Prayer That Battles

Ephesians 6:13-19 (Emphasis on verse 18)
 As Jason said, my name is Colton Willie and it’s a privilege to be in front of you again this morning. And for those of you who are visiting with us, welcome. We’re glad you’re here.
If you have a copy of scripture, I would invite you to find Ephesians chapter 6 and we’ll be starting in verse 13. But before we dive in, let’s call on the name of the Lord in prayer. Shall we?
Father God, may You be magnified now. May Your Holy Spirit work amongst us, Lord. God, if we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. But Lord, we can confide in hope and trust in Your might, Lord. So Father, I pray that You might use Your servant to deliver Your Word to Your people. And Father, I pray that You might open the minds and the hearts of everyone in this room, Lord. And God, that You might save. Arise, O Lord. Salvation belongs to You. May the name of the Lord, Jesus, be magnified today. God, grow Your church, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Well, friends, it’s late February. The ice is melting. Praise the Lord! And for me, it means my next term of seminary is right around the corner. That’s right, back to writing papers, back to reading systematic theologies, and back to fighting my constant tendency to be a die hard perfectionist. Do I have any self-diagnosed perfectionists in the room tonight? Okay, perfect! Last hour I had like one. Just preaching to him apparently. But isn’t it rough being a perfectionist? I mean, there are some good things… sure. But if you’re a perfectionist… Right?… you’ve mastered the art of making the most mundane, simple things way harder than they need to be… Right? My professor says, ‘Hey, Colton, I just need you to make a 10-page paper for me.’ What about 30 pages? Let’s do that instead. My professors hate it, and it drives my wife nuts!
A couple of terms ago I was writing a paper.  I was super stressed out. I was actually losing sleep. I was just filled with anxiety. And Rachel, my beloved wife, she sat me down in the living room. I’ll never forget what she said to me. And it really holds true through these last couple of terms. “Colton, Honey… listen. Seminary is a marathon, not a sprint.” It was a good word. What was she saying, though? She was trying to help me give up my pride of perfectionism and just enjoy the process of school… by the way, not driving myself crazy in the process.
Friends, the topic we’re dealing with today, I would argue to you, is much the same. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
We’re in a sermon series called The Church at War, going through the various different pieces of God’s armor for the Christian saint. And today we’re talking about prayer… more specifically, a prayer that battles.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when Pastor Pat asked me to preach on this, I kind of felt like Paul, like… ‘Who’s adequate for this?’ Or maybe like Moses… ‘Please, send someone else!’
If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t consider myself a prayer warrior. I’m not always battling with my prayer. Sometimes, it’s more of just a check box, just something we’re supposed to do. Yet it’s probably safe to say that prayer as outlined in God’s word is one of the most important tools that a church at war has at its disposal. In fact, in his book on prayer, Timothy Keller writes this:
“Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle, yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important or harder or richer or more life altering. There’s absolutely nothing so great as prayer.”
— Timothy Keller
Wow! Christians, we should all be prayer warriors. But how? That’s our question for today. How can we be a church that battles in our prayer lives?
And so again, I would invite you to the Book of Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 13, as we try to unpack, ‘What does it look like to have a prayer life that battles?’
Ephesians 6:13-20
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, 15 and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
And so we have yet another addition into the whole armor of God… Prayer. And yet you might notice that prayer is not given as another piece of the set. We don’t see here the spear of prayer or the greaves of prayer. Prayer is instead set apart. It’s not personified as equipment, because a prayer that battles is first Proactive. And what does “proactive” mean? It’s causing something to happen rather than responding to what’s happened. And that’s what we see in the text. If you look at verse 18 again, Paul just says, “Pray.” And yet, starting in verse 13, he says,
Ephesians 6
13 “Take up the full armor of God.”
14 “Gird your loins with truth.
15″Shod your feet with the gospel.”
16 “Take the helmet of salvation.”
All the armaments of God require action to put on. Yet, Paul tells the Christian just to pray, not take up prayer, not gird prayer, not shod prayer. Why?
When I was in college, I studied abroad in Ireland for about two weeks where I got my sweet Irish accent. And when I was there, I went to the Viking Museum in Dublin. This museum was awesome, right? They had Viking long boats with the giant oars. They had the horns, they had the axes, they had the swords. And I’m a history teacher at public school. Me being a huge history nerd, I was just like, “Whoa, this is amazing!” Right? But one of my favorite memories was when I got to try on some authentic medieval armor! Now listen, I’m a history nerd. But I’m also a dude. What dude is not dreamt of putting on the full set of plate armor?! I was like Mel Gibson in Braveheart…Right?! More pain at all. So I started to put the armor on. And I started with this super sweet helmet. So this is me when I’m like 21, a long time ago. Sweet helmet…Right? Can’t see anything. But the very first thing I noticed is… Wow! This thing is heavy! How did anyone fight in this stuff?! Now I later learned in that same museum that this kind of armor, the plate mail, it was mainly reserved for the richest of all the combatants, right? The knights would probably wear this, the aristocrats. And most knights had what we would call a squire… Right? Which would be a knight in training, a young boy, a teenager, someone that would want to be a knight when they grew up. And this armor was so heavy that before this knight went into battle or went into a tournament, the knight would actually have the squire help them put the armor on. The armor was so heavy the night couldn’t do it by himself!
