2020-10-07Prayer: a simple guide for normal people
SMALL GROUP MATERIAL
- There was a lot to unpack today, what stood out to you most?
- Ephesians 6 talks about putting on a spiritual armour, why do you think prayer is the glue that holds everything together?
- The Bible talks about the reality of spiritual warfare, have you ever witnessed it in your life?
- Why do you think knowing the enemy and knowing your authority matters?
- Spiritual warfare often requires a sacrifice… be that fasting from something, perseverance in prayer or speaking God’s promises into hard moments. Why do you think it’s hard?
- Since we are now finishing this series on prayer, what changes has it made or will you make in your life?
a simple guide for normal people
Oct 10 // FIGHT CLUB
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Know your enemy
Know your authority
Know how to fight
Ephesians 6:10-12 & 18
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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.”
“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.”
1 Peter 5:8
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.”
In 1999 the movie fight club came out (make a light hearted comment that this is an inappropriate movie for youth to watch). The basic premise of the movie was about white-collar insomniacs organizing underground fight matches. One of the most famous lines in the movie is “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” This has been said so many times by so many Prayerpeople… probably by many who have never actually watched the movie.
So what does Fight Club have to do with prayer?!
Over the past two weeks we’ve looked at creating a thin place where we can meet with God, and how to actually pray as we looked at the model of the Lord’s prayer. But prayer doesn’t simply stop there. In today’s passage Ephesians 6, the author Paul encourages us not to simply pray prayers that are meek and mild… but rather prayers that are forceful, assertive and with authority.
Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Martin Luther, one of the most influential figures in the church, who sparked the protestant reformation once said this about prayer: “We must all practise violence and remember that he who prays is fighting against the devil and the flesh… Satan is opposed to the church… the best thing we can do, therefore, is to put our fists together and pray.”
- “The first rule of Prayer Fight Club is: You talk about Prayer Fight Club.”When we talk about this type of prayer the Bible refers to it as Spiritual Warfare. Spiritual warfare tends not to be meek and mild, but forceful, assertive, and authoritative. It is sometimes accompanied with fasting, and generally requires perseverance and careful spiritual discernment. There are three things you really need to know to be effective in this kind of prayer:Know your enemy
Know your authority
Know how to fight
Know Your Enemy
1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Sometimes the talk of Satan, demons, fallen angels and apocalyptic battles between cosmic forces of light and darkness will sound ridiculous to some and like a plot from a Marvel Movie to others. In Canada and The West, we have, for the most part, replaced biblical cosmology with humanistic physiology, sociology and anthropology (not the store). Every bad thing; every sin is attributed to some sort of societal or clinical cause. BUT… even in our supposed sophistication… we remain aware that there is evil in our world. Almost everyday there are stories in the news, on twitter, on instagram… where people are killed because of their skin colour, people who rape children, animal torture, bombs dropped on civilians in war torn countries. And away from the headlines and stories, we remain aware that we have the shocking capacity to hate, to hurt, to use and abuse others.
Pastor, theologian and scholar NT Wright writes:
“When human beings worship that which is not God, they give authority to forces of destruction and malevolence; and those forces gain power.”
This is why Ephesians 6 warns us against the real struggles.
(SHARE PERSONAL OR ANOTHER STORY OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE)
While living in exile under the Babylonian regime, the great biblical hero Daniel received a disturbing revelation from God one day about a great impending war. Understanding his authority and the power of prayer, Daniel began to intercede, fasting from meat and alcohol, and even “lotions”! When we are facing significant battles and are in need of breakthrough, it’s always worth considering some form of bodily self denial. Fasting can help focus our prayers the way a magnifying glass focuses sunlight to start a fire.This might mean going without food, social media, Netflix, or even, in Daniel’s case, LOTION! Three weeks of fasting and praying, Daniel was met by an angel who provided breakthrough to his battle. The angel said:
“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
This encounter provides a fascinating insight into the spiritual battle that goes on in the heavenly realms when we pray and also into the time lapse that may require perseverance in prayer. Daniel had to pray and fast for 3 weeks!This story in Daniel and many others like it in the bible can often be ignored for sounding strange or consuming or like a weird sequel to Doctor Strange. But there are two important truths we can take from these stories:
1. The Bible does indeed teach that there are spiritual powers at work in our world, affecting organizations and cultures as well as individuals.
2. As citizens of heaven, followers of Jesus, we must exercise great discernment so that we can stand against those powers.
Sometimes we see evil as simply personal faults or petty temptations, others may see it as super villains and terrorists. But so often these powers never appear as evil or coercive. They masquerade themselves as freedoms that we have been graciously given or necessities that we cannot live without.
Know Your Authority
Have you ever seen the moment when a tiny dog goes after a large dog. It barks loud but we all know if there was a fight, the little dog would lose. However there are these weird moments when the large dog rolls over in submission in effect saying, “Please don’t hurt me. Please like me. You can be the boss”… and you think to yourself, what have I just witnessed?!
To many people are often timid in their prayers and terrified in dealing with the enemy. Like the large dog, Christians can often submit and roll over to the bark and the growl of the tiny dog without realizing who they are in Christ, how highly favoured they are, how powerful hey are, and how much authority they actually have. In the same letter to the Ephesians Paul reminds the church that:
“God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all.” Eph 1:20 (The Message)
Having cast this awesome vision of Jesus and his authority, Paul tells the Ephesians something utterly astounding. He says that those who are in Christ, a term he uses 164 times instead of “Christian”… are right up with Jesus, as God “picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus.” Eph 2:6
Isn’t that MIND-BLOWING?! You and I have been seated with Christ, which means when we pray, we don’t just plead for mercy from the midst of mess, but rather, we exercise authority from above, as those seated with Christ.
Like the large dog who rolls over to the tiny dog, we don’t have to roll over helplessly and submit to Satan’s schemes, because we are sons and daughters of the King, commissioned to rule and reign by his side. “In prayer, we are learning to rule and reign with Christ.” Pete Greig.
Know How to Fight
To engage in effective spiritual warfare, you need to know your enemy and your authority, but most of all, you need to know how to fight! There are three questions you should always ask when confronting any kind of conflict in prayer:
1. Diagnosis: What is the enemy’s strategy against this person or place?
To answer this question simply use some common sense (it’s often quite obvious), wisdom (not all bad things that happen are necessarily demonic) and spiritual discernment (Satan can be a convincing liar).
2. Prognosis: Having diagnosed the problem, ask yourself, What might God’s better plan be for this person or place?
To answer this question you need listen carefully to the Bible and the promises of God, as well as intuitions you may receive from the Holy Spirit (which must align with the Bible and God’s character).
3. Prescription: Having discerned what Satan is trying to do and what God is wanting to do, ask yourself, What an I now do, both prayerfully and practically, to thwart Satan’s plan and to welcome God’s better purposes into this person, place or situation?
Prayer is a two-sided coin. On one side lies the private, thin place where you daily meet with God. Growing close in intimacy, and learning how to hear his voice. The other side is the response out of the thin place where we ready ourselves to fight against the enemy’s plans to kill, steal and destroy. Know your enemy, know you have authority because God has raised you up to sit with Christ, and know that have a significant role to play in welcoming the good purposes, promises and love of God into people, places and situations.