"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Friday, April 1, 2011

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Armor of God: ALL PRAYER and SUPPLICATION: Part - 8

Another Vital Weapon in our Spiritual Arsenal –

~~ by James Fire


Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;


Eph 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,


Eph 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.


Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.


Neh 4:9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.


Ps 64:1 Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.


Phl 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.


Phl 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


As mentioned previously, after reading many excellent books on spiritual warfare and victorious Christian living (By way of reminder, a list of these will be provided at the end of this series, should we ever arrive at it!), in regards to our spiritual armor, there was little if any mention of prayer as a viable weapon in this campaign we are encouraged to engage in.

Of course, any one involved in persistent and adamant intercessory prayer will ably attest to the truth that such is indeed spiritual warfare on its most fundamental level.


The LORD Jesus stated emphatically concerning the church:


Mat 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

“This rock” is Christ Jesus
(not Peter; see 1 Cor. 10:4) and the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, founded upon the Rock.
Two key points:

1.) “Gates” in biblical times, referred to the entry ways into any walled city, and just within those gates were large chambers where the officials of the city would reside to conduct affairs of state. Thus in reference to “the gates of hell” it is the highest authorities of such that reside in the kingdom of spiritual darkness, i.e. Satan and his unholy hierarchy. Gates are not offensive structures, but defensive – they aren’t used in attack, but to ward them off. The LORD Jesus here is making it clear that it’s the church, not the gates of hell that is to take the initiative and conduct offensive campaigns of attack and He has promised us that the gates will not prevail against us!


2.) And who is “us”? Those on the Rock, the church of the LORD Jesus Christ. Unfortunately there are too many that claim to be Christians or believers in Jesus yet are not on the Rock as their foundation. They have a profession of faith (after some fashion) but they are not hearing and obeying the words of Jesus Christ (Matt. 7: 26-27). No one can be assured of being solidly founded on the Rock unless there is evidence of understanding and obeying the Word of God, out of a love for JESUS!
Those who fail in this will fall under the onslaught of satanic storms as specified in Matthew chapter seven. In our warfare against the enemy we have the primary weapon of the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; this lethal blade is able to:

-Wreak tremendous ruin in the kingdom of darkness.

-Shine it’s Light before the spiritually blind and causing them to see.

-Destroy the chains of bondage that holds Satan’s slaves captive.

-And also deal directly in confrontation with Satan, defeating him in close quarters, even as our LORD demonstrated for us by example in His temptations in the wilderness (Matt. and Luke, 4th chapters).


Yet we have another weapon, which is utilized not in close quarters, but over potentially great distances: prayer! This is rather like a spear, or arrow, or even more so like a catapult with which we send our prayers heavenward, and the answer comes down and proves detrimental to our enemy as he is attacking the saints, seeking to ruin them.
It advances the kingdom of God, opening previously barred doors and pathways as the LORD answers these prayers on behalf of our neighbors, or missionaries and their work half way around the world!

Prayer is a peculiar exercise; one sometimes may wonder, since God already knows our needs, and what we would ask for, long before any such things arise in our lives, why is there even a need for prayer?


Don Carson has some interesting insights into this question:


What is Prayer and Why Should I Pray if God Knows Everything?


C.S. Lewis was very fond of saying, “Prayer doesn’t change things; prayer changes me!”

I think he was on to something there!
As we enter into prayer, we must understand that a heavenly dynamic is engaged of the most holy, spiritual sort. We are not merely speaking “into the air” but then neither are we bringing only a ‘roster of requests’ and seeking supplies from God’s spiritual warehouse! This is not to say God isn’t interested in us bringing before Him our needs, as this is quite evident in all of scripture that such is entirely appropriate and necessary.

Yet prayer entails far more than just ‘seeking from God’ “our daily bread”; prayer is about seeking God Himself by communicating to and with Him! It’s about a relationship with the LORD! It’s about the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit interacting with us and causing the aroma of heaven to be scented upon our souls! It’s about spending time in the presence of Jesus and thereby becoming more like Him!


