(I’m interested in this topic. If you are not, feel free to pass by this blog post.)
I have often wondered just how prayer works. I mean, God is – well – God. And He is sovereign. And He knows the end from the beginning. And His will WILL be done.
Yet, God has made it clear in His word that prayer does matter. It does change things. It does impact our world. As Pastor Geoff Bassett recently stated, “We are given the dignity of impacting our world through prayer.”
I have heard of prayer referred to as the long-distance barrage of artillery fire into enemy plans and enemy territory. And I like that. Our prayers do impact the course of events from a distance, even if we can’t see far enough to see the shells landing in the middle of the enemy’s plans.
Recently, I feel that the Lord gave me a small glimpse into the reality of prayer. And the glimpse related to warfare, and the spiritual truth that we are in the battle.
There are a few different components to this.
(Of course, our spiritual armor is crucial to our war efforts, but I’m going to pass by that component in this post. Instead, my ‘vision’ had more to do with strategy, and the various roles we each play in this battle.)
Let me see if I can get these thoughts on paper in such a way that they will make sense – in such a way that they may encourage us in our part of the war.
Every major battle in history was begun with a battle plan in place prior to the opening salvo. The leader of each army does his best to understand the lay of the battle ground, the components of his own forces, and the forces that the enemy brings to the battle. To this end, he sends out scouts to observe, interpret and report on what the enemy is planning and where the enemy strongholds are.
As he gathers this intelligence information, the leader assigns jobs to his own forces.
In his plan, each brigade, each company, each patrol plays a specific role. Air support, artillery barrages, naval maneuvering, and intelligence each play a specific and important role. And the closer they comply to the overall battle plan, the more impact they will have on the outcome.
Now think about how this plan can encounter problems.
What happens if every company does its job except for one? Suddenly the front line is broken and the enemy has a weak point to exploit and further his goals.
Or what if one company does its job properly, but only for one hour, and then decides to focus their attention and efforts on getting comfortable and easing into the rest that they “so richly deserve”?
What if one company gets their orders, but then thinks they would better serve in another part of the battle, or sets off marching to a place of their own choosing?
Any of these situations leads to suboptimal outcomes and lost lives.
Just as each company plays a key role, each individual also bears a great responsibility. And each one must do their part in order for the patrol, platoon, company and brigade to function effectively.
Spiritually, there are also attacks and counterattacks by the enemy. In joining in this ageless conflict, each of us must fulfill our assigned part. None of us are assigned a position on the sidelines. Nor is this a “one and done” operation. The Lord’s plan is laid for centuries, not for minutes. Every person plays an important role in the whole of His supreme battle plan.
But each troop, doing our job in a timely effective manner, pushes the enemy back. But, (and this is the part that helped me recognize that my little prayers matter) there are several ways that we can lose impact in the battle.
If one of us falters, the whole army loses impact.
If one of us quits early, the enemy refreshes his attack.
If one of us gets distracted, the enemy has an opportunity to take back hard-earned ground.
In this battle, each prayer pushes the enemy back, blocks an attack, trips up a demon, thwarts a plot.
There are many times, buried deep within the battle plan, when an individual troop may serve a function that has no obvious bearing on the “hot” battle. A driver supplying the front line may never see a shot fired, but that driver must see their mission through or the battle falters and lives are lost. In fact, military stats show that for every front line “shooting” member, there are as many as 100 support troops. But each one serves a critical role in the overall battle plan.
Some warriors are trained for roles that take place deep behind enemy lines. Others are snipers. Some are scouts, or artillery gunners, or hostage rescuers, or sappers, or front-line infantry. The job list goes on and on.
In each case, however, if one of us fails to pray, the rest of the army suffers. If we quit before the final battle, lives, and even countries, are lost.
This is true for history, for countries, and for individuals. Satan does not attack once and then give up when he meets resistance. Effective resistance, and even major defeats dealt to the enemy, only mean that he will fall back, regroup, replan and attack again – until the final day of our Lord’s final victory.
Every prayer offered is another bullet fired, pushing back Satan’s attacks on our country, the Church, our family, sickness…
So, what makes our prayers effective? Fervency, faith, selflessness, persistence, unity with other believers, and alignment with God’s will and word – these are components that make for world-changing prayers.
I understand how we can get weary and frustrated in our prayers. I have been praying for certain people and answers for decades. There are times when I have wondered – what is the point?
Some prayers seem to do nothing, while others result in immediate and obvious answers, and in those victorious moments, we get to see that God moves in an obvious and miraculous way.
Regardless of what we see with our physical eyes, each prayer, spoken with faith is doing its job in the battle plan. We are told to continue in prayer. To persevere. To join together with other believers who will agree. To find and claim promises from God’s word.
In the word, we are encouraged to not lose heart, to not fear, to not waver in unbelief, and to keep our hearts and relationships clean before coming to the throne room.
Prayers have been described as incense, filling bowls in God’s throne room. They have been shown to change the course of history. And they have been shown effective in my own life.
Our assignment in the battle is crucial to important and eternal outcomes. Daily, there are over 150,000 deaths in the world. People go into eternity with or without a relationship with God. Our prayers are instrumental in rescuing hostages, breaking chains and strongholds, and stopping the plans of hell against the kingdom of God.
Let us press on in our calling to impact history by coming boldly into His presence, laying His promises before Him as they apply to our situations, doing battle on our knees, and let us believe what God has said in His word.