"PRAYER THE DECIDING FACTOR"
I. WE ARE ENGAGED IN A SPIRITUAL WAR.
A. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places.
1. Principalities and powers are rankings in the angelic world. such as captains and lieutenants.
a. In Paul's letter to the church in Rome he said that he was persuaded that neither height, nor depth, nor principalities nor powers nor any other created being was able to separate us from the love of God which was in Christ Jesus.
b. Back in chapter one of this epistle he spoke of Christ being seated in the heavenlies far above all principality and power.
c. In Colossians 1:16
Paul speaks of Jesus Christ as the Creator of all things that are in heaven and earth, things that are visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him.
2. These principalities and powers are the spirit entities that are warring against your soul.
B. There are two kingdoms in the world today, the Kingdom of God which is the kingdom of light and life, and the kingdom of Satan, which is the kingdom of death and darkness.
1. These two kingdoms are in opposition to each other.
2. All men are ruled by one or the other of these two kingdoms.
3. Today if you are not living in the kingdom of God you are in the kingdom of darkness.
4. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters, you cannot serve God and Mammon." It is one or the other.
C. The control of your mind is the thrust of the battle.
1. Paul wrote to the Galatians that our flesh lusts against our spirit and our spirit against our flesh, and that these two are contrary to each other.
2. If I am ruled by my flesh then my mind will be occupied with the things of the flesh.
3. If I am ruled by the spirit, then my mind will be on spiritual things.
4. Paul wrote to the Romans that the mind of the flesh was death but the mind of the Spirit was life and peace.
5. Paul tells the Ephesians that they need to put on the helmet of salvation. They needed to protect their minds from debasing thoughts that Satan would seek to plant in them.
D. Because it is a spiritual war it must be fought with spiritual weapons.
1. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, that is, fleshly, but they are mighty through God whereby we can pull down the strongholds of the enemy.
2. The enemy has a very strong hold on some of your friends.
a. He has blinded their eyes to the truth so that they do not have good judgment.
b. He has so prejudiced them against Jesus Christ that they cannot even talk about the subject rationally.
c. He is destroying them, but they are not even aware of it.
d. They are swiftly moving toward destruction and they do not even realize it.
e. Maybe that is even true about you.
f. Paul wrote that the God of this world has blinded their eyes that they cannot see the truth.
3. We dare not go into this battle unprepared. It is necessary to put on the whole armor of God that we might be able to stand against the onslaught of the enemy.
E. As we look at the spiritual armor, we immediately notice that for the most part, it is defensive.
1. The helmet, the shield, the breastplate are all intended to defend you from the attacks of the enemy.
2. It is noteworthy that there is no armor for your backside. The Lord never intended for us to try to run from the battle. Paul is exhorting them to stand.
F. There are two offensive weapons in our arsenal.
1. "The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
2. "Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, let your requests be made known unto God."
G. There is a very unique aspect to this battle, that is, Satan has already lost the battle. The deciding decisive battle has already been fought and won by Jesus Christ. Satan is a defeated foe.
1. Paul wrote to the Colossians that Jesus had defeated those principalities and powers which were against us, having triumphed over them and making an open display of His victory on the cross.
2. We read in the book of Revelation concerning the future, during the great tribulation that when the saints will be contending against Satan, that they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
3. Jesus has paid the price to redeem the world, He is the rightful king.
a. In Hebrews we read that God has put all things under His feet, but we do not yet see all things under Him.
4. Satan is doing his best by the dent of force to hang on to that which is no longer rightfully his. Even as when king Saul was rejected by God to be the king over Israel, and the prophet had anointed David as the king, Saul did his best to hang on to the throne and drive David from the kingdom.
II. THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYER ARE THE DECIDING FACTORS IN THIS SPIRITUAL BATTLE.
A. Jesus responded to every attack of Satan against Him with scripture.
B. Before the great and deciding battle of good against evil, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene praying until His sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. That is what is known as agonizing in prayer.
C. If you were suddenly accosted by an assailant and you were in a life and death struggle with him when suddenly he pulled a knife, immediately all of the attention of the struggle would be centered on the knife for you realize that the knife can be the deciding factor in this battle.
1. So it is with Satan, knowing that prayer is the deciding factor in this war, he seeks by all within his power to disarm you.
2. He will seek to divert you to other methods of battle against him.
3. I sometimes think that he even helps organize marches and demonstrations for certain good causes.
4. It is of interest to note that that night not only was Jesus facing a great spiritual battle, but Peter was also to face a great spiritual battle. Peter however was sleeping instead of praying. When Jesus came back to where Peter had been positioned, he said, "Peter, are you asleep? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation." Jesus won His battle, but Peter lost his.
D. We can do far more for a person's salvation by praying for them than we can by arguing with them.
1. Many times an argument will only make them angry with you especially if you begin to win the argument.
2. You are right there, they know exactly where the attack is coming from, and they will do all within their power to repel you.
3. By using prayer, it is like using heavy artillery, they are being blasted, but they don't know where it is coming from. Their life seems to be falling apart, and they do not know why.
4. Paul said that in using the spiritual weapons in this warfare we pull down the strongholds of the enemy.
E. Note that Paul exhorts, "Praying always."
1. Jesus certainly set the example for that.
a. When He was baptized, "As He was praying the Holy Spirit descended upon Him."
b. He spent the night in prayer before choosing the 12 Apostles.
c. Of course before the cross.
d. His prayers were spontaneous, to Him it was as natural as breathing.
2. Jesus taught, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
a. In Philippians 4:6
Paul exhorts that in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be known unto God.
b. To the Thessalonians he said, "Pray without ceasing."
c. To Timothy he wrote, "Without ceasing I remember you in my prayers, day and night." 2 Ti 1:3
3. Note that Paul also uses the word supplication. Which is strong and incessant pleading.
4. In the text Paul speaks also of perseverance.
5. Don't make prayer your last resort, but your first resort. If you will make prayer is your first resort, you will never come to the last resort.