the children of Adam and Eve, and the forces of the evil one:
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
The war has intensified by this time in human history, as anyone should be able to discern simply by taking a serious look at the world around them. Christian believers need to be fully aware of the resolve of the evil one to destroy God’s handiwork (italic emphasis mine):
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:10-12)
So we have a battle on our hands, Christian believers! Holy Scripture tells us that this is so:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
We do not go into battle without armor:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
And don’t forget… to pray:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
Understand that when you pray, you don’t have to go to great lengths with many words:
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of prayer, the very pinnacle of its awesome power, is realized when we understand that, even if we do not know what to ask God for, and we are so weak that all we can do is groan because we have no words, our prayers will still be effective:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)
Christian believers can be assured of this:
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
How must Christian believers be (italic emphasis mine)?
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
What must Christian believers do?
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
Understand that God, through Jesus Christ, has already won the battle that we are engaged in… we cannot lose, and we are victorious because sin and death have been defeated at the cross where Jesus Christ gave His life that all humanity would be saved. May our prayers to our Almighty God and Father exalt and praise and glorify Him, and cause Him to bring us safely to His Kingdom on the great and awesome Day of the Lord. Pray, Christians, pray!! The words that change eternity are in our hearts and minds; may they ring through the halls of heaven to praise our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father who gave Him for our redemption… AMEN, thank God, and glory to God!!