Jack Graham - Warfare Prayer
Take God's Word and turn with me, please, to Ephesians, the sixth chapter. Ephesians chapter 6. I want to remind you for just a moment where we've been so far in our series "Invisible: There's More to Life Than What You See". And in the sixth chapter of Ephesians we have been engaged in spiritual battle, understanding our enemy and resisting in the name and in the power of our great Savior; to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might". I want to remind you that we've learned that Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus came to destroy the works of the enemy, the works of the devil. And one day He will cast him into eternal judgment and hell. I want us to remind ourselves that the power of Christ is in our lives.
1 John 4:4 "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". The same power that defeated Satan at the cross in the resurrection by the power of the resurrection, that same power, that very same presence is indwelling us, living in us. We need to always resist the enemy. You have the power in Jesus' name. You have the authority because of His shed blood and because of His victory over death and sin and hell and Satan himself. You have the authority to overcome. Not to be overcome by temptation and sin and bondage of any kind, but you can live in the victory that is ours in the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time we must not be ignorant or uninformed regarding his schemes, his snares. We must never put ourselves in a position so that we are tempted.
Jesus taught us to pray, Matthew 6:13 "Deliver us from evil", therefore, we're to put on the armor of God; this spiritual armor that we have seen described in Ephesians chapter 6. We are to put on the armor of God! It is foolish to enter battle of any kind without protection and God has given us these weapons for our warfare. The battle is in the mind, and therefore, we're to take every thought captive in His name. We are to feed upon the Word and obey the principles. Mighty which are powerful weapons to the "pulling down of strongholds". We've learned that, haven't we, in the last few weeks that all of this is true. But there's one more vital lesson that we must learn and apply, and it's seen here in the eighteenth verse of Ephesians 6; because for so many this is the missing piece, this is the missing ingredient to living in this victory that we have in Christ.
Verse 18: "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me by the opening of my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak". It's essential if you are in battle to stay in touch, stay in communication with the Commander-in-Chief. And so in our spiritual battles we must be constantly in touch, in prayer with our Savior. Prayer is the invisible energy, the invisible force behind the believer's armor that is laced through and through our armor, the weapons of our warfare.
I look at our nation: unbelief is rampant and militant; the name of Jesus is profaned and blasphemed. Morality, even perversion is a common experience for so many today; morality is in a freefall. Demonic activity is on the rise. The family is under attack; marriage is being redefined; babies are aborted. Drunkenness and drug addiction are commonplace. Violence is increasing, and that's just in America! Because around the world spiritual warfare is very, very real; the church is persecuted. There are more Christians dying for their faith in this generation than any previous generation. And while we face some opposition for our faith in this country, in other parts of the world people who stand for Christ are facing genuine, authentic, fierce persecution for Christ and the Gospel's sake.
Yes, we are at war! And the only way to win this war is in the name of Jesus to put on the armor of God and to pray with power! J. C. Ryle, an Anglican bishop, said this, "The saddest symptom about so many so-called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services one or twice a week, but the great spiritual warfare, it's watchings and strugglings, it's agonies and anxieties, it's battles and contests, of all this, they appear to know nothing at all". So this is a battle cry and the battleground is believing prayer. Prayer is not preparation for battle; prayer is the battle! And it is in the power of passionate praying that we find our strength.
When you read verse 18, look at it carefully, you may see some punctuation there and, of course, there were no punctuation marks in the original text of the New Testament, so you could actually remove that punctuation mark in the way that it is written for it says at verse 17, "take the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God praying at all times in the Spirit". This is not a disconnect from one verse to the next, but rather, it is in praying that we activate the armor, that we engage the enemy! And so with the same breath of the Holy Spirit that tells us to put on the armor of God, we are, therefore, to be energized in prayer of all kinds, praying in the Spirit. The Bible speaks often of this kind of prayer, agonizing in prayer.
I'm calling this message "Warfare Prayer". We need a new generation of prayer warriors. Colossians 4:12 speaks of our struggling in prayer. It's a word which means agonizing, contending, struggling! Now prayer is worship, we know that, we worship God in prayer. Prayer is work; it is a mental and spiritual discipline in which we are to work at our commitment to prayer, the exercise of prayer. But prayer is not only worship and work, prayer is warfare! Prayer is war! Jesus said in Mark 14:38, "Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". On one occasion the disciples of Jesus were trying to cast out evil spirits from a demoniac boy, and they couldn't do it. And they were frustrated at their failure.