Prayer is also seeking God on behalf of others, their needs, primarily spiritual needs and blessings as they relate to salvation (in all of its aspects including justification and sanctification) and their own character and ministry of such.

As we spend time communing with the LORD in our prayer chamber, its important to realize that we are actually present (in the spiritual sense) before the very Holy of Holies of God’s Being! We are attendant at the very Throne Room of the Almighty!


Listen carefully saints: though you may be least esteemed in your congregation; even if you’re considered unimportant in matters of ministry and obtaining great things from and for God; perhaps you’re ridiculed and shamed by the world or under the condemnation of the accuser of the brethren, the devil himself – once you bow your heart before the Almighty and begin to pray, if righteousness has been imputed to you by the saving grace of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, know that your prayers are heard!


Or perhaps you know nothing of God’s love and forgiveness in His salvation, and His presence in your life, while realizing that you yourself are a sinner without hope of acceptance from the Holy God; your prayer of repentance and acceptance of the LORD’s Salvation and submitting to His Lordship and surrendering your life, will likewise be heard of God!


I can well imagine that God brings a momentary halt to the angelic worship that fills heaven’s halls just so that He may attend more carefully to the prayers of His lowliest.

Not only are such prayers heard, but they avail much (James 5:16).
It’s absolutely incredible to me that the LORD God, the Awesome and Almighty Creator would deign to hear the prayers of such lowly creatures as we; behold the beautiful humility and humbleness of our Majestic and Lofty LORD Who is not just willing to hear our prayers and commune with us, but actually DELIGHTS in doing so! Glory be to God!

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.


Isa 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?


Isa 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.


John MacArthur has a few pertinent comments on Our Role in Prayer before our LORD God:
Our Role in Prayer

Are we getting excited about our upcoming prayer meetings yet?


In Ephesians 6:18, the phrase “all prayer” is used. I understand that this means that all and every prayer and supplication is heard which is in accord with God’s will (1 John 5:14); yet I believe this phrase also refers to “all prayer” as in all manner of prayer.


There is supplicational prayer, petitional prayer, and intercessory prayer; there are prayers of praise and worship, and the prayer of repentance (not just a ‘one time deal’ at the beginning of the spiritual life of a believer!) are all valid forms of prayer for the saint.


We shall narrow our focus on that aspect of prayer that deals specifically with spiritual warfare and its effectiveness in our battle strategies against the enemy.
Should we attempt to challenge Satan with our denominational doctrine, with church membership and its significant numbers, with degrees and titles gained from scholastic mastery, with our financial clout or intellectual prowess, we will fail miserably, without a doubt!

However it’s been said that the army of God marches on its knees, and to this, I offer a hearty AMEN!!
It has also been said that, Prayer is God’s way of enlisting the saints into His plans.

If we understand the primary and basic fundamental of spiritual warfare, then this will guide us in understanding prayer’s vital role in the life of a spiritual warrior.
As mentioned before, when God created all things, there was harmony of the heavenly sort; there was one Order alone, that was God’s.

(It’s interesting to note that in the creation account, Genesis records that “the evening and the morning” was the first, second, third, etc. day. The word for evening in Hebrew is “erev” and “boker” means morning. Erev also means “darkness, disorder” and boker means “light, illumined, order”. Thus with the passage of each day of Creation, God brings a greater and greater level of order from disorder, until the completion and all was in perfect order).


Our God is a God of order and design (sorry evolutionists!) and it wasn’t until Lucifer imposed his own will in opposition to God’s own that a second Order commenced. We can think of these as being the Kingdom of God and Light and the kingdom of darkness, and there has been contention ever since the intrusion of that second or ‘new’ world order.


So as we understand that prayer is seeking God, His will, His kingdom in our lives; that this is in absolute contradiction to what Satan would have for us. He would want us cut off from our communion with God, ruined, destroyed, still enslaved to sin as a P.O.W. in his camp along with the rest of humanity.


