Prayer Is The Battle

When I was growing up and struggling with a problem, my Mom would always challenge me with one simple question—“Have you prayed about it?”

This is a great question because it helps us keep the main thing the main thing.

Typically we have three substitutes for prayer—

(1) Ignoring the problem. We’re like the board of directors that was facing falling sales and falling profits, but their solution was to just wait for something magical to happen.

(2) Talking about the problem. Christians often call this “a prayer request.” We take 10 minutes to give our friends all the gory, depressing details of our situation and oftentimes say “please pray for me” as we walk away. Solomon said, “Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities” (Ecclesiastes 5:7).

(3) Working to solve the problem. This isn’t in the Bible, but many times we act as if it is: God helps those who help themselves. Instead, God wants us to call on Him so He can reveal things to us (see Jeremiah 33:3).

Something that is in the Bible is this: “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But there is a condition for this, and it’s the part of the sentence that comes before the asking that makes all the difference—

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7).

Oswald Chambers said, “We are apt to think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for work; whereas in the teaching of Jesus, prayer is not to fit us for the ‘greater works,’ prayer is the work. Prayer is…the means whereby we assimilate more and more of His mind, and the means whereby He unveils His purposes to us.”

Prayer IS the work!

We don’t ignore the problem, and we don’t just talk about the problem. But neither do we pray and then work on the problem. Prayer is the work!

It can’t be stated enough: Prayer doesn’t prepare us to work, prayer IS the work.

Even the Apostle Paul identified this in his teaching on spiritual warfare. In language similar to what Jesus said in John 15:7, Paul says, “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).

Paul doesn’t tell us to ignore the devil’s schemes, nor does he tell us to talk about them. But neither does he tell us to put on God’s armor to fight against the devil’s schemes. He tells us to put on the armor of God so that we can pray (see Ephesians 6:18-20).

The armor of God is NOT to fight in, but to shield us while we pray!

PRAYER IS THE BATTLE … PRAYER IS THE WORK

When you are facing a difficulty, don’t ignore it, don’t just talk about it, and don’t go to work fighting it. Listen to the Holy Spirit asking you, “Have you prayed about it,” and then drop to your knees and PRAY!

This principle is illustrated so wonderfully in the life of David. We’ll be looking at David’s prayers over the next few weeks, and I hope you will join me in learning that prayer is the battle!

A Prayer For The New Year

“Especially would we make mention of the goodness of the Lord during another year. Each believer here has trodden a different pathway to some it has been a very smooth road, to others a very rough climb: to some a deep descent into the valley of sorrow and humiliation. But Thou hast led Thy people by a right way. With all the twisting of the wilderness march, we are persuaded that when Thou leadest us about, still we go the nearest way. Thou knowest best, and oftentimes to retreat is to advance, and to be beaten back is to make surest headway. We would again in the recollection of the whole year, whatever it may have been, lift up the song of grateful praise, raise another stone of help to record the loving-kindness of our God.

“And now do we hoist sail and draw up anchor to sail into another year. O Thou blessed Pilot of the future as of the past, we are so happy to leave all to Thee; but in leaving all to Thee we have one wish, and it is that Thou wouldst in the next year glorify the Father’s name in us more than in any other year of our lives. Perhaps this may involve deeper trial, but let it be if we can glorify God. Perhaps this may involve the being cast aside from the service that we love; but we would prefer to be laid aside if we could glorify Thee the better. Perhaps this may involve the ending of all life’s pleasant work and the being taken home—well, Thy children make no sort of stipulations with their God, but this one prayer ascends from all true hearts this morning, ‘Father, glorify Thy name.’” —Charles Spurgeon

An Ordinary Simple Christian

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.” —C.S. Lewis

Love Is Really Love

Love is really love—when we are loving the unlovable.

Forgiveness is really forgiveness—when we are forgiving the unforgivable.

Repentance is really repentance—when we let our wrong loves be broken by the rightness of God’s unbreakable love.

Faith is really faith—when we believe God for the unbelievable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

Christ’s Love Is Unstoppable!

“Sometimes our deepest suffering is that voice in our head. And maybe that’s exactly the point—the enemy of your soul wants nothing more at the end of the day than to make you and all your offered years feel like so much wasted effort. …

“How do you survive if you don’t turn on the enemy of your soul and call him by what his ugly name really means: prosecutor? The very name satan literally means ‘prosecutor.’ And his work isn’t ultimately to tempt you, but to try you.

“To try your past, to try your perseverance in believing you’re worth anything, to try your patience with yourself and your whole bent-up world. …

“He would steal our presence, our very knowledge of the Healer’s presence, if he could. If you let satan prosecute you, you will ultimately imprison yourself. …

“The prosecutor of your soul can’t ever nail you. Time can’t wreck your life. You can’t wreck your life. Nothing in all this world can separate you from the love of Christ, and His love is your life. Your life is unwreakable. Because Christ’s love is unstoppable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

**You can read other quotes from The Broken Way here, here, and here.

Who’s Driving Your Bus?

“So who’s driving your bus? You … or your what-if thoughts of cancer? Feel free to have a conversation with the disease and put it in its proper place. …

“If you want to empty your mind of those awful cancer what-ifs, you need to find something else to put in their place. Because if all you do is try really hard not to think about something, you’ll think about it all the more! … You need to crowd cancer what-ifs right out of your mind by pouring in much more productive thoughts. …

A mind filled with the best doesn’t have room for the worst. A mind filled with the beautiful doesn’t have space for the ugly. A mind filled with things to praise doesn’t have a spot for cursing.” —Lynn Eib, in Peace In The Face Of Cancer (emphasis mine)

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

For some other beautiful things on which to meditate, check out some other quotes from Lynn Eib here and here.

What We Believe

“Never run away with the idea that it doesn’t matter much what we believe or think; it does. What we believe and think, we are; not what we say we believe and think, but what we really do believe and think, we are; there is no divorce at all.” —Oswald Chambers, in Run Today’s Race

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