“Fighting the Good Fight”
The Conflict of Prayer – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 18)
There are many aspects to prayer, worship, adoration, praise, thanksgiving and intercession. There are two things that prayer most certainly is not. It is not preaching and it is not for the correcting of others. I have heard people using prayer to both these ends, this is a great evil and must not be tolerated. But, prayer is warfare. It could be said that this is the very epicentre of the battle, where it is won and lost. Our praying should be uttered in a way that all can understand and all can say a whole-hearted amen to at the close (this, of course, excludes what people call praying in tongues). If we are taking part in a prayer meeting we should stand and speak clearly and loudly so all can hear what is said. The early church gave itself to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1ff). If any of them were persecuted they would pray for them. When they prayed stuff happened, society was shaken, prison walls were breached, lives were changed. In the Old Testament, we have the example of the battle ebbing and flowing as Moses prayed in direct proportion to the direct support given (Exodus 17:8-13). This surely emphasises the importance of our attendance at the church prayer meeting. The Lord Jesus sees the needs of the people and he bids his disciples pray, “this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). Whatever the need or the situation we are instructed to take it to the Lord in prayer. Because we are always on a war footing and so our eyes and hearts need to be focussed upon the Captain of our salvation.
We have this privilege, we go to him, wait upon him in confidence. But we do so prepared to obey his orders whatever they may be. We are told here to pray “with all prayer and supplication” (v18). With all kinds of prayers, that is. It doesn’t always have to formal, but simply speaking to God in general terms as go through our day. This is the means by which our relationship, our friendship with the Lord is established and maintained in freshness. It is vital. This is the Christian’s life. Where there is no prayer there is no life. We can be on the move, walking, driving etc. We may be sitting, kneeling, the posture isn’t the most important aspect of praying. We could very simply call chatting to God as we go about our daily chores. Supplication is getting down to specifics. If we are going to pray about world affairs we need to make it our business to know about world affairs. The needs of people near and far. People in our own families, churches, our Minister. Then the needs of missionaries that we have a particular responsibility for and others the world over. There is no place in this Christian warfare for a cosy, self-centred isolation. We are in this fight together, all the Lord’s people. Prayer is work, it is hard work, it takes effort. We need to remain alert. It is so easy to fall asleep at the wheel. Satan would rather rock you to sleep than come at you in a direct confrontational way. You know the penalty a soldier pays for falling asleep on duty? “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” (Ephesians 6:18).