Further, by finding God’s will and employing it more and more in our lives, there is the risk that this will influence others around us for good, and also encourage them to likewise seek after God. This is intolerable to Satan, and so he will do everything he can to distract, discourage and demoralize us from actively engaging in prayer.


Prayer is a highway to our hearts by which the KING traverses and finds His will welcome and made at home; thus the praying saint is a ‘spiritual embassy’* in this wicked world by which God’s will may be accomplished and His government properly displayed for all to see.


*
Embassies are centers of government in foreign nations that represents the nation of its origin. Its ambassadors, diplomats and workers function under the laws that govern their own nation, even though they are located in a foreign land. The laws, culture and manner of life is exhibited for the people of that foreign nation to see and understand.


Let’s look at some scripture that deals with prayer. We can find no better place to start than when the disciples asked the LORD to “teach us to pray”, and there He gave us a model prayer; kind of spiritual guidelines to direct our prayers.
What does the “Our Father” prayer have to do with spiritual warfare? You might be surprised!

Matt 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.


Matt 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Matt 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Matt 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.


Matt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


As we pray, we are praying to our Father, who has provided the Holy Spirit that indwells us by the atonement of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. The Spirit indwelling us has bequeathed the “divine nature” in us, so the expression, “like Father, like son” is quite applicable. Our nature is slowly being transformed to become like the nature of our heavenly Father: God’s priorities become our own; what He values, we learn to value; His objectives are ones that we also claim and motivates us. His rule of heaven is extended to our own hearts and so, we conduct our lives in counter to that of the world and its priorities, values and objectives (Eph. 2:2-6).


The Name of our God is hallowed, or holy; the biblical significance of names is in the nature of the person that the name represents. Thus the Name of the LORD is in accord to the Nature of the LORD, and His nature is holiness, and to love, to lead to repentance, to offer forgiveness for sin, restoration to life, to heal, sanctify and empower. Very much against the satanic objectives the devil intends for this world!


As we pray, asking for God’s kingdom to come (come where? Is not the kingdom of God already present in heaven? To what location are we asking God to bring His kingdom?), we are petitioning Him to inaugurate His will and His kingdom upon this wayward world of sin and rebellion against the Holy Rule of the KING of the Universe, and His kingdom shall certainly be manifested overtly as stated in Daniel chapter 2:


Dan 2:35
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Compare with vs. 44-45.)

Do you suppose that Satan will meekly accept the intrusion of God’s visible kingdom, setting up residency in this world he has claimed for his own? Never!


Thus as we pray earnestly for God’s kingdom to come, for His will to be done here, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. As we proclaim the Gospel, and a soul is saved, the roster of Satan’s kingdom population is decreased by one; the roster of the LORD’s kingdom population is increased by one. Another soul has been “translated” into God’s domain and so we understand that the Gospel is certainly all about this spiritual warfare (see Acts 26:18; Col. 1: 13).


Daily bread is not restricted to physical sustenance alone, but for the Bread of Life, which we require for our spiritual nourishment and strengthening. Earlier I made the comment that the army of God marches on her knees. The secular counterpart to this expression (made by Napoleon Bonaparte I believe) is that an army marches on its stomach; that is a well fed army is an army that fights well.
Here we see an obvious spiritual application.

As we seek God for provender in His Word, He feeds us, strengthens and encourages us, He provides counsel and ‘military strategies’ from the Word of Truth, and as well as this, prayer – the very communications with our heavenly HQ, the very throne of God is likewise essential in receiving instructions on battle plans from the LORD.


Forgiveness for our debts is obvious in its application for spiritual warfare; if we do not keep short accounts with God, and allow un-confessed sin in our lives, this will staunch the ‘flow of fellowship’ with our heavenly Father; how can we receive anything from Him then, by way of instruction, empowerment, wisdom and availing prayer in our warfare?
Answer: we can’t!

