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Spiritual Warfare 4

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE: PART 2: ARMOR: PART 3

The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, has probably influenced more revivals than any other book.

His life was one of fervent prayer for the American Indians.

He was converted at the age of 21 and immediately became a pioneer missionary.

He spent 6 years in astonishing, agonizing prayer, until, in 1744, when he was 27, a remarkable revival spread over his work.

 

In 1742, when David was 24 years old, and a Christian for 3 years, he wrote the following in his journal:

"I set apart this day for secret fasting and prayer, to entreat to God to direct and bless me with regard to the great work I have in view, of preaching the Gospel.  Just last night the Lord visited me marvelously in prayer: I think my soul never was in such an agony before.  I felt no restraint; for the treasures of divine grace were opened before me.  I wrestled for absent friends, for the ingathering of souls, and for the children of God in many distant places.  I was in such agony, form sun half an hour high, till near dark, that I was all over wet with sweat.  Oh, my dear Jesus did sweat blood for poor souls!   Long for more compassion for them."

David Brainerd understood the importance and power of prayer.

Today, we are going to look at what Ephesians 6 says about prayer.

First, let's review:

In the first message, we looked at Ephesians as an orientation about the Christian life as to why spiritual warfare is essential.

We discussed three areas that provide a background for our topic: a) the city of Ephesians and its involvement in worshipping false gods; b) that Christ is exalted and we are able to have conquest over the enemy; c) the character, or nature of spiritual warfare.

In the second message, we saw that God gives us weapons in which we may obtain victory over our enemy and live a victorious Christian life.

Those weapons we looked at were:

1.)   Belt of Truth: Christians need to have candor, sincerity, truthfulness.

2.)   Breastplate of righteousness: Righteousness will produce spiritual fruit and draw us close to God.

3.) The Shoes Of the Preparation of the Gospel: A Christian's life must be properly protected and equipped.

In the 3rd message, we looked at three more spiritual weapons:

 4.)  Shield of Faith:  Faith is what overcomes every foe (1 John 5:4).

As believers use the shield of faith, the fiery darts of unbelief and doubt are kept away.

 5.)  Helmet of Salvation:  The blessed hope must be like a helmet to protect the mind.

6.)    Sword of the Spirit: The sword of the Spirit (and prayer) are weapons for attacking Satan’s strongholds and defeating him.

It also enables us to share the Gospel of truth with others.

In this message, we want to look at how prayer is foundational for the deployment of all the other weapons, and how that can be used as a weapon.

I want to say that prayer should not be considered a seventh piece of armor that God has provided for the Christian soldier.

Prayer is too grand, too foundational, too essential, too encompassing to be listed as just another piece of spiritual armor, important as they are.

Rather, prayer is the key to effective warfare with the powers of evil.

Today, I would like us to see seven aspects that Ephesians 6:18 teaches us about praying.

Ephesians 6:18:  "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."

1)     First Aspect On Prayer = How to Pray: Answer: PRAY IN THE SPIRIT

 

The phrase "in the Spirit" (en pneumati) is usually taken to mean in communion with the Spirit or "in the power of the Spirit."

Prayer in the Spirit probably implies inspired prayer.

It means to be in communion with the Holy Spirit, or in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This means we pray according to God's will.

As Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

Jesus always prayed according to His Father's will and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If, as Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then we can pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is, the Spirit helps us to pray -- empowers us to pray.

The Holy Spirit even intercedes on our behalf, because often we don't know how to pray.

Romans 8:26-27:  "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.

27    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."

Take comfort that the Holy Spirit is helping you to pray in His Spirit, and on your behalf.

2)     Second Aspect on Prayer = When to Pray: Answer: PRAY ON ALL OCCASIONS

 

"On all occasions" (en panti kairo) suggests that the believer will be in constant prayer in preparation for the battle as well as in the engagement itself.

Colossians 4:2 says to "devote [proskartereo] yourselves to prayer."

Devote =  to be earnest towards, to persevere, be constantly diligent, to adhere closely to (as a servitor), to attend - continually!

According to this passage, when to pray?  Answer:  Always! 

We are to be earnest and diligently praying -- continually.

