December 4, 2016 - Prayer Warriors
Who is God?
God is the creator and sustainer of all that is. He is ONE God, who has three parts: Father, Son and Spirit. That may sound confusing but think of it this way: You have one body that has different parts. Your body is like God the Father. You have a voice that speaks words to send a message beyond the limits of your body. That would be like Jesus; he carried God’s word to us and is actually called the “Word made flesh” (John 1:1). You can blow out a breath from your body to extinguish a candle or blow a leaf that you are not actually touching. That is like the spirit of God, who is also called the Holy Spirit. The Spirit inspires us, moves our hearts to action, and guides us in God’s path when we are unsure.
God made the world and everything in it through Jesus Christ his son, who was there at the beginning of time when the foundations of the Earth were laid. You can read about the beginning of the world in Genesis, chapter 1 with more information in the first Chapter of the gospel of John. The spirit was given as a gift to believers; you can read more about that in the Book of Acts, chapters 1 and 2.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is talking to God, but even more than that. We talk to people all day, whether on the phone, at school or work, in a carpool, or just via texts and face book. While talking to other people is great, God wants us to intentionally take time to speak directly with him. To share the events of our day, our hopes, our fears; to laugh and cry and to even ask him for help to live a fuller, wiser life by knowing and following his directions.
Should we set aside times to pray?
Yes, most definitely! Our days can get busy and without a plan to do something, that item often gets missed. Just like you would plan time for a special dinner, or medical appointment, you should plan time to communicate with God every day. In part, planning a daily time to talk with God has much to do with motivation. Getting something moving is more difficult than keeping it moving. Simply put (thanks to Isaac Newton), something in motion tends to stay in motion.
On the negative side, however, being in motion or continually occupied can be the reason we procrastinate on starting regular prayer time or why we leave only scraps of time to offer God as the night falls and our sleepy eyes close. However, once we find that impetus or spark to ignite us to begin prayer, then the joy of fellowship with our creator has an energy or momentum all its own. That momentum, that connection, can draw us back again and again, if we do not refuse it.
Refuse the connection to God you say? Why would someone refuse divine joy? Divine peace? Divine guidance? Divine intervention in our lives? Because sometimes we see our life as big and our God as small. When that happens, our small God is no longer our sustainer and guide, no longer infinite power and love, but just a recurring obligation that is easily overshadowed by the activities and cares of this world.
When should we pray?
The Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). In other words, we should pray, or talk to God all the time. Pray in the car? Yes. While walking the dog? Yes. While watching a movie? Yes. On our knees? Yes. While giving a speech? Yes. While singing in the shower? Yes.
How can we pray at all these times? Easier than you think. You see, all that we say, think and do are expressions of our thoughts (and heart) and therefore a form of communication. As we go through our day doing all that we do, we are communicating, but not all of it is intentional. God asks us to have time to intentionally talk with him. God anticipates hearing from us and in fact, does miss us when we stay silent.
I once wondered why people prayed before eating. The basic assumption is that mealtime prayer is offered to show we are thankful for our food. However, I think praying before meals goes deeper than that. I think it is like a hard stop in a busy day to say, “Whoa. Let me think about what is really important, not just this delicious food tantalizing my first cranial nerve…Oh right, God is important, let me say hello to him and count my general blessings and say ‘thank you’.” Once I came at meal time prayer with this thought, my prayers changed. I must admit, I often get so deep in thinking about God’s provisions at meals, thinking about the splendid things God has done, that I have often forgot to pray for the actual meal (much to this dismay of my children). I trust God knows my heart even if others roll their eyes as I say Amen, and the food itself has been left off the current list of my thankfulness.
God goes one step further when we pray: He not only listens, He acts on our behalf, out of love for us.
While earthly friends may have our backs, God has our fronts, our backs and everything in between. Moreover, while our friends can only console us when things go wrong, God can do more. He speaks things into existence. What does that mean? It means simply what it says: God speaks and things happen. What things? All things.
