“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
Last week I began a short series of articles on principles of ministry. In that first article I talked about the first principle of ministry, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you’re at.” That principle recognizes that God will take whatever we surrender to Him, bless it, and multiply it to meet the need. This week I want to give you a second principle- prayer is the battle.
The verse from Ephesians that I quoted above reminds us that we are in the midst of a great spiritual battle. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil. I think that often we want to reduce our battle to the level of flesh and blood. For instance, we want to make our battle against other Christians (i.e. denominations or factions within our own denomination), or against a political party, or even against the lost. But our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual hosts lead by Satan himself. Therefore we must fight with the spiritual weaponry that God has given us. Paul goes on in Ephesians 6:13-17 to list the defensive armor the Christian is to wear into battle. Each of these pieces of armor is important and every Christian needs to understand them. But this week I have a different focus that I want to bring out. I want to focus on verses 17-18 where Paul talks about the offensive weapon the Christian weilds.
In Ephesians 6:17 and 18 Paul gives us our only weapon- the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit. In other words, the battle we fight we fight with the word of God. But notice that verse 18 tells gives us the sphere in which we weild this sword, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” In other words, Paul is saying that “prayer is the battle.”
Over the last three weeks our church has been actively involved in ministering to our community and we have seen the power of servant style evangelism. But Satan is not afraid of a ministering church. He knows that ministry can quickly become an opiate for the church, numbing them to the pressing lostness that surrounds them. Ministry done for ministry’s sake is actually a hindrance to the gospel. But when ministry is combined with prayer something amazing begins to happen. Satan trembles when he sees a church that is both praying and ministering. Why? Because he knows that prayer is the battle.
Prayer is the means by which the church acquires the Spiritual power to carry out it’s ministry for the glory of God. Prayer is the means by which a small ember may be fanned into a flaming fire. There is an old story that says on day Thomas Aquinas, the famous Catholic theologian, was walking with a student through the magnificent buildings which make up the Vatican complex. The student said to Aquinas, “Look, Master, no longer can the church say to the lame man, silver and gold have I none.” Aquinas replied, “Yes, but neither can it say, rise and walk!” The church cannot rely on its tremendous material and human resources. This is a spiritual battle we are in. We must fight the battle on our knees. Praying with all of our might for God to turn back the forces of evil in our community.
You can join us in this battle. Begin daily setting aside time to pray. Begin coming to Wednesday night prayer meeting (which we have recently changed to become and actual prayer meeting). Get a friend or two to form a pray partnership or triplet and start praying together. Prayer is the battle, beloved. If we want to see our community come to Christ then we must pray until God moves.