I.e.: When you work, play, travel, going to sleep, before you eat, out-loud, quietly, at church, in times of peace, in times of trouble, in your devotions, at prayer meetings.

Take every opportunity to pray.

God hears you when you pray, no matter where you are, or how you pray!

He loves for you to communicate with Him.

3.)  A Third Aspect On Prayer: Using a Variety of Prayers

The "prayers" (proseuche) in verse 18, represents the approach to God in general, and "requests" (deesis) a special form of it, namely supplication, or prayer requests.

What kind of prayers are there?  {A.C.T.S.}

¨     Adoration (or worshipping God)

In adoration, we remember who God is. 

We praise Him for His love, power, majesty, and for His wonderful gift Jesus.

¨     Confession of sins to God

Illustration: Man in Wiang Hang believed he never sinned, because no one caught him.

All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:9).

When we confess, we are not telling God anything that He does not already know.

But it does show that you are sorry for them and that you really do want His forgiveness, and are determined, with His help, not to keep on repeating the same old sins, day after day.

This time of owning up to your sin is a time to be honest and humble.

God never stops loving you, no matter how sinful you have been (see prodigal son story in Luke 15:11-32).

The order in which you pray is not important.

One may move constantly between adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.

But if we want God to hear and answer our prayers, we need to confess and let go of our own sin.

¨     Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to "Give thanks to God in all circumstances."

Psalm 104:1, 5 says, "Give thanks to the Lord … remember the wonders He has done."

Before you start thinking about what you are going to pray for, spend some moments in giving thanks to God.

Thanksgiving moves the focus off of ourselves and on to God.

It helps us to focus and adore God.  If focuses on the Majesty of God, who He is, and what He can accomplish.

It helps to posture our heart in prayer.

It is hard to be discouraged when we are thankful.

Briefly, why & when do we give thanks to God:

a)     As we approach Him (Ps. 95:2)

b)     For the gift of Jesus (2 Cor. 9:15)

c)     Because God is good (Ps. 136:1)

d)     For deliverance from sin's grip (Rom. 7:23-25)

e)     All of God's good gifts (1 Tim. 4:4-5)

f)      The defeat of death and sin (1 Cor. 15:57)

g)     Give thanks continually (Heb. 13:15)

In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus healed ten lepers, but only 1 -- a Samaritan -- bothered to come back and say thank you.

¨     Supplication =  asking for things in prayer

This leads us to our   4.)  Fourth Aspect On Prayer: Requests (supplications)

This is what this verse is focusing on.

Supplication is when we make specific requests in prayer, both for others and self.

Here are 4 Prayer Topics for the Bible:

1)     The Sick (James 5:14-16)

14        Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

15        And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

16        Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

2.     Rulers (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

1          I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--

2          for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

3          This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

3.     More Christian Workers  (Matt. 35-38)

35        Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

36        When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

37        Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

38              Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

4.  Yourself (1 Chron. 4:10; Ps. 106:4-5)

Psalms 106:4-5:  "Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them,  5  that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise."

We can come to God with all of our requests.

He answers us as if we are the only ones in the world.

However, be sure we ask, not out of selfishness, but according to His will.

5)     A Fifth Aspect, Is That Praying Is One Way To Be Spiritually Awake

This word, alert, means to "watch," or to "keep awake."

We are to be aware of what is going on.

As a soldier, BE ALERT to how the enemy is attacking.

Be aware of the battle going on!

Illustration: On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,000 Americans and crippled the Pacific Fleet.

Why such a devastating defeat?  Answer:  Because it was a surprise attack.

In spiritual warfare, Satan wants to catch you by surprise that he might achieve similarly devastating results.

That's why you need to be on the alert (1 Cor. 16:13). 

Make a determined effort to evaluate what the adversary is doing.

Many believers live the Christian life in a state of stupor.

We need to know be aware of the spiritual warfare and how the enemy attacks.

Furthermore, we need to know what, and for whom, to pray for!

I don't at all mean this as gossip, but to know how to pray and for whom to pray.

What is going on in the world?  Your country?  Government?  Town?  Neighborhood? 

In your church?  In your family?

As much as possible, find out and learn how you can pray.

Ask your pastor and elders/leaders their prayer requests.

Ask you children their prayer requests.

