WE ARE TO BE CLOTHED UPON BY PRAYER, ANOTHER OFFENSIVE WEAPON
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
The sword of the Spirit, i.e. the rhema Word of God, is one of our weapons. The other one is ‘prayer’. Prayer is not just a desperate cry for help, it is an offensive weapon with which we may destroy the enemy.
In order to properly use rhema, prayer is vital. Could Elijah had spoken rhema to cause fire to fall from heaven without first praying? Too many want to speak rhema without communication with headquarters to know what God wants spoken. Imagine a soldier in the battlefield not checking with headquarters to see if he should attack or retreat. No! First he checks with headquarters, and then he knows what he should do. In the same way, we should learn to commune with God, so that we know what His will is for us to speak.
Soldiers in the Lord's army must keep in touch with the Commander. We're the gun that will fire, but He will give us the bullets. To run off to battle without prayer and communion with God, is like running into battle with an empty gun. many Christians do that.
Intercession is vital. We need to stay sensitive to the Spirit. To be ready to battle the devil, and to be able to loose God's power on people and situations, we need an intercessory nature. This is a definite must. Intercede daily for leaders, government, family, enemies, unsaved, sick, etc. Then you are tuned in for God to give you the rhema to speak.
To try to do rhema without being an intercessor is common, but is also why the church too often has many revival services with no signs and wonders. Too many have the gospel, with no power. Keep in touch with God. Let the Spirit put burdens upon you. Carry those burdens to God in prayer daily. Some will be answered through prayer. Some will be answered by God giving you the rhema to speak. You will see the enemy bound, and the blessing loosed. Then you will have learned how to use the "SWORD OF THE SPIRIT."
PRAYER, A POWERFUL WEAPON
"ELIJAH WAS A MAN SUBJECT TO LIKE PASSIONS AS WE ARE, AND HE PRAYED EARNESTLY THAT IT RAIN NOT, AND IT DIDN'T FOR 3 1/2 YEARS. HE PRAYED AGAIN, AND IT RAINED, AND THE EARTH GAVE FORTH ITS CROPS."
James (who wrote the above verse) had more to say on the subject of prayer than any other New Testament epistle. The book of James is drenched with the doctrine of prayer. James was nicknamed by the early church -- "CAMEL KNEES", they called him. His knees were so calloused from his incessant praying, that they appeared similar to the knees of camels. When God wants to teach us something, He uses a practitioner -not a theorist.
Who motivated James to such a prayer life? Who was James' example? James 5:17 shows us that Elijah was one of his examples. This man, of whom James speaks, was a man with the same feelings as we have. James did not see Elijah as a mighty prophet, who was so spiritual that we could never attain such stature with God. Elijah was a person like you and I. He had problems, perplexities, fears, doubts, frustrations, but he prayed. What made him different was that he prayed. If Elijah, who was like you and I, could have a rich prayer life -- so can we.
I Kings 18:41-42
"AND ELIJAH SAID UNTO AHAB, GET THEE UP, EAT AND DRINK; FOR THERE IS A SOUND OF ABUNDANCE OF RAIN. SO AHAB WENT UP TO EAT AND TO DRINK...ELIJAH WENT UP TO THE TOP OF CARMEL, AND HE CAST HIMSELF DOWN UPON THE EARTH, AND PUT HIS FACE BETWEEN HIS KNEES."
Why was Elijah so earnest? Elijah had been told by God that He would send rain (I Kings 18:1). If God had promised rain, why was Elijah so earnest? Elijah knew that prayer is the action that translates God's promises into performance.
Elijah prayed "earnestly." Earnestly is not the recitation of a model prayer. It is not reciting the Lord's prayer. It is not saying the rosary. It is truly praying, meaning every word, thinking every word. Many don't do that. Too many Christians have so learned the Christian jargon, and cliches' of Christian talk that their prayers may sound fine, but come from the mind, not the heart.