Jesus came down from the mountain where He had been communing with God the Father, along with Moses and Elijah there at the Mount of Transfiguration. And Jesus said, "This kind of deliverance, this kind of power comes only by prayer and fasting"! Sincere, steadfast, struggling prayer! When Peter was facing temptation, Jesus looked at him and said, "Satan desires to sift you like wheat, to grind you into powder". But then Jesus said, "I have prayed for you". In behalf of this man Jesus prayed against the powers and the works of the enemy. The early church knew this kind of power, this kind of warfare praying. When Jesus told them to gather in an upper room, they did exactly as they were commanded, and what were they doing in that upper room, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit? They were praying! And the Spirit came and then God moved, and lives were changed. Thousands of people were being brought into the kingdom of God as the church was birthed.
And so, what did the church do in Acts chapter 2? They continued steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and in fellowship, and in prayer! Prayer wasn't just a part of the agenda; it was and is the agenda, personally and corporately, as the church! So the church advanced because of prayer. God brought more and more people into the kingdom because these were men and women who knew how to pray! The powers of darkness and strong holds of Satan and religion and all the rest, they knew how to pray that away in the name of Jesus! In Acts chapter 3, on their way to the Temple, before the first miracle of the first century church, what were Peter and John doing on their way to the Temple that day? They were going there to pray!
Acts chapter 4, when Peter and John were in prison for their faith, what did the church do? The church prayed! They had no contacts with the higher ups; they had no political persuasion; they had no ability to coerce the judgments of powerful Roman imperialists. So what did they do? They huddled up and they prayed, and God opened prison doors and delivered Simon Peter and John! Prayer! When we pray like this, walls come down, strong holds are destroyed, lives are transformed. Any time this has happened, any time you see the power of God at work in a supernatural way, in a powerful way, it is because someone is praying! Amen? What kind of prayer is this?
See the prevailing power of prayer, the prevailing power of prayer. Verse 18 says, "praying at all times in the Spirit". The Spirit intercedes with us; He is our prayer partner. This is what it means to pray in the Spirit. Prayer, therefore, means that we cooperate with God Almighty, that God Himself moves in response to our prayers. Prayer is the church's secret weapon! In contrast to that, prayerlessness is the signal of our defeat, the quickest way to defeat. I look at my own life: any failure that I've had in my life is ultimately a prayer failure, because I have failed to pray and I ought to pray! Satan fears our prayers more than anything we do! Prayer is the greatest weapon in defeating the snares and the strategies and the schemes of the devil. This is something the devil doesn't want you to know!
Samuel Chadwick, the great Christian of yesteryear, put it this way in the well-known statement: "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when we pray"! The prevailing power of prayer. This is a different kind of prayer. This is not a "Now I lay me down to sleep" kind of praying. This is not "God bless our food" kind of praying! This is militant praying! This is mighty praying in the name of the Lord! And prayer advances the church in reaching the world for Christ! Prayer is God's means of expanding the kingdom of light against the kingdom of darkness! And you personally can rise above every weakness and every temptation when you pray this way! Prayer and a prayer warrior is a mighty tool in the hand of Almighty God!
One of the great battles of the Old Testament took place when the children of Israel came against Amalek and the sons of Amalek, a fierce fighting force. And Moses, knowing that the power was in God, that the battle is the Lord's, he said to Joshua, "Joshua, take the army, go down into the battle against Amalek, and I will stay here on the mountain and pray"! I think if I had been Joshua, I might have said, "Moses, you take the troops down into the valley and I'll stay up on the mountaintop and pray"! But Joshua was a faithful soldier. He took those troops down and Moses stood on the mountaintop with his hands lifted up to the Lord, praying!
But something happened as Moses wearied in his praying, struggled to keep his hands in the air. His hands began to wilt and to dip. And when this happened and Moses waned in his praying, the battle turned the other way. Moses would lift his hands, and this is supernatural activity, of course, Moses would lift his hands and the battle would go Israel's way, and so on, until Aaron and Hur, two men came along Moses and held his hands up high so that he could continue to wage the warfare of prayer! And God's people prevailed.
Now listen to me, if we want to see the tide of the battle turned in America, then Christians must hold up holy hands in prayer! We must prevail in prayer! This is God's battle! And therefore we must use spiritual weapons to defeat spiritual enemies and the power of this weaponry is in the warfare of prayer! Put on the armor of God! Resist Satan in the name of Jesus! Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and with all prayer and supplication... This is how we prevail in prayer because Satan must flee at the name of Jesus. Satan has no power, darkness has no strength apart in the presence of Jesus. Victory depends upon our warrior spirit.
David was a great king, but before he was a king, he was a shepherd. He was the shepherd-king. Before he was a king, after he was a shepherd, he was a soldier, brave and bold as he slew the great giant Goliath. David couldn't wait to get after that giant; he ran to him because that giant was defaming the glory of God! So the shepherd's heart was also a soldier's heart. He had a warrior spirit. How did David find the faith, the boldness, the courage to go at that giant and to win many other victories in the name of the Lord God? How did he learn that? Where did he gain the warrior's heart? It was in those long nights of prayer. The Psalms record them, praises and battles fought and victories won in prayer. But God gave us the Psalms not only as a book of worship, but to remind us how we win in Jesus' name. That is the prevailing power of warfare prayer.
