Dave Acree is the EFCC’s Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This regular column on prayer is designed to accompany the Prayer Calendar.
We “peaceful” Canadians sometimes find it awkward to look at life through the lens of warfare. We see ourselves more as peacekeepers than warmongers. Yet when speaking of prayer, scripture injects it into two theatres of war. Perhaps we should embrace rather than shun the metaphor.
“For our struggle 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. Therefore, put on the full armor of God . . . . 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.” (see Ephesians 6:10-18)
War Theatre #1 puts prayer into perspective. In prayer we enter the battle between God and the forces of evil. This unseen reality can drive us in many directions, from fearful to skeptical to watchful, but ignoring it should not be an option.
The armor we are encouraged to “put on” suggests some of the areas for this type of warfare praying: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation. The hard part is moving from abstract ideas to real life specifics in our lives and churches.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (see James 4:1-4)
War Theatre #2 makes prayer personal. While the first battle is unseen, this one is internal. It is between wanting God’s things or ours, between asking with God and others in mind or just us, between selfishness and generosity.
All warfare is tough and painful. How bloody are your knees?!