Isn't it refreshing to hear the prayer of a new convert? It is simple, honest, and somehow they seem to get answers to their prayers. This is because their prayers are from their hearts, not a memorized, form prayer that is not even thought as one prays. God delights in the simple, heart-felt prayers of new Christians. He is not looking for the flowery, well-phrased cliches', and wordiness, as many Christians.
In I Kings 18:43, the servant reports back to Elijah that "THERE IS NOTHING." Often, when we pray, it is hard to see an answer coming. The outlook is so dark. Yet, Elijah did not give up. He continued to pray earnestly. Time after time, he sent the servant up the hill to see if any cloud were on the horizon. Finally, on the seventh time, (vs. 44) "THERE ARISES A LITTLE CLOUD." This was just a little sign. It wasn't much. "THERE WAS GREAT RAIN." (vs. 45) Elijah had expected rain, and it came. If we expect little when we pray, we get little. Some expect nothing, and get it. Elijah expected a great rain, and he received it.
In Acts 12, they interceded for Peter who was in jail.
"PETER WAS KEPT IN PRISON, BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING FOR HIM BY THE CHURCH UNTO GOD."
God answered their prayer. They had prayed for him to be delivered, and he was. When he arrived at the home where they were praying, a girl name Rhoda answered the door. "IT'S PETER!!!" (vs. 13-14) she exclaimed. Did the people get excited? No, they did not expect Peter. He's in prison. Peter kept knocking. He probably knocked louder (if I know Peter). Finally, they came and "WERE ASTONISHED" (vs. 16). Perhaps, a more literal translation would have said --"They were dumbfounded." They expected an answer to prayer about as much as many do today. God in His mercy, had answered. Usually, God will wait till we expect Him to answer. Yet, sometimes for new Christians, He will answer even the prayers that are without faith.
We need to realize that there is power in prayer. God hears, God wants to help. The problem is not in powerless prayers, but in faithless prayers, which do not anticipate an answer to be coming. Sometimes, it is dangerous to pray. Elijah had prayed earlier that it rain not. Some time later, while sitting by a brook that was drying up, he probably wondered if he should have prayed that prayer.
Jesus told the disciples:
"FIELDS ARE WHITE UNTO HARVEST, PRAY THAT THE LORD SEND LABORERS INTO THE HARVEST..."
They did pray that prayer. Jesus answered their prayers - He said:
"GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD." They were the chosen answer to their own prayers. You may pray for a loved one to be saved. God may send you to be the witness. You may pray for the church to prosper, and God may ask you to supply part of the answer. You may ask God to help you grow spiritually, and He may send you a great trial to purify you. It can seem dangerous to pray, especially when God answers your prayers. Some have ceased to ask God for specific things in prayer. Sometimes, this is because the answers can bring consternation, and dangerous surprises.
SOME ARE PRAYING AMISS.
James also said in his epistle:
"YE HAVE NOT BECAUSE YE ASK NOT, YE ASK AND YE RECEIVE NOT, BECAUSE YE ASK AMISS."
There are many ways to "ASK AMISS." Sometimes, it is because we ask without earnestness, and without expectation. For some, their prayer lives has bombed out. Some have stopped praying, or lessened their prayers because of lack of results. Some have stopped praying, because God sent the answer in unexpected ways. Some ask for things in greed, and in lust for power or prestige. Some ask for things in a way that lacks love.
Elijah set the pattern that we are to follow. Get earnest, like Elijah. Don't worry about fluency, or beauty in your prayers. Get earnest in your prayer, pray for things that you truly want. If you don't truly want things that are the will of God, get on your knees and repent till you do. Then expect the answers to your prayers. Take your eyes off the problem, and look for the answer to your problem. Elijah didn't look at the dry soil, the withered trees, etc. NO ! He kept sending his servant to the hilltop to look for the cloud of rain.
TOO BUSY TO UTILIZE THIS WEAPON?