Likewise if we allow un-forgiveness in our lives towards others, this will eventually create a bitter heart which will choke out spiritual growth and power in our lives, for this likewise will inhibit fellowship with our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ the Head of the Church – no body can operate without its head, especially the body of Christ. We must keep our accounts clear and clean, releasing forgiveness from our hearts towards all who offend, because of the grace of God poured out into our lives (Eph. 4:32; Matt. 6:15: note that the LORD repeats Himself here, from vs. 12)!


Satan’s goal for the saint is that he leads them into temptation and then do all he can to excite them towards sin. Consider that Satan can’t force the saint to commit sin; it’s our own fleshly, sinful nature that is motivated by our pride that causes us to sin. This is of course why sanctification is so very important in the life of the believer; essentially it takes the carnal ‘wood’ out of the believer so that the sinful ‘fire’ of Satan’s temptations (fiery darts) has nothing to work on.


Our enemy can do nothing to steal away our salvation in Christ, but he can certainly work at compromising our walks and disqualify us from ministry if we fall for his temptations that lead us to such heinous practices of sin, so that God will no longer use us (Understand, I’m not specifically speaking of a singular instance of falling into sin necessarily – though this can be the case – but of a rebellious practice, a life style of sin that should never be so named among the church and certainly not among her ministers!! See 1 Cor. 9:27).


Deliverance from the evil one and his intentions for us is pivotal in our struggles against this kingdom of darkness in this fight for lost souls and the strengthening of our fellow warriors.


Peace with God is the objective of the Gospel, and this is only possible through Jesus Christ our LORD (Rom. 5:1). As many of you know, the name of the city of God is Jerusalem which means “city of peace”.
In the days of Nehemiah, this city was in utter ruin, and while he himself was a cup bearer to the King of Persia, his heart was settled in that destitute city which he longed to see restored so that the plan of God could begin once again, and He would receive glory in the world by His operation through His people, Israel.

God saw to it that this man of His received the King’s permission to restore Jerusalem and as he and those with him began the work, opposition came by the enemies of Israel who taunted, jeered and did all that they could to stop the city of Peace from being rebuilt.
Such is the modus operandi of Satan today against the church: we herald the Gospel as the means for lost souls to find “peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ” and become citizens of heaven, thereby gaining access to this holy city, but Satan is there to obstruct our efforts, to mock, and ridicule and to condemn.

Yet like Nehemiah, we persist in building the kingdom of God, laying down brick after brick, with a trowel in one hand, and a sword in the other, and being prayerfully watchful for the attacks of the enemy (see Nehemiah chapter four to get the context of this strategy of building and defending the city of Peace).


You also might like to read this article that deals with Nehemiah, the situation of Jerusalem in his day, and the plight of the church in our own day –


Wanted: Righteous Raiment, Purified Gold, and Sanctified Salve


Let’s examine some other scriptures on prayer –


What are the BIBLICAL CONDITIONS laid out in scripture for successfully answered prayer?
Here are five key conditions for us to consider:

Contrition
in prayer as found in:
2 Chron 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We understand that this promise is to Israel, and one of the forms of answered prayer will be in the healing of their land, that is the land of Israel, formerly Canaan land. The church has no such land anywhere in this world, for ours is a kingdom that is coming with the arrival of the LORD Jesus Christ. However, generally in principle I think this verse is applicable to the church – for are we not also a people who are called by His Name?


Should we humble ourselves – and this is greatly needed in the church today! – This is a first and necessary step to answered prayer (See Psalm 10:12; 1 Peter 5:6).


Whole-heartedness and Fervency
is another condition:


Jer 29:13
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Prayer as in a whole-hearted endeavor that thirsts for God and Him alone; prayer that is earnest and entirely devoted to seeking after God; this is not speaking of the “Now I lay my head to sleep . . .” variety or grace before meals! This is an all-consuming prayer!


Seeking the face of God is likewise something that must be done whole-heartedly or not at all. Seeking the Person of God, beseeching for His presence and His grace is what this is all about (Deut. 4:29; 1 Chron. 16:11; Ps. 6:9; Hosea 10:12; James 5:16).


