April 13, 2018
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 Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
About thirty years ago someone put a book in my hand that opened my eyes to a reality I had no idea of. The book was titled, This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti. The novel told the story of a sensational yet unseen battle in the Heavenly realms between angels and demons playing out behind the scenes of the visible world. The success of the angels rose and fell on the fervency of the prayers of people. The book profoundly changed my understanding of prayer and my motivation to pray.
I remain grateful for the book and its wake-up call in my life and faith; however, I do see its flaws. In my remembrance, the book put far too much stock human agency, as though our failure to pray could put the overall outcome in jeopardy. The book also made it seem like the battle between God and Satan was somehow an even match or a fair fight.
In matters of spiritual warfare I want to make two points very clear. First, we are no match for Satan. Second, Satan is no match for Jesus. On both counts the match is not even close. I do love the great fight song of the Reformation. Martin Luther’s prophetic verse offers a veritable primer on spiritual warfare. My favorite turns of phrase come in the second half of the third stanza.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
What we need is not more armor but more Jesus. The technical term is “Christus Victor.” The Apostle John captured it with these words:
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.
Given this assurance, we can take up the great strategy Paul offers us in today’s text.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
What does this mean; to pray in the Spirit? I suspect it means at least several things. For starters, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in prayer over particular situations and people. Ask the Spirit to give you words, Scripture texts, images and pictures to inform and guide your prayers. Ask the Spirit to give you words of prophecy, knowledge and wisdom to embolden your prayers and to be shared with others. Ask the Spirit to give you a prayer language. Some call this praying in tongues, and it can be a controversial thing but need not be. Should the Spirit see fit to give you this gift, seek out training and be discerning in how it is deployed in practice. On
As I wrote this entry I sensed the Spirit calling me to pray for a dear friend of mine who is in early recovery from a complex surgery. I asked the Lord to help me pray in the Spirit for him. As I began to pray, the words, “He needs water,” came into my mind. I began to lift those words in prayer, that my friend would be flooded with living water. From there I sensed the breaking of a dam and the rushing forward of a powerful river of life. I was led to pray into the visionary text from Ezekiel 47, “River of God bring life to dead places.” I gave myself to several minutes of this kind of praying. I have no idea how it might connect (or not) to my friend and his circumstance. I don’t need to know at this point. I need only go with the impulse of it.
Though I am still in the shallow end of the pool, I have a deep sense of knowing that this kind of praying plays a very important role in the way God works in the every day world. The key to praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests is being available to the Spirit and ready to roll on a moment’s notice. The best way to learn is by praying with others who pray in these kinds of ways. We must learn to trust the instincts of our imagination and be experimental in our willingness to go with leadings and promptings and stop trying to censor whether we are “in our head” or “in the Spirit.”
The Greek word for the English word disciple is “mathetes.” It means, “a learner.” There is significant foundational knowledge we need to thrive as followers of Jesus, but discipleship means taking learning to the next level where it is put into practice. We can read books (and Daily Texts) about spiritual warfare. Discipleship requires putting it into play. Discipleship requires we learn about the full armor of God by putting it on every day. It requires we learn to pray by growing in our practice of praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
All of this leads me to announce my next major series on the Daily Text. Rather than a book of the Bible, I am going to focus on what the Bible teaches concerning prayer. In the spirit of getting ready, I ask for your prayers. We will launch on the Day of Ascension, May 10 and go through the summer. Consider inviting your family, friends, even your whole church to join us.
As we close this three part series on spiritual warfare, I offer five brief take-aways.
- The image of God is the armor of God.
- We must “put on” the full armor of God.
- We need only take our stand and then stand firm.
- He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
- The real work of spiritual warfare is prayer.
AND NEVER EVER EVER FORGET. One little word shall fell him!
Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who embodies and exemplifies what it looks like to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. By your Spirit would you teach me to pray in his way. In Jesus name, amen.
- On a scale of 1-10, where do you place your present practice of prayer. (10 is high). What would it look like to move one number up the scale?
- What is your main take-away from this three part series on prayer and spiritual warfare? How will that take-away find implementation in your life?
- How are you learning to trust the instincts of your imagination in prayer rather than constantly questioning yourself? What might it look like to make yourself more available to the Spirit for prayer?
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, Sower-in-Chief for Seedbed, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.