Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Prayer - Why is it Necessary? Ephesians 6:18

Why is Prayer even necessary?

There are many possible directions to go in answering this question but one implied reason that I would like to look at can be found in Ephesians 6:18-20.

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.Ac 4:33 11 Put on uPr 31:25 the full armor vEph 6:11-17 of God so that you can stand against the tactics w Or schemes, or tricks of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh xPhp 3:3 and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,y1Pt 3:22 against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil zMt 6:13; Jn 17:15 in the heavens.aEph 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; Php 2:10
13 This is why you must take up the full armor b1Th 5:8 of God, so that you may be able to resist c2Tm 4:15; 1Pt 5:9 in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand,dPr 24:16; Php 1:27 therefore,
with truth eJn 14:6; 1Jn 5:20 like a belt around your waist, righteousness fMt 6:33; Rm 1:17; 2Pt 1:1 like armor on your chest,1Th
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. Ready to go tell others about the gospel
16 In every situation take the shield iGen 15:1 of faith,jMt 8:10; Ac 3:16; Rm 1:8; 1Co 2:5; Gl 2:16; 1Tm 1:2; Heb 4:2 and with it you will be able to extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one.2Th 3:3
17 Take the helmet l1Th 5:8 of salvation, and the sword mMk 14:47 of the Spirit,nPs 51:11; Jn 1:33; Ac 2:4; Rm 8:9; Gl 5:25; Tit 3:5; Rev 3:22 which is God’s word.

18 Pray o
Mt 5:44; Ac 12:12 at all times in the Spirit pJd 20 with every prayer and request, and stay alert qPr 6:4 in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saintsrThe work of the Holy Spirit that separates believers in Jesus from the world. At the time of saving faith in Jesus, the believer is made a saint; therefore, all believers are saints. The believer participates with the Spirit in a process of transformation that continues until glorification. The goal of sanctification is progressive conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. .
19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness s
2Co 3:12 the mysterytTransliteration of the Greek word mysterion; a secret hidden in the past but now revealed of the gospel.  20 For this I am an ambassador u2Co 5:20 in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.

Many of the translations include this passage as part of the larger section starting in vs. 10 reminding  us that we need empowering by the limitless strength of God.  But why is this necessary?

Because we are at war.

We have an enemy that is against us who uses many methods and tactics to accomplish his goals and victories.  It is coordinated and comes against us on many fronts at various levels.  The primary enemy is not the physical that we can see but the spiritual and the entities of control, influence and corruption that Satan has set up.

And Believers are called to stand against these tactics—to resist them, to oppose them.  And through the strength that God provides, to overcome them.

Prayer then becomes a vital part of this effort.

Ask any military commander what is are the most important elements of victory in battle and they will likely say, intelligence and communication.  The army that can get an accurate picture of the battlefield conditions and then direct and adjust their troops or tactics the fastest gives itself the best opportunity to achieve victory.

The troops are supposed to relay the conditions on the ground up the chain to their commanding officers.  These officers are typically given a higher vantage point of the battle so they can see the bigger picture—this is especially true in modern life with aerial and satellite imagery/video.  Those commanding officers in turn send orders and tactics back down to the troops and they are expected to act on those orders.

An effective strategy in warfare, especially modern, is to disrupt these lines of communication.  If the troops cannot relay their situation and/or the commanding officers cannot get their orders through, then the opposing army cannot act in a coordinated and effective way against your strategy and tactics.

Satan cannot prevent God from hearing our prayer.  But he can interfere with the orders coming to us—he can distract us, tempt us to the point that we do not listen. 

But really, he doesn’t have to try all that hard.  We disrupt our own lines of communication all too willingly.  Believers are great at relaying battleground updates—we call it prayer requests.  We list out those who have ailments, health concerns, job issues—in most cases we are praying for other people—especially when we are in a public or corporate setting.  We don’t pray for ourselves very well and we’re uncomfortable asking for prayer for ourselves.

But what’s more, we do all the talking—we give the battleground updates then hang up—turning off the lines of communication.  It’s like we’re not really interested in listening for the orders from our Commanding Officer. 

It’s no wonder that the Church is so often so powerless and ineffective.  The enemy is coordinated, they have a strategy.   
So does God, but His troops are often not listening.  Many times He works in spite of us. 

No force can work effectively if they are not getting orders from their commanding officer.

To fight these battles, we need Truth that holds us together—the truth of Jesus and the Word.  We need not our own righteousness but His protecting our heart, we need to have our shoes on ready to respond to the orders to Go with the message of the Gospel in much the same way the Israelites were supposed to have their shoes on when observing the Passover.  We need the shield of faith because our enemy is constantly shooting deadly arrows and testing our defenses.  We need the helmet of salvation that changes even the way we think with the transforming of our mind so we know the truth and are not deceived by fine sounding arguments. 

The weapons at our disposal in fighting these battles are the Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) and Prayer.  In prayer we engage in the battle and can receive our orders.

Because prayer is part of the front lines of the spiritual battle is why it is so important to “pray at all times in the Spirit”.  This implies that it is possible to not “pray in the Spirit”.  This works in the same way as worship from John 4.   

Jesus clearly states that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth—meaning there are many people engaged in worship of something but are lacking those important elements—Spirit & Truth.

We can pray things not in accord with the Spirit.  We can pray with the wrong motives, we can pray for things not in God’s will, we can pray our wants, we can pray with sin in our lives.  Men, even how you treat your wife can hinder your prayer (1 Peter 3:7).  This requires staying “alert” and “persevering” in this type of prayer—meaning that Prayer in the Spirit is not easy nor automatic.  It can be hard to focus during prayer, we can fall asleep (“Alert” more literally is not asleep), our mind can drift on to other things and issues.  It takes effort and perseverance to continue praying at all times in the Spirit.

When we are in the Spirit, we have the best opportunity to hear clearly from God.  We can receive our marching orders of what is the best course of action, what God wants to do next, His love for us, how we can serve Him and others.
God provides the Armor, the orders and the weapons in order for His Church to stand against the tactics of the Devil—to resist him and be prepared for the battle.   

Prayer is part of that preparation—it is where we get our orders.  It is a way in which we draw from His strength.


Brandi M. said...

Kelly, I really enjoyed this post! It was inspiring and I learned a lot just from reading it. I am sitting at work wishing I had my bible to read the scriptures you have posted within the message. I miss having you as a pastor, your sermons are really missed.


Kelly Reed said...

Thanks Brandi, I appreciate that. Vicky and I miss you and Cherish. Hope you are both doing well.