Turning from wicked ways – can this truly be about the Israel of God? Yes, and it can also be stated about the church today that looks no different from the world, with the same values, the same desires, the same attention to materialism.
If we want to hear from God, we must be serious, and let our heart direct us to action: and TURN from our wicked ways (Acts 26:20; Rev. 2:5; 1 Tim. 2:19)!

Faith
is certainly a primary condition:


Mark 11:24
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Mar 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.


Faith is not something we dredge up and psych ourselves up to believe enough to be heard of God; faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 12:3; Rom. 10:7).
Faith is granted by God and is the vehicle by which the believer responds to the Word of God, as demonstrated everywhere in the Bible, Old Testament and New alike.
Faith exercised will grow and become stronger (just as muscles in our bodies). If we lack any degree of faith, know it only takes a mustard seed-size of faith to move mountains, for even a tiny faith like this, in an awesome and Almighty God as we serve can accomplish such a thing! If we have unbelief in the midst of our faith, confess this to the LORD and He will deal with it (Heb. 11:6; Matt. 17:20; Mark 9:24)! Note that the prayer life may be hindered by un-forgiveness for others.

Righteousness
is another condition for successful prayer:


James 5:16
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Of course if we approach the throne of God in seeking answers to prayer based upon our own righteousness, the “heavens will be brass” to us; the only acceptable righteousness that can avail is that which has been granted to us in Christ Jesus, both positionally (as God sees us in Christ Jesus) and practically (the righteousness that God is working in us, through Jesus Christ’s atonement and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit).

Understand that if we truly belong to the LORD and have received His salvation as a finished work, then our prayers will know no hindrances even as the prayers of our LORD Jesus when He was here among us (Phil. 3:9; 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:22; 2 Peter 1:1) !
This righteousness of Christ is absolutely key to the next condition –

Obedience
is the fifth condition for successful prayer:


1 John 3:22
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

Obedience is a (super)natural outgrowth of righteousness. If one has obtained the righteousness of Jesus Christ via salvation, then one has the capability of obedience, not by one’s own power or will, but by the very Spirit that dwells in us, Who is the seal of our salvation Himself!


Phl 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.


Note: that God is the One who works in us, His children to accomplish these two things: firstly, “to will” – He grants us the very will necessary to accomplish what He desires in us!
Secondly, “to do of His good pleasure”, that is, being obedient and being a “doer of the Word (James 1:23)”.

Notice also in this passage of Philippians that we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling”. This outworking of that which God has worked IN us is that aspect of salvation known as sanctification, and this is in obedience to the LORD (1 Sam 15:22; Jer. 7:23; Rom. 6:16; 2 Cor. 10:5; 1 Pet. 1:2).
Obedience to God’s Word and its resulting fruit-bearing is the assurance of answered prayer:

John 15:7
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:8
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

There is yet much more to be said regarding prayer, but these will have to wait until an opportune time, and a separate article, perhaps on FROM The MIND of FIRE.
To conclude this article, may I present the video of David Wilkerson’s message “Hell Shaking Prayer”. This message is a bit over one hour, so you may want to set time aside to view it with your full attention.

Hell Shaking Prayer


This concludes the segments that deal specifically with the weapons of our warfare; in the next segment we will glean some valuable insights from the Old Testament and how they demonstrate spiritual warfare in various biblical types or models. This will lead to other segments where the practical application, utilizing all the information provided in this series will be examined.


May the LORD JESUS bless and inspire your prayer life to deeper depths and greater heights, to the glory of God the Father! We are, each of us, in greater need of prayer than ever before in these dark and unstable days; our nation and our church will only find help through our prayers to the Father, and if we the true church won’t pray, no one else can!

1 comment:

James J. Fire said...

Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon on Search the Scriptures Daily ask the question: "Does my relationship with the LORD affect my prayers?"

http://www.thebereancall.org/node/1092

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