Thrilled or Chilled? Week 5
"The Weapon of Prayer"
We can look back to great Christian leaders of the past and speculate on how they did great things for God. Ultimately, we understand that it was God that did the work through them, but we find ourselves wondering why these great things do not happen to us. Now to be fair, it’s foolish to say that we can narrow down one process that these men followed to make such a great impact. I’m sure that there are many differences in how they served God. However, through my years of hearing stories of these wonderful Christians like George Muller, Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, just to name a few from recent centuries, I have noticed that they share a few things in common. One which always makes its way to the list is prayer. These men spent time with God. When you study their personal habits, you find that they all prayed differently, but made it priority. Furthermore, most of these Christians had trouble doing so. It’s been said that Spurgeon would become so discouraged that he would have to retreat for weeks on end, finding time to pray. Muller said of himself that when we first made prayer a priority, that he had trouble even getting his mind focused. He spent almost ten years battling this issue. Many of these men had their spiritual concerns or issues, but they can point to a time in their life where they realized prayer was important and made it happen.
Read Philippians 4:6, James 5:16, Ephesians 6:18. Question Christians: do we pray like we should? Do we view prayer as a priority, or just something to get around to doing? Do we miss it when we cannot find the time? If we are going to battle Satan effectively, we must learn to pray. I’m afraid that we live in such a fast paced world full of entertainment and pleasure that it causes us to forget prayer. If we are going to live the way God wants us to with a “thrilled” attitude, we must pray. We must get alone with God each day.
In a recent lesson, we talked about the armor of God. We defined each piece and talked of how it affects the daily battle we face. (Read Eph. 6:17-18). The last two things this passage mentions are what I would consider our weapons. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer. Without these two things in our lives, we cannot fight the devil. The armor described in the first part of this passage is defensive in nature. These last two are what get you into the fight. A soldier, complete with all of his body armor, is useless if he does not have a weapon to fight with. Even Jesus, while here on earth, used these two weapons. He knew the importance of knowing scripture and praying. He would often times depart alone to pray. After you get the armor secure, it’s time to start fighting the daily fight. We do this by growing in our Christian life.
Have you ever noticed how a little child behaves in a toy store? Each time me and my wife visit somewhere that sells toys, my son always wants to go to the toy isle. He’s not going to “just look”, though that’s what we tell him we are doing; he’s going to scout. You see he is to the age now where he knows when his birthday is. Because of this, he scouts out what stuff he wants us to buy him for his birthday. One thing he doesn’t understand yet is how money works and by the end of our visit, he has dozens of things picked out that he wants us to get him for his birthday. Next time you see a child acting this way in a toy store, remember your prayer relationship with God. You see, that small child is not stopping to consider if his parents have the fiscal space in the budget for toys. He is not considering whether his parents will or will not buy him a birthday present. He simply has faith that his father will answer his requests. He may know that he won’t get everything he sees, but he knows that when his birthday comes, he will get something. Now let’s not get the idea as adults that we can ask God for every cool thing we see, as a child might; but is there something you want on a daily basis? As a husband or wife, do you want to have a good relationship and not allow the devil to interfere? As a father or mother, do you want those children to be saved, love the Lord, and stay away from sin? As a single person, do you want your future to be filled with the things that God wants for you, and not what the Devil can come up with? Then as God’s children, why are we not battling each day in prayer? Why do we not act like that kid in the toy store when it comes to our daily lives? It seems as if we go to battle daily without ever considering asking God to help us make right choices and guide our steps, yet become discouraged and confused when we get defeated. We have to start spending time asking Christ for help!
If we are going to grow in our prayer life, we must understand what the Bible says about prayer. God’s word is filled with many verses on prayer and many stories about people who prayed, including Christ while He was here on earth. But for today’s lesson, let’s look at three areas of prayer that affect our daily walk with God.
Fellowship prayer. Read Nehemiah 1:3-4, Mark 6:45-46, Matthew 6:6. Many pastors, Bible scholars, and church leaders have their opinions on where to pray, how to pray, and how long to pray. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: God wants to hear from you in prayer. All of us have different schedules and different preferences, but all of us should be spending time alone with God. This is that time for you to praise Him for who He is, thank Him for the things that He has done for you, and bring your requests to Him, knowing that He hears. This is the fellowship time. Every close relationship needs that time to connect with each other. God is no different. (read James 4:8). This time should be that personal time with God. It doesn’t really matter where it happens, just that it does. If we are going to daily fight the devil, we must have a strong relationship with the one who can do anything! Do we spend time each day with God, or is it rare that we actually pray? Do we have a detailed prayer list that helps us remember the needs of those around us? We write down reminders for ourselves about almost everything in our life, shouldn’t we do the same for prayer? We have got to find the time to pray.
Instant prayer. Read I Thessalonians 5:17, Jeremiah 33:3, Nehemiah 2:2-5. As Christians, we should always be in communication with God. Nehemiah is an awesome example. In the last paragraph, we saw him spend time in prayer with God, begging Him to work within his people. In chapter 2, we see that “instant pray” take place. God describes himself in Psalms as an “ever present help in time of trouble”. We should be utilizing this amazing blessing. Do you ever have trouble responding the right way to daily problems? When you get a call about an issue, do you hang up and ask for God’s help in a five second prayer, or begin to complain and worry? When a choice must be made quickly and you’re unsure, do we go to God for clarity and strength, or do we figure things out ourselves and hope for the best? David, all through psalms, cried out to God for daily help. While the disciples walked with Christ, they constantly were asking Jesus for guidance. The amazing thing about the Holy Spirit is that we can do the same as the disciples did. If we need guidance, help, or strength, pray. As you think of the needs and problems of others or yourself, pray for them. Don’t catch yourself dealing with the problems of the day without communicating with God through the Holy Spirit. (Read Galatians 5:16)
Unknown prayer. Read Romans 8:26-29. Do you ever not know what to pray? Maybe you are a new Christian and not quite sure how to say the right things. Maybe you are going through a tough time and can’t really put it into words. It’s amazing to know, based on Romans 8:26, that the Holy Spirit is playing "go between" for us to God. He knows what is on your heart and he makes that intercession for us to God. When we don't know what to say, He does. When we are hurt and don’t know how to fix it, we can simply tell God how we are feeling, and the Holy Spirit does the work. Any close relationship has that unspoken communication and God is no different. If you don’t know exactly what to say to God, don’t shy away from praying, go to Him and just talk to Him. He knows your heart. If you have that deep despair or concern and don’t know what to do, go to God. He will hear you, even though you may not ask Him for any specific thing. Your commander in the battle sees your every move and knows how to help. Talk to Him.
Prayer is so important, yet so neglected. I have often said that if you could narrow down one issue in modern Christianity, it would be prayerlessness. Let’s change that trend. Let's make the time to pray. Let’s stay in communication with Him. Let’s pray when we don’t know what to pray, knowing that He knows. Let’s pick up the weapon of prayer and defeat Satan. "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees." - William Cowper
Spend the rest of the time taking prayer requests and asking God to help us find the time to pray. Lets make prayer a priority!