One of the greatest ways we engage in the spiritual battle for the Kingdom of God is through prayer. There are a lot of things we do or have done at Providence that are good, Christ-exalting activities, but nothing engages the kingdom of darkness in this world like prayer does. It’s easy to forget that the world in which we live is the battleground between God and the devil and his angels. Satan wants nothing more than for us to focus on smaller kingdom things like just growing our church, or being a nice neighbor, or even attending a good Bible study. All those things are well and good, but they are small. They aren’t kingdom of darkness piercing activities. It’s easy to get distracted by politics, or our career, or by video games and entertainment, or even our own troubles and tribulations. The enemy doesn’t care how we are distracted from the battle, they just don’t want us engaging in world-changing stuff…like prayer.
Jesus’ vision for the church has always been that it would be a force that would engage the darkness of this world and overtake it with the gospel, in the spirit of love, and through the power of prayer and obedience. His words in Matthew 16:18 ring out reminding us of this truth when Jesus tells us that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. Gates were always used as a defensive measure for a city or kingdom. This means that Jesus expects us, His church, to be an offensive force against the kingdom of darkness in this world.
I don’t know about you, but most of my church experience has been a “let’s not lose too much ground to the enemy” kind of thing. Today begins a great battle for our church. Today we engage the enemy because prayer is really all about the power of God. When you and I pray, we are essentially saying, “God, I can’t do this. We can’t do this. We need
you to show up and move like you have done in the past.” Our labor in prayer really shows our depth of faith in God. We can say we believe that God can do great things, but prayer is the evidence of that faith. So far this year as we’ve prepared to launch Gospel Life Church, we’ve raised money, some have volunteered to go help start it, and we’ve made a general commitment to help. Now is the time though, when we cry out to God to be faithful to His promise to “build His church”. Now is the time to see mountains moved.
As we engage the enemy in prayer, there is the very real likelihood that you and your family will come under spiritual attack. I don’t say that to frighten you, but to call you to resolve not to stop when you do. We have no reason to fear though because we know that Christ has won the victory for His kingdom through the cross (see Colossians 2:13-15). 1 John 4:4 aptly says that greater is the One who is in you, than he who is in the world. The heat may be turned up in your life over the next 40 days, but so will God’s power and grace.
I want to end with a passage of Scripture that Paul writes as he concludes his letter to the Ephesians. We all may be familiar with parts of this letter as it talks about the armor of God, but look how Paul ends that section in vs. 18. I’ve highlighted it for special emphasis. Here’s what it says:
Ephesians 6:10-18 - Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil’s evil plans. 12 Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.
13 So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing.
14 So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. 15 Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the gospel of peace. 16 Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Put on the helmet of salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Spirit. The sword is God’s word.
18 At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God’s people.