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We are going to talk about the last weapon that is in our spiritual warfare arsenal. It is given in the book of Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 18. It is prayer.
Often times people do not consider this a part of the weaponry. They don't think of prayer as a weapon because it's not mentioned as one. But prayer is a weapon. It is a very awesome weapon that we have. Eph 6:10-17 has been talking about the armor of God. The 18th verse, as we get through talking about the armor of God, says, "And with all prayer and petition praying at all times in the Spirit and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance with petition for all the saints."
Earlier in that passage it said to put on the full armor of God. The word for "full armor" is the Greek word panoply. It means seven elements. Whenever the Roman soldier put on the full armor, there were seven things that he put on. So far we have discussed six, so there has to be a seventh. Verse 18 is it -- prayer.
The one weapon that is not mentioned in the passage is the lance. The lance was used for long distances by throwing it and for up close, they would use it to charge. It is a very offensive weapon. That is also the way prayer is. Most of your prayer is going to be done with a little bit of long distance. Sometimes up close, sometimes it will be as if you are throwing it out. But there is power in that lance. There is power in prayer. Prayer is an awesome weapon of God. It is used to get the ear of God, it is used to activate angels, it is something that forces the enemies of God to fall down, and the power of darkness is rendered powerless through it.
One of my favorite stories about prayer is in the book of Acts in the 12th chapter. Herod had killed one of the disciples, James, the brother of John. He got such a good response, that he decided to kill more disciples. So Herod had Peter put in prison. As they were getting him ready for the trial, they chained him to a guard. He had escaped before and they wanted to make sure he was secure this time. In the middle of the night, Peter woke up and saw an angel standing in front of him. He thought he was having a vision. The chains fell off his arm, and the angel said, "Go!" So he walked out past the first set of guards, and nothing happened. He went past another set of guards and again nothing happened. (The whole time he still thought that he was having a vision.) He went to the gate and it opened like one of those automatic doors. He got on the other side of the gate and all of the sudden it hit him that this was real.
So he went to John Mark's mother's house, where the others were, and knocked on the door. The servant Rhoda heard his voice and recognized him, but she didn't open the gate. She ran back into the house and told everyone that Peter was outside.
It said that earlier they had been praying for Peter, praying for his release. Their faith began to show. "It couldn't be Peter. He's in jail. It must an angel or his ghost. It couldn't be him." They had been praying for Peter, but when he showed up, the didn't believe it. They thought it couldn't be him. Of course they eventually did let him in and he told them the entire story.
This is what that story tells me. You may not think that your prayers are doing much and you may not have the faith that God is doing something. But don't let that stop you. These guys didn't have any faith. They were out there praying for Peter, and when their prayers were answered, they didn't believe it. They were shocked that God actually did it! Their prayers worked.
We underestimate the power of prayer. We think that we have to be people of great faith to be able to pray. It's not going to take great faith, it's simply going to take prayer. It's going to take your faithfulness and your obedience in prayer. God will work through your faith (or your lack of it) because He is God. Do not underestimate the power of prayer -- and that is what we do. God is working. They didn't see what He was doing, and they didn't know what was happening. They just simply prayed and God came through. We can't see all that God is doing.
Prayer is a very powerful, very important weapon.
What do we need to learn about prayer? First, when should we be praying? The Bible says to pray at all times. Does that leave any time out? No, the Bible says that at all times we should be praying. This means literally in season and out of season. It means you pray when you do feel like it and when you don't feel like it.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to "pray without ceasing." Another version says "keep on praying," another says "never stop praying" and yet another says "pray continually." Do we get the picture?
We should always be in a constant state of prayer. In season and out of season, when we feel like it and when we don't feel like it. It's a matter of obedience. Sometimes we say we will pray when we feel like it. What would happen if you prayed just when you felt like it? How often would you pray? When a major crisis would come around, then I would feel like praying. I'm in big trouble, then I would feel like praying. If I really needed something, then I would feel like praying. It's more than that. It's all the time. Sometimes we ask, "Why should I bring up something to God more than once? Doesn't God have a good memory? He's smart, can't He figure this thing out? If I ask once why do I need to keep asking Him again?" Some people think that you ask God once and then you don't ask again. They think that you are insulting God if you ask again. But that isn't what the Bible says.
In the book of Luke, chapter 11, it gives a story and at the end it says, "seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given, knock and it shall be opened." The word ask is "keep on asking," seeking is keep on seeking, and knocking is keep on knocking. We have to keep coming before God. So prayer is always and continually coming before God.
Some people think that if I keep asking God then that is a lack of faith. No, it's not a lack of faith. It's obedience. Keep on asking.
How am I to pray? The Bible says that we are to "Pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayer." In the new century version, it really spells it out. "With all kinds of prayers asking for what you need. Do this as you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all of God's people."
This passage is not just talking about one kind of prayer. It's talking about all kinds of prayer. There is intercessory prayer, there is worship prayer, there is petition prayer. There are all kinds of ways that we pray. Sometimes we pray standing, sometimes we pray sitting. Sometimes we pray kneeling, sometimes we are flat on our face. Sometimes we are loud, sometimes we are very quiet. And sometimes, we don't say a thing. Anything that fits into the category of prayer fits here.
But the key is that you want to pray in the Spirit. In the Spirit means that you are cooperating with the Spirit of God for prayer. It's not just one particular way of praying. Some think it is, but it isn't. Anytime you are cooperating with the Holy Spirit, that is praying in the Spirit.