“For our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12
Think of the most difficult person, most pressing problem, and/or most overwhelming circumstance you’re facing in your life right now. Think of several if you like.
Whatever it is you’re thinking about, whether a person or a circumstance – whoever or whatever it is – it is not your real problem. Hear that again: IT is NOT your REAL problem. The most troubling things in your life, things that you perceive with your five physical senses, are not your real issue. Though you may be wrestling with them verbally, emotionally, financially, even physically, you are wasting your precious time and energy that needs to be reserved for the real culprit – the one who is behind the scenes, striving to direct the details of some of your most acute difficulties. Everything that occurs in the visible, physical world is directly connected to the wrestling match being waged in the invisible, spiritual world. Sounds like a movie, huh?
But Paul’s words, directly out of Ephesians, tell us that we wrestle not against man but with the ruler of this world which is Satan.
Your real enemy – the devil – wants you to ignore the spiritual reality behind the physical one. Because as long as you’re focused on what you can see with your physical eyes, he can continue to run rampant underneath the surface. The more you disregard him, the more damage he is free to do. The enemy may be invisible, but he is not fictional. He is very real, and very persistent, waging war against us constantly.
Our enemy celebrates lethargic Christian living. When we’re giving up on relationships, disregarding the purity of our reputations, yielding to our appetites without putting up much, if any, resistance, he can basically go unchecked. Ultimately, the enemy can hamstring the church from achieving the purposes of God. That’s why he works so hard to beat you down with discouragement. Make you discontent. Lie to you about who God is, causing you to doubt the Lord’s all-good intentions toward you. Hammer you with accusations that place a burden of shame and guilt on your shoulders too heavy to carry. Trick you into thinking your situation will never change, and that God doesn’t hear you or care when you call out to Him. Soon your fire of passion starts to burn low. You become disinterested. Low in spiritual fiber. Your spiritual armor goes unworn and unused.
Now you’re exactly where the enemy wants you – where you no longer want to fight for peace and passion in your marriage, where you no longer believe your child can be restored, where you no longer hope for healing in your body, where you no longer see any path to freedom from your addictions, where you just don’t see the purpose in praying anymore….so you don’t. You don’t ask or seek or knock.
Did you know that more than 4,000 churches close each year? That the 5th largest unchurched nation is the United States? Could this be because His Church, the Bride of Christ, is not standing together, a vast army, united in prayer? The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive the world.
So what if our world is morally declining because our generation fails to pray? What if this generation has been too busy or too unbelieving to pray? What if God’s conquering days are when the Church has given herself to prayer – praying for the advancement of God’s cause?
“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Ask of me is the condition – a praying people willing and obedient. The strongest one to stand against the enemy is the one who is the best knocker. The secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray. To stop the advancement of the enemy we must stand together and fight in prayer.
Portions adapted from:
- EM Bounds on Prayer
- The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer
- Moving Mountains by John Eldredge