Read newspapers, listen to the news on the radio (or get access to news), so that you can pray.

Often, the Holy Spirit, in agreement to the Word, may impress upon us what to pray for a person, or may wake us up to pray for a situation.

Jesus knew when His disciples were "in trouble" and the need to intercede for them.

Luke 22:31-32: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

As Jesus, we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that we can effectively pray for all kinds of situations and people.

6.)   Sixth, We Need To Persevere In Prayer

E.M. Bounds has said that "Prayer, without perseverance, or fervor, stakes nothing on the issue, because it has nothing to stake. It comes with empty hands … Fervourless prayer has no heart in it; it is an empty thing, an unfit vessel. Heart, soul, and life, must find place in all real praying. Heaven must be made to feel the force of this crying unto God."

God wants us to persevere in prayer!  To pray fervently!

Our Lord warns us against feeble praying. "Men ought always to pray," He declares, "and not to faint."

That means, that we are to be  perseverant enough to carry us through long periods of pleading prayer.

Many of the great Bible characters were notable examples of fervency of spirit when seeking God: Daniel, Hannah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, David, and Ezra, were all men and women of fervent prayer.

It is not in our power, perhaps, to create fervency, or perseverance of spirit at will, but we can pray God to implant it.

Prayer must be clothed with fervency, strength and power.

God had heard Asa's prayer in early life, but disaster came and trouble was sent, because he had given up the life of prayer and simple faith.

Asa was not fervent in prayer, and his life ended in disaster (2 Chronicles 14-16).

Colossians speaks of Epaphras, who persevered in prayer.

In Colossians 4:12: "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured."

And in Romans 15:30, Paul charged the Romans to "strive together with him in prayer."

That is, Paul desired them to help him in his struggle of prayer.

The word, "strive" means to enter into a contest, to fight against adversaries.

It means to engage with fervent zeal to endeavor to obtain.

And that is what God wants us to do: to engage with fervent zeal to endeavor to obtain.

Illustration:

 

Admiral Peary was victorious in his quest for the North Pole only because he was persistent. He devoted over twenty years to seeking it. The Eskimos told him, "You are like the sun. You always come back." His dominating desire led him to persevere through physical, financial, and natural difficulties. Afterwards he said, "For twenty-four years, sleeping or awake, to place the stars and stripes on the Pole has been my dream."

Should we not seek spiritual victories as earnestly and persistently as Peary sought his geographical one?

7.)  Finally, We Are To Pray For Fellow Christians

John 17:9: "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours."

Colossians 1:3: "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you."

Col. 4:3: "And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains."

1 Thes 5:25: "Brothers, pray for us."

2 Th 1:11: "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

James 5:16: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

 The whole church is involved in the process of arming.

In fact, each believer is responsible for arming other believers.

One big way that we are able to arm ourselves, is to pray for each other.

We are to pray for all the saints!

Prayer is a prerequisite and means of acquiring divine ena­blement.

Often, our prayers are too much for ourselves and too little for others.

We must learn to pray as much for others and with others as for ourselves.

Illustration:  Praying for those in Wiang Hang - Bok going to prison & baptized in a barrell.

Conclusion:

 

Armor and weapons are not sufficient to win a battle; there must be energy to do the job.

Our energy comes from prayer.

Our weapons help us to overcome the deceptions of the enemy: Belt of Truth; Breastplate of righteousness; The Shoes Of the Preparation of the Gospel; Shield of Faith; Helmet of Salvation; Sword of the Spirit:

As you enjoy God's presence in your life, you become increasingly aware of your Lord's identity and power and character. 

Nothing is too difficult for God to handle. 

There are no limits to His power. 

Life can't throw anything at you that you can't handle with God.

2 Corinthians 9:8: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Furthermore, the more you spend time with God, the more you begin to act like Him (2 Pet. 1:5-7).

You become more Christ-like.

2 Peter 1:3:  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

Many times we miss the victory or the greater blessing because we do not continue long enough in prayer.

Will you pray?  Will you defeat the enemy and live a victorious Christian life?

Invitation:

You have the victory over the enemy and eternal life is in Christ Jesus.

Won't you come to Him now?

He will receive you and bring you into His family.

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