Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Christian Predator Drone
To begin our final look at the armor and weaponry of God for the Christian let?s turn not to Ephesians but to Mark?s gospel:
Mark 1:35 ?Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions went searching for Him. 37 They found Him and said, ?Everyone?s looking for You!??
There are a lot of things going on in these two verses. Notice that the disciples were all about responding to demands. They suggested that Jesus should have been doing something different, and that He wasn?t in the right place. But in fact, Jesus was doing exactly what He needed to be doing where he needed to do it?and that was alone in prayer to the Father.
We think of Jesus as a very independent person. He knew everything and could do anything so He didn?t need anything. In fact, when Jesus shed His divinity to walk the earth He became very dependent on the Holy Spirit and the Father to guide Him. And so Jesus spent an inordinate amount of time in prayer. Here in Mark is just one example.
One guy counted at least 37 different instances where Jesus prayed (see this page). And when He wasn?t praying, He was often talking about prayer. Even now with Jesus back in heaven, He is still praying.
Hebrews 7:25 ?Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.?
Jesus knew, talked about, and experienced the power of prayer in His life every day. And as Paul concludes his encouragement about putting on the full armor of God, he talks about, as the last and perhaps the most powerful and crucial element?prayer.
As the sword of the Spirit is the close-in weapon for the soldier of God, prayer is the long-range weapon. Think of it as the artillery battery that softens up the battlefield prior to the troops going in. In the Roman soldier analogy, it could be like the javelin, which the soldier threw into to the enemy formation to disrupt them prior to charging in. Another way to think about it is like a Predator Drone, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that you guide from a bunker in Colorado but goes in unnoticed and wipes out the enemy, or gets intelligence about the enemy?s whereabouts or movements.
Prayer is what we do before we attack, and sometimes in the midst of it.
I think about Nehemiah, who was King Artaxerxes? cupbearer. At the beginning of the book, Nehemiah hears about the plight of his brothers and sisters back in Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity. He then sits down and prays a long petition before God for restoration. Then he appears before the king and tells the king that he is sad over what?s happening back in Judah. When the king asks ?What is your request?? Nehemiah ?prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king.? Praying before you go into battle gives you time to consider carefully what goals God might have in the skirmish. But prayer in the midst of the battle is good too, especially as the battle changes in the fog of war. Sometimes a quick prayer is all we have time for!
In many ways, Nehemiah?s experience mirrors what Paul is telling his Ephesian friends.
You may not feel like you are an active participant in the battle against the forces of darkness. But Paul told us back in verse 14 to ?stand? ? and maybe your part in this war right now isn?t to wade into the midst of the fray but to stand your ground and pray!
The importance of prayer cannot be over-emphasized. He uses the word ?all? three times in this verse: ?all times?, ?all perseverance? for ?all the saints?.
The first word Paul uses for prayer is a general word, but the second: ?request? means an entreaty. So we are to pray, guided by the Spirit, and ask for things directly. It?s not just ?Lord bless this situation? but specific things you want to happen.
John 14:13 ?Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.?
So we pray, with the goal in view of the Father being glorified in the Son. Pray for ways that you will be better able to represent Jesus, reflect His character, and further His kingdom.
Paul says to ?stay alert?. ?Alert? means: ?to lose sleep over.? I?m not suggesting that we become insomniacs and pray all night every night. But you know how when you wake up at night mulling over something?and your mind simply won?t let you go back to sleep? We should pay attention to and remember prayer as a battle weapon in the same way.
Further, Paul says to use ?perseverance? and ?intercession?. The idea seems to be not that we should fight falling asleep while praying, though that?s important, but that we should pay careful attention to what we are praying, as if we are helping God wage war against the enemy with our prayers, all in preparation for the return of Jesus personally to earth.
Next Paul makes this request very personal
19 ? 20
In reality, Paul?s desire to be equipped to speak the gospel boldly is one of the best prayers we can offer up to God. Paul was in jail and needed special help to know when and how to share the good news of Jesus in his circumstance.
Remember that our feet are shod with the readiness of the gospel?and that the sharing of that gospel through the sword of the Spirit is our most powerful close-in weapon?able to pierce a hard heart and bring someone out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.
This reminds me of what happened after Peter and John were arrested for speaking the gospel. After they were released the church gathered to pray. But instead of quaking with fear, the building shook with power after their prayer:
Acts 4:29 ??And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, 30 while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.? 31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God?s message with boldness.?
May our prayers for one another be that we could open our mouths to make known the gospel with boldness!
Paul ends as most of Paul?s letters ended, with some final thoughts and greetings.
21 ? 24
Tychicus was a special envoy of Paul?s, especially in the later portions of his ministry. He likely carried this letter to Ephesus, and the one to the Colossians as well. Paul says that Tychicus will give them more details about his current situation, details he didn?t want to put into the letter. But notice that he?s doing it not to bum the Ephesians out but to ?encourage? them. I like that because really Paul had every reason to be bummed. He was in jail for the gospel!
But Paul recognized a wonderful truth, that God is good in every bad situation. Paul knew what it was like to be discouraged, but he wanted his friends to know that God was in control and that he was going to make it. What a wonderful gift to give them. And what a wonderful gift we can give to others who are concerned about us as well.
Finally, Paul closes the letter in similar fashion to many of his epistles. Here he wishes on them peace, love, faith, and grace. What more could we ask for? The part about ?undying love? for the Lord probably best connects with the quality of immortality that we will enjoy in heaven, coupled with the grace of God.
Why do we not pray?
- ?It takes too long to pray?
- So make a lot of short prayers. Nehemiah had only moments to pray.
- ?I don?t know what to say?
- Think about ways that the person or situation can help people come to Christ or be more like Christ.
- ?I fall asleep?
- It happens to all of us. Maybe see #1 or alter the times you pray
- ?My prayers aren?t answered?
- Again: John 14:13 ?Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.?
- Your prayers are answered, they are just filtered so that they will help further God?s kingdom. God may also shield you from seeing the answer so you don?t get puffed up, and that?s okay.
So how should I pray?
Strategic ? be specific in your prayers.
I think that we should be strategic in our prayers, much like a soldier is strategic in how he or she wages battle. Your main goal is to represent Jesus and steal as many people as possible from the Devil?s influence. So think about the places and situations that you and those around you encounter?work, school, family, community, etc. And then think about ways the enemy might try to stop you and those around you from representing Jesus. Pray against what the enemy plans and for what God plans. So if you know you are weak in a certain area of your character, pray for God?s redemptive power and pray for protection from attack in that area.
Systematic ? Don?t stop at one thing but think globally about a situation
Sustained - don?t stop praying for something until an answer comes
Whatever situation you are about to encounter, send in the Predator Drone of prayer and don?t stop praying even in the midst of the battle!