Are you too busy to pray? On one of the busiest days of Jesus' life, He began it with prayer.
"IN THE MORNING, RISING UP A GREAT WHILE BEFORE DAY, HE WENT OUT AND WENT TO A LONELY PLACE, AND THERE PRAYED."
Jesus, on this day, was sought by many. He cast out devils, He healed lepers, He healed the sick, He taught for a long time, He finally became so tired that He had to seek a deserted place to rest. He was a busy person, but not too busy to pray. First, on His priority list, was prayer. IF we want to do the works of Christ, as we were told to do, we too must put prayer on the top of our priority list. Don't neglect the good works, but pray first.
...men ought always to pray..."
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit..."
"Continue in prayer..."
I Thessalonians 5:17
"Pray without ceasing."
I Timothy 2:8
"I will therefore that men pray everywhere..."
SOME KNEW HOW TO USE THE WEAPON OF PRAYER.
Moses was a INCESSANT PRAYERAHOLIC.
"Thus I fell down before the Lord 40 days and 40 nights... because the Lord had said He would destroy you..."
Samuel was a PRAYERAHOLIC.
I Samuel 12:23
"As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you."
Anna was an PRAYERAHOLIC.
"She was a widow of about four score and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day..."
We need to learn to use the weapon of prayer in this battlefield. The Lord definitely wants PRAYERAHOLICS.
I Peter 4:7
"The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
PRAYERAHOLICS will not get stuck on one type of prayer. The true prayeraholic will not just give requests. There will also be supplications, praise, thanks, and intercession. As an alcoholic will not just drink one kind of liquor, but will drink whatever is available. True prayeraholics will pray, supplicate, intercede, praise, give thanks, just to keep communing with the Almighty God.
The devil hates this weapon of prayer. It can be used in prison, in a sick bed, while traveling, during a sleepless night, in worship services, at work. The devil hates this flexible praying plan of the Lord. We are never out of touch with our Commander-in-chief. We can summon the power of God wherever we are. The devil hates this weapon, but he also fears this weapon.
There are ways we can increase the effectiveness of our prayers.
PRAYER TEAMS multiply our power
Prayer warriors and intercessors are too much alone. Much of the work of intercessory prayer is private between God and you. There are times when we need a helper.
"If two of you agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Which is in heaven."
Sometimes Jesus would go to be alone and pray. But sometimes, He would ask for others to accompany and pray with Him. We are to be bound together as believers, and we should sometimes seek to be part of a prayer team.
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor." For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together, they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."
We do need each other. Individuals cannot function effectively without deep links to each other. Isolation brings unhealthy and unhappy results. Total isolation is virtually always intolerable.
Many Christians do not get into prayerful relationships with friends or even family. This is sad, and unfortunate. The devil encourages this isolation trap.
The Bible emphasizes the word "koinonia" which means "fellowship." This conveys the idea of sharing, having something in common with another, entering into another's life, assisting another." We must learn to take off our masks of "perfection", "superiority", and "spiritual maturity", and learn to humble ourselves and admit our vulnerability and our need of fellowship.
To be an effective prayer warrior, we need to be able to feel another's hurt to become effective instruments of prayer. To live a life of isolation will make us unable to empathize and effectively intercede.
As you enter into the ministry of being a prayer warrior, you will find that your love has been growing, your sensitivity to the hurts and problems of others is growing. Another benefit of praying as a team is finding that you begin to hear the voice of God more clearly, and more often.
To align yourself with a prayer team, will instigate some true koinonia. It may be a PRAYER CHAIN, or a CLOSE SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP with another prayer warrior. It is ideal when two partners in marriage can develop a prayer ministry together. Simply by sharing the same prayer list, and occasionally praying at the same time, and discussing the needs and hurts of others about whom both are praying will develop a great, and powerful team.
