Persevering through prayer!
James tells us how to win God’s way in James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
To persevere means: “to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty, to carry on, to hammer away, be determined, to follow through, press on, stand one’s ground, to stay the course!”
After putting on the full armor God has provided for us, we have a role to play in our Christian growth as we persevere to the end of our earthly life. How? By persevering in prayer.
Whatever is plaguing us today in the physical realm is emanating from the spiritual realm. Because we are believers, we are already winning warriors in that realm, however, to walk in that victory, we must address the physical in the spiritual manner. Recall that Paul used the word “against” 5 times in Ephesians 6:10–12. The Christian is against something and something is against the Christian. As believers we are the objects of organized assaults by unseen forces who are in rebellion against our God. Therefore, Paul declares that we must be alert and prepared to fight!
Paul tells us how in Ephesians 6:18: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on, persevering in praying for all saints.” Some form of the word “pray” is used three times in that verse. Paul chooses purposely to emphasize prayer immediately following his instructions on taking up the full armor of God.
For many Christians, prayer is a habit. A habit is something we do repeatedly without any thought. Like praying before we eat, travel, or before we go to bed at night. Habitual praying may begin with “Now I lay me down to sleep” or “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for the food.”
David Jeremiah, after being diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, said this: “I discovered I was helpless without God. Unless we come to that point, often we continue to strive, plan, and connive far too long on our own. We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but Jesus wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but Jesus wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Not out of duty, but a deep realization that we are desperate for Him.” Prayer is not a religious exercise – it is a human necessity. We are all devoured by the need of something outside ourselves, something beyond our own ability, the need to know there is someone to run to, to cry out to, someone who takes notice and acts on our behalf.
Prayer is our earthly permission for heavenly interference or intervention. Prayer is the secret weapon of the kingdom of God. It is like a missile that can be fired toward any spot on earth, travel undetected at the speed of thought and hit its target every time. It can even be armed with a delayed detonation device. Think on this with me. In John 17:20, Jesus said, “I do not pray for these alone but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” His prayer spans the centuries and embraces all of us who do believe and all who will ever believe. The prayer of Jesus is still being answered 2,000 years later. Satan has no defense against this weapon; he simply does not have an anti-prayer missile.
Jesus himself is our tutor and example in all things. Prayer undergirded, preceded and empowered everything that Jesus did while He walked on this earth. Furthermore, Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach. He only taught them how to pray and that they must persevere in prayer!
There are some things God will do if we ask Him. And then there are some things that He will NOT do if we do not ask Him. For example, in the healing miracles recorded in the gospels, Jesus rarely took the initiative. He waited to be asked. So, what does this mean for us in spiritual warfare? I believe this: we must persevere in prayer asking Jesus to interfere or intervene on our behalf, knowing He is simply waiting to be asked by us.
You may be thinking, “Well, if God knows what I need, why do I need to ask Him? Surely He knows He has my permission to work or fight on my behalf!” When God created the heavens and the earth and placed mankind on it, He said, “You shall rule.” In establishing His divine order, God chose to give mankind rulership over the earth. In doing so, He has done two things. First, He has given mankind the option of choosing or leaving Him out. Secondly, He has given mankind the option of stepping out on our own in this endeavor or asking God to join us and lead us in the rulership of our lives. Get it? When we go to God and ask for His divine intervention based on His Word, the Truth, His promises, and His character, He lovingly and willingly responds to our acknowledging our desperate need for Him. We have the option of leaving God out or inviting Him into every situation and watching Him work miracles in our lives. That happens through persevering in prayer!
The Secret of Prayer
Psalm 25:14 says, “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him and He will make them know His covenants.” John 15:7 reveals the secret: “If you abide, remain, in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be given to you.” In John 16:14 reveals the deeper secret: “The Holy Spirit will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you.”
When God reveals His secrets – His ways and His promises – to us in His Word, the most effective way for us to pray is to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and throw the words right back to God. If you and I do not memorize and internalize the Word of God into our hearts and our minds, our prayers will be empty and vague and full of things God never promised. The foundation of prayer is knowing what God has already said and then proclaiming it (out loud) in the midst of our warfare!
In chapter 5:17, James calls Elijah, the prophet of God, “a man just like us.” When Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain,it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Later, Elijah called on God to intervene and bring rain. I call that persevering in prayer big time! I Kings 18 gives us the detailed account that is so revealing about how God intervenes when we pray. In I Kings 18:1, Elijah got a rhema (remember, this is a direct word from God to him) to go show himself to Ahab. After Elijah did this, God said He would bring rain. At the end of the chapter, we read in verse 44 that after the seventh time that he asked his servant to go back and check for rain, he reported “a cloud as small as a man’s hand rose from the sea.” Our lesson from Elijah? When God said it would rain, Elijah believed God’s word and prayed it back to Him. Even though God had declared the word in the heavenlies and to Elijah, it did not occur for 3 years and six months. Scripture tells us that Elijah positioned himself in a posture of travail – not merely bowing his head with eyes shut. He got down on his knees with his face to the ground. What we see from Elijah is this: prayer should be predicated on what God has already declared He will do. In order to do this effectively, you and I need to study God’s Word (graphe) understand His message (logos) and become intimate enough to hear His utterance to us (rhema). Let’s agree to shout out to Him this battle cry and sound the shofar with these words: “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13. Notice Jesus does not say “I will help you do it.” He says “I will do it.”
MY WAR ZONE:
A sense of feeling overwhelmed (which means to cover over with a dark cloud that cannot be seen through) describes me at times. Especially when I am engaged in warfare and I do not see God at work. In these times, the Spirit of God prompts me to respond with the rhema God gave me from Psalm 61:2 – “Hear my cry O God. Attend to my prayer. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 62:8 – “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him. He is our refuge.”
Several years ago my man and I went to a rock quarry and found the biggest rock we could to put in the flower bed near my back porch. It is my rock place and I go there when my heart is overwhelmed. I pour out my fear and struggles to God and I wait for Him to give me a rhema. I persevere in prayer until a word from Him comes. I can testify that I walk away every single time with a lightened heart!
- What has God spoken to you, rhema, through this lesson on prayer?
- Have you also been guilty of praying habitually instead of specifically? How do you prevent this?
- What verse or verses have you learned to “stand on” or “throw back” at God during times of warfare?
- How has God brought you to the place where you can honestly pray: “Thy will be done?”
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