God spoke the world into existence (see Book of Genesis, Chapter 1). Just because the earth was completed in its initial creation, that did not stop God from continuing to create. He is active in creating new people, new circumstances, new opportunities. Healing happens, protection is provided, sins are forgiven, a way is made in the darkness and hope is restored, all through the grace and power of God. You see, when God spoke the world into existence that was just the beginning.
Pray with Purpose
We pray in order to stay connected to God, to learn his will for us, to share his joys and our sorrows but also to protect us from the evil one. Yes, just as God is good, the absence of God is evil. An example of this is simple: If we stand under a light, the area is light. If we are in a dark room, then there is an absence of light, that absence of light, or God (goodness) is called evil.
There is a being that imbibes the core of evil. He does not bend his will to God, but wishes for his own glorification and power. This evil is arrogant and wants to be God, to receive praise for himself, to be in control of everything, even that which he did not make nor sustains. He is known by many names amongst many peoples, but in English he is known most often as: Lucifer, Satan, Prince of Darkness, the Deceiver, or the Devil. His goal is to strike at God in any way possible. The Devil is not stronger than God, but he knows that God loves us. Because we are special to God, the Devil will strike at us in any way possible, in an attempt to hurt God.
We are told: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV). While the devil is formidable, know that he is NOT stronger that God. The Bible reminds us: “My dear children, you belong to God and have defeated them; because God’s Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world, “(1 John 4:4, NCV).
Why is prayer called a weapon?
When we pray, God not only listens, he intervenes. God’s intervention will change the course of events in some way which is why prayer is called a weapon. We do not manipulate God through prayer, but he allows us to participate in his plans when we pray. God’s greatest wish is to draw us closer to him. He hears every prayer, even if he does not grant exactly what we ask for. When prayers and praise are offered by one who desires to know God’s heart and follow his will no matter what, those prayers have great power. Those prayers are a weapon, wielded by a warrior’s hand as an offering to God in faith. Amazing things WILL happen.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is a book of God’s messages to us. Written mostly in stories, letters and poems, it records the interactions between God and his people since the creation of the world. While the stories and the teaching unfold, God proves his love again and again as well as his divine protection of those who call on Him. It is one way that God shows us his love and care and also a way he answers us when we pray.
Getting Started on Our Relationship with Our Creator
This is where the adventure begins for those who answer the call. What call? The call to go deeper, to learn more about God, to reach beyond time and space in a conversation with your creator, savior, lover of your soul. To take prayer seriously and to follow the command to “pray without ceasing”. To ask God to change us and change our world. Pray, pray and pray as God molds you into the warrior you will become as his power flows around you, in you and through you.
Ready? You are about to step into the unknown. You are about to be changed: to be humbled, to be molded, to be an intercessor and to wield the weapon of prayer; a weapon so strong and so sure that it will be impossible to remain who you are at this moment. The quiet life you knew will be gone. The safety of standing in the shadows? No more will the shadows hide you. For what is done in secret God sees in the open (Mark 4:22). Afraid? Have no fear (Isaiah 43: 1). God is with you even to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28: 20b).
God bids you, “Come!” The adventure begins here. Enter the Prayer Warrior’s Gate. Come to the Father, in prayer through Jesus Christ His son. Those brave enough to take the first step, are invited to talk to God and be changed; to learn something new about God and likely something new about themselves.
Each week, there will be scripture readings and some shared thoughts to help us go deeper in our relationship with God and to help our church and community go deeper as well. Know that others in this army are joining their heart, minds, voices and intersessions together with you. Then watch what happens, because prayers come with promises. A few examples are listed below:
“If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV).
“…This is what the Lord, the God of your father David says: I have heard your prayers and seen your tears; I will heal you.” 2 Kings, 20:5a (NIV).
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
Ready? Welcome Warrior! May God richly bless you for this endeavor and place a shield of protection around you. May you seek him all of your days. May you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength and all your mind. Luke 10:27a (NIV).