Spiritual Warfare 101.1: When persistent prayer gets rough
Paying attention to context is important when reading any book, particularly the Bible. A single verse is certainly meaningful on its own, but considering it within the framework of the verses around it can lead to additional insights.
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 praying for all the Lord’s people.
Interestingly, the verses preceding this (Eph. 6:10–17) deal with the armor of God. The implication here is that prayer goes beyond conversation with our heavenly Father. It is engagement in battle, a battle that is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
This is especially true in regards to intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer simply means praying for others – family, friends, performers, politicians, ministry professionals, and anyone else the Lord may guide you to pray for.
Just as soldiers face an enemy who wants to prevent them from accomplishing their military objectives, we have an enemy who wants to prevent us from regular, persistent intercession. The weapons he uses are subtle, but they can be very effective if you are not familiar with his tactics.
I’m not talking about things like cell phones, TV, or the myriad other technological distractions that may draw us away from prayer. The enemy’s approach here is a bit more personal. Discouragement, doubt, depression – the feeling that your prayers are not making a difference, that they do not matter and are a waste of time and energy.
Anyone who is persistent in praying for God to move on behalf of a person, a nation, or an industry will likely experience these emotions, especially if it takes a long time for them to see their prayers answered. Feeling like this is not pleasant, and it can be tempting to give up.
So what do you do when you come up against this weapon of the enemy?
First: Remember that it is a weapon. And the enemy won’t bother using his weapons unless the soldier is a threat.
You can take comfort and find encouragement in the knowledge that your prayers do matter and they are making a difference. If they weren’t, the enemy wouldn’t be trying to make you throw in the towel.
Second: Remember that you are not unarmed. God has given you your own protective gear and weapons.
They are as follows:
- The belt of truth (Eph. 6:14).
- The breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14).
- Feet fitted with … the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15).
- The shield of faith (Eph. 6:16).
- The helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17).
- The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).
Third: Fight back.
Satan has already been defeated through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. If you have accepted Christ’s death on the cross as payment for your sins, you have won the ultimate victory over the enemy.
Though the war itself is won, there are still plenty of battles until the great cease-fire is called at the end of time (Rev. 20:7–10). In these battles, we can choose to let the enemy walk all over us, discouraging and oppressing us, or we can use our weapons well and send him scampering (James 4:7).
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
– Teresa Santoski
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