Both Peter and Paul knew the ferocity of the enemy’s attacks. Hence, it is little wonder that they called believers to be ever alert:
• “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
• “With all prayer and supplication, in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (Eph. 6:18)
Their words are strong and pointed, as both apostles understood that all believers are targets of the enemy. No follower of God is immune from the attacks of the one who will devour whom he can. If the enemy was brazen enough to attack Peter, Paul, and Jesus Himself (Mt. 4:11), surely we should not expect anything less. The battle is on, whether we like it or not.
Sometimes the most deceived believers are those who fail to recognize the reality of the battle—and who thus fail to prepare for the battle through prayer. C. S. Lewis reminds us through the senior demon Screwtape how Satan attacks us: “The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient [the human being] from the serious intention of praying altogether.” Indeed, prayerlessness is a primary indicator that a believer may have already lost the battle.
Moreover, we must not miss the Apostle Paul’s mandate to pray for all believers with persistence and perseverance. Because the battle is real for all believers, intercessory prayer for each other is a non-negotiable. Most of our praying, however, is more reactive than proactive; that is, we start praying only after we learn of a losing battle (e.g., a family is in trouble, a young person is wandering, or a church is divided). The devil aims his arrows, hits his target—and then we decide to pray.
Frankly, praying for others is hard work, and discouragement sets in quickly. It is easy to fall asleep on the watch just as Jesus’ own disciples did (Lk. 22:45-46). Nevertheless, might the enemy win fewer battles if we strategically, intentionally, and urgently prayed more often for each other?
–Adapted from Chapter 69 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (Prayer and Spiritual Warfare) by Chuck Lawless
Holy Spirit, draw my wandering heart back to the urgency of prayer! Keep me aware of the dangerous plans of the enemy of my soul and what an easy target I can be! Make me dangerous once again for the sake of God’s kingdom! Wake up my sleepy prayer life and infuse it with fresh power and purpose so that in the name of Jesus Christ, I will win the battles set before me and free the captives held hostage by my lack of prayer!
Praise God, the one who ultimately dispenses justice (Prov. 29:26). Thank him for leaders in your country and community who consistently hold up God’s just standards. Confess ways in which you have not followed those standards in your own life. Commit to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Mic. 6:8). Ask God to use you to help bring this way of life to your part of the world.
Pray for your world missionaries. Ask God to remind them that “fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Prov. 29:25).
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend
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