And then quickly, the protective power of warfare prayer. Verse 18 speaks of being alert always. We are to be alert to the enemy who roams about like a roaring lion. We are in battle so we need protection. We are often so proud, so self-sufficient, so dependent upon ourselves, so presumptuous. We try to live in our own strength, fighting and scheming and fighting our own battles, and losing our own wars, therefore. But God has given us this powerful weapon of prayer: prayer as a covering, prayer as a strength, that even in the fiercest fight we can stand firm! Why? Because in prayer we gain perspective. We see our great God; we know that He is greater than the enemy! Our God is able!
Many believers pray to a God who is too small! And if you pray to a small God, your victories will be small! And if your victories are small then you are vulnerable to the enemy. But God delivers us from the enemy when we pray. Back in Acts 4, I was talking about it earlier, when the church prayed and God shook the place where they were praying. They prayed for boldness, they prayed for the power of God's Spirit, they prayed for the deliverance of Peter and John. But before they prayed for the deliverance, they prayed in the name of a great God. They said, "God, we know that You're in control of all of this. We know that You have this in the palm of Your hand. We know that You are mighty to the pulling down of these wicked strongholds". And then that strength that they prevailed.
Pray to a God who will deliver you. The problem is for so many of us the enemy has us believing lies. Lies like, "I can't overcome this sin". "I can't defeat this habit in my life". Or lies like: "My marriage is never going to make it". Or "My kids are never going to come back to the Lord". Or "I'm never going to get through this illness". Lies! Lies! All of them lies! But when we pray, gives us a conquering spirit, an overcoming spirit! We begin to believe again! We believe to trust the promises of God again! We begin to stand on the strength and in the strength that is our God when we pray!
And then finally, the pervasive power of this kind of praying. Verse 18, look at it again. It says: "Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer", all prayer means anytime in all kinds of praying, whether it's adoration or confession or thanksgiving or supplication; whether it is worship, whether it is singing, "with all kinds of prayer and supplication". Prayer, that's a general word for any kind all kinds of prayer. Supplication, that is a specific word which means asking and receiving, believing and receiving. "And to that end keep alert". Stay awake! "With all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints".
Notice the "all's" in this passage. This is why I'm calling this part of the message the pervasive power of prayer. We're to pray at all times, all different kinds of ways, different focus in our praying. We're to pray for ourselves, we're to pray for our families, we're to pray for our friends, we're to pray for the church, we're to pray on our knees, we're to pray on our faces, we're to pray with our hands folded, we're praying with our arms lifted, but we pray with all prayer and all supplication! Today in warfare it is essential and typical that the forces on the ground win when they have air cover. Whoever wins the battle for air space, wins the battle on the ground. We have won the battle for air space! This battle is in the heavenlies, and our Savior has won this battle for us! We win on the ground because we have a superior air force, the power of prayer!
The work of God in the heavenlies where the battle is always won! Thus we pray in the Spirit! Warfare prayer includes praying for one another! We're instructed to pray for all the saints, not just ourselves because why? We're all facing battles. There's not anyone in this room, not one of us here not fighting battles of some kind. Paul himself said if you're looking for someone to pray for, pray for me! Paul was a missionary, a servant of Christ; his life on the line. He said, "Hold me up in prayer! I need some prayer warriors who will lift me up before the throne of grace"!
Paul was a warrior but he knew he couldn't fight alone! Pray for missionaries, pray for servants of Christ, May God give us victory as we pray in the power of His great name. I close with this: Most battles and wars are won tilted by one singular battle or one great moment in the war. For example the battle of Gettysburg tilted the Civil War towards victory to the North. Napoleon, the sweeping across Europe and taking every country until Napoleon met his Waterloo, as the British defeated him there in Brussels. D-Day was the invasion of the Allied Forces into France and that sealed the doom of the Axis Powers, and insured the outcome of the Second World War. Great battles!
It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte one day had some of his generals together. He was frustrated because it was becoming obvious that he would not rule the world which was his ambition. He unfurled a map of the world and he pointed to a red spot on that map which said Waterloo. And Napoleon said, "Were it not for that red spot, I would have ruled the world"! I can imagine Satan himself gathering the minions of hell around him and unfurling a map of the world and pointing to one little small corner of the earth in Jerusalem, and there to a place called Calvary where Jesus died on the cross, and saying, "If it were not for that red spot, I would have ruled the world". But, praise God for His blood, and therefore, our victory in Jesus! Therefore we are in Him more than conquerors!