This fellowship of an prayer warrior TEAM will destroy some of the attacks of the devil. The devil seeks to bring us suffering, but fellowship and being part of an prayer team will cause the uplifting of the one against whom the devil has made the attack.
When one of the team fails, the other is there to gently guide, lead, and intercede for the fallen. Many of the rest of Christianity will "shoot the wounded", but the team partner with whom there is humble admission of sins and faults will be able to restore with love and humility.
In the prayer TEAM, there needs to be admission of the need of the other. They should cultivate deep relationships, and commit self to caring and praying about the problems of others without condemnation.
Make a covenant with God to be a prayer warrior. Find others to stand with you for others. Ask these team members to "agree" together for the needs of others. God will abundantly bless the team. "One" will be able to "chase a thousand," but when God finds two who will agree together God will allow them to "chase ten thousand."
Psalm 133:1-2 (KJV)
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT is a powerful weapon
Another way to increase the effectiveness of the weapon of prayer is by prayer in the Spirit.
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with GROANINGS WHICH CANNOT BE UTTERED. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
I Corinthians 14:2, 14
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries... For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful."
Some have falsely believed that when we pray in our prayer language, the devil is unable to understand what we say. This is a false concept. These are the tongues of men and angels. He is a fallen angel, who knows the languages of heaven, and he has been around long enough to know all the languages of earth. In Africa, for instance, some who are baptized into the Spirit, will speak in perfect English. Does the devil not know English in Africa? And if here in this country, when we are baptized into the Spirit, does the devil not know Japanese if that is the language that God gives us with which to pray?
It is not the devil who does not know what is prayed, it is we ourselves. As it says in I Corinthians 14:14, "my understanding is unfruitful." We do not understand what we are praying when we pray "in the Spirit." There are reasons for this. Sometimes, what God wants us to pray about, is not for us to know at this time. You may be praying about an accident that will occur tomorrow, and if you knew about it, you wouldn't get into the car. However, God may be allowing the accident, but the injuries, the damage, and the possibility of fatality may be altered by our weapon of prayer.
There are many such reasons that the Lord may want you to pray in tongues. This is a very vital part of being a prayer warrior. Anyone without this gift of the Spirit will be seriously hampered in their ministry.
Surely, there are many warnings and directions concerning the use of "tongues" and "interpretation" of these tongues. They can be used out of turn in a church service (I Corinthians 14:27). They can profit nothing in a church service if love is not present (I Corinthians 13). Tongues can be done "decently and in order" (I Corinthians 14:40). Paul said that he prayed in tongues more than all of them in Corinth to whom he was speaking (I Corinthians 14:18).
The use of "tongues" in our prayers is for the most part a private use of this gift, outside the church services. We pray privately to God alone, and pray in a language that we do not understand. We do not understand what we are asking, yet the Spirit is giving our spirit this unknown tongue to ask God for things that are His will for us to have. This assures us that God will be answering these prayers.
"So what" - if we do not know what we are praying. We know that whatever it is, it is God's will. We know God hears our prayers when we pray according to His will. And if He hears, He will answer. Prayer is hard, if we do not know how or what to pray. Praying in the Spirit is a perfect and needed resolution of that problem.
When we are tired, sick, confused, unsure of God's will, or having to concentrate on our working or driving, we can pray in the Spirit. Intercession can go on, unhindered, flowing easily. As you pray in the Spirit, your mind is at rest, and your spirit prays unhindered by the limitations of the human mind.
Sometimes there are deep mysteries in our lives. We may wonder, why did God do this? Or, Why did He not do that? Or, Will He ever do this other thing? Praying in the Spirit can give us rest, that even though we do not have answers to all things now. We can still intercede in the Spirit and know we are praying according to His will.
Try it. Speak in tongues and intercede in this manner, as well as in your own language. See if your prayers suddenly have more effectiveness. If your life hasn't changed in a week, then don't keep on! I am certain it will have drastically changed.
The devil hates the weapon of prayer. It is powerful and effective.