One of the most vital components of any war is maintaining constant communication with Command Headquarters. Not only does this communication allow us to request reinforcements should we need it, we have constant access to instructions on what we are required to do in a particular situation and, if we are in a position of leadership or on a special mission, access to vital intelligence. Lines that are free of interference obviously make for better communication.
It is no different in our spiritual war, where prayer serves as our communication link with God, and keeping the lines static-free—having no unforgiveness in our hearts or unrepented sin on our conscience—ensures for more effective communication. Most spiritual battles are won with prayer, where requests for assistance often result in the total and complete annihilation of enemy strongholds.
I have had problems with alcohol, cigarettes and other addictions in my life, none of which trouble me anymore. Although my taste for whiskey was not taken away as a result of prayer—God blasted that particular fortress without my asking and nuked it so thoroughly there has never been the slightest desire to imbibe ever since—all other enemy strongholds in my mind were destroyed in response to prayer.
Prayer is like a ballistic missile, guided and extremely powerful. It is nothing short of amazing that this remarkable weapon, which is available to everybody, is so rarely used. And, when used, is often utilized ineffectively. We often radio in our call for help, but then, rather than prepare ourselves for the battle to follow, we do the equivalent of digging ourselves into a foxhole and waiting for the heavy artillery to arrive. This isn’t going to get us anywhere! God is there to help us win this war (which, in case we need reminding, is against an enemy who has already been defeated) but we have to do what needs to be done: fight!
We also have the habit of spending most of our prayer time in one-way communication. Yes, we need to let God know what our situation is and what we need from Him, but we also have to listen to what He says in reply! We can’t listen if we are yammering away all the time, which is what some of us do in prayer.
And then, those of us who do listen, don’t obey! Obedience is critical in war—any war. If there is one thing that I have learned in my life as a Christian soldier, it is to obey and to obey without question. We have to recognize that our commander has a much better idea of what is going on in the field of battle and his instructions are as much as a result of that as of overall strategy. When we disobey his instructions we jeopardize everything, including the salvation of our brothers who fight alongside us, and towards whom we also have a responsibility.
Looking out for our brothers is important. We are not fighting this war on our own. Our compatriots fight with us and if they go down, we go down. Most of us don’t seem to understand this basic fact, and rather than uniting in fighting the enemy, we squabble amongst ourselves. The enemy is not the Pope. Or Benny Hinn. Or George Bush. Or the next-door neighbor. The enemy is the devil and if we are to beat him we have to fight him together. This is why Paul advises us to “always keep on praying for all the saints.” The saints are our fellow Christians and it is our duty to constantly intercede for their protection.
There are several other things to keep in mind when praying. Here are a few of the more important ones.
When we request for assistance, we need to be specific. If we have a problem with a particular sexual sin, for instance, we should pray for deliverance from that particular sin, not for deliverance from all the sexual ills of the world. Or if we have difficulty in forgiving one particular person who hurt us, we should pray that we be granted the grace to forgive that person, not his family whom we have nothing against.
We shouldn’t put limitations on what we ask for. There are, after all, no restrictions on the assets available to us. If we need heavy guns, we should ask for them. If we need reinforcements we should ask for them too. God will even send His angels to protect us if we put in the request.
We need to understand that not all requests will be granted. As stated earlier, our field commander has a greater understanding of what is happening on the battlefield than we do. Consequently, he might deny some of our requests as unnecessary or even detrimental to us. We should accept these “denials of requests” with the full faith that God knows what is best for us.
When we are under severe attack, the hardest thing to do is to drop down to our knees in prayer, but it is the one thing we absolutely have to do if we don’t want to go under. Let our prayer be impassioned at these times; just the way we would beg our commander for help if we were surrounded on all sides by the enemy in a “real” battle and were at risk of losing our life.
We should not be afraid of “losing face” by asking our fellow soldiers for help if we need it. Once, I was subjected to the most ferocious attacks I had experienced in recent months. I fought them off without too much difficulty but when the attacks continued for days without ceasing I realized that the enemy had embarked on a new strategy to get me to fall. He was trying to wear me out—and I was getting weary. I promptly asked for prayer support from my friends. Before the day was over the attacks had ceased.
We should not report only our losses to God; we need to tell Him of the victories we have achieved too. Some of us beat the enemy continuously for weeks and months on end but then are hurt by a stray arrow. We instantly forget all the victories we achieved and focus on the defeat. This plays right into the enemy’s hands, who thrives on discouragement. Let us not give him that satisfaction!
When we are hurt, we should go straight to the infirmary, get ourselves treated for our wounds, and return to battle as soon as we can. Translated, this means that if we fall, we should waste no time going to God in repentance, accept the complete forgiveness that He gives us, and get back to war, determined to pay the enemy back a hundred times for what he did to us.
We should not forget the power of coordinated fire. Rambo-style missions are great on the odd occasion, but hit-and-run tactics don’t work very well in this war, which mostly needs the concerted and persistent effort of soldiers. So we should pray together with our brothers and sisters often and with persistence. It often takes a lot of effort and patience to smash a well-fortified bunker!
Before I conclude, I would like to leave you with a prayer that you can say when you wake up each morning. Envisage yourself donning the Armor of God, putting on each item one by one.
As you buckle the Belt of Truth, pray that God keeps it firm throughout the day and reveals any weaknesses in it that might cause it to snap.
As you fasten the Breastplate of Righteousness, ask God to make you the person He created you to be, and remind yourself that you need to be good in His eyes alone; the opinion of the world does not matter.
As you slip on the Gospel Shoes, pray that God takes you to places where people don’t know Him and gives you the chance to bring them His message of love and salvation.
As you pick up the Shield of Faith, pray that He strengthens it, so that you are protected from anything and everything the enemy might hurl at you.
As you wear the Helmet of Salvation, celebrate the victory that God has won for you and pray that you turn deaf to all the insidious whisperings of the evil one.
And as you raise the mighty Sword of the Spirit, pray that God continues to give you the wisdom, the skill and the strength to wield it effectively during the day that follows.
May the Spirit be with you.