What am I saying? A day started without prayer is a day started without armor. Because only through the ministry of the Word and prayer does the Lord put His armor on us. I mean, look at Paul’s list here; The Belt of Truth, The Breastplate of Righteousness, The Shoes of the Gospel. Friends, I’ll say it again, who is adequate for these things? These are heavy concepts, heavy life postures. Volumes of books have been written on every single one. How do we do this? Only through prayer, and through asking our loving Father to actually put them on us, can we live in them. Our part ultimately is just to seek the Father’s strength of might before we go into battle.
Just a few days ago I was reading about King David’s proactive prayer, specifically as he’s battling the Philistines. This is in 1 Samuel chapter 23, verses1-5. Here’s what it says:
1 Samuel chapter 23:1-5
Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”
[And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.]
King David knew he was going into battle. He knew that the odds were not in his favor. His men are terrified. They don’t want to go… Right? He knows his enemy is fearsome and numerous and he’s, you know, that’d be a tough spot. What does he do first? It doesn’t get all the armor and stuff together. He doesn’t give a rousing speech. He just prays. He prays.
Friends, we must do the same. To do anything less is to go into battle with a fearsome enemy, Satan, without any armor on! We don’t know what fiery darts the enemy will send our way, but we do know that certain circumstances, certain people, certain triggers, cause us to lose sight of Christ.
What are your triggers? Maybe it’s your workplace or your coworkers. Maybe it’s a certain group of friends. What are those places, people, or things in which you are more tempted to doubt the Lord or sin? Friends, pray before you interact with those things. Let the Father put His armor on you anew, maybe even multiple times a day. But how can we do this practically?
Being a learner of a prayer, and we’re all lifelong learners… Amen? But being a learner of prayer, I actually reached out to some of the Saylorville saints, some of which are actually sitting in this very room. And I asked them for advice on prayer. One Saylorville saint told me that he consistently, every day, prays Psalm 19:14 when he wakes up.
Psalm 19:14
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, by Rock and Redeemer.”
Now that’s putting on armor! That’s Proactive prayer. In this saint’s own words, “If I don’t take the first swings, I’m a step behind in the fight.” I love that! And it’s true. What scripture, saint, could you take as your own as a proactive prayer to center your mind on God and His will for your life and His will for that day? And notice something else that this saint does… Right? He does it every day. He has allotted a specific time for dedicated prayer. Do you have a time like this? If I’m being honest, this is where I struggle. I struggle to find an allotted time and to dedicate time to that. I need to find a dedicated, consistent time for prayer.
John Piper puts it this way. “The devil defeats most praying before it actually happens.”
We often… I often… don’t set up this specific time because we’re persuaded that our schedules won’t allow it or that it’s too legalistic, it’s just too dogmatic. But friends, any voice that’s telling you to not talk to God, that’s not from God. Right? And if prayer is a marathon and not a sprint, some of you might be marathoners. What marathoner doesn’t practice and train before they race? A prayer that battles is always, first, proactive.
Okay, that’s good, great, awesome. But who in here has ever had a day that didn’t quite go as planned? Anybody? Yeah, everybody… Right? If you live on planet earth, that applies to you. Yeah, all of us.
Luckily a prayer that battles is not just Proactive. A prayer that battles is also Reactive. It must react to our day-to-day living.
Let’s look back at the text. Now, notice the sequence that Paul gives here. He went through all these armaments of the armor of God, and yet, notice the last armament before prayer. The Sword of the Word. And like all scripture, this is inspired. It’s not by accident. Friends, before our prayers react to our day-to-day living, they must first react to our day-to-day devotion in God’s Word.
Again, Timothy Keller illustrates this in an awesome way through the picture of natural human development. Some of you have littles… you have toddlers. And those toddlers are starting to talk… Right? And it’s pretty exciting… Right? And it’s like, oh wow, it’s amazing! I didn’t even know you knew those words. Some of them you’re like, oh, it’s a little too much. You’re talking too much. And then some of you might be even convicted. Why would it be convicting when our toddlers speak? Because the child’s model for their own words are the words they hear from their parents. Children learn only to speak by being spoken to.
What am I saying? Our words to God, our prayers, must first and foremost be reactive to God’s words to us. How often are you listening to your heavenly Father speak to you in his Word? Friends, listen. Your prayer vocabulary will grow as you grow in the knowledge of God’s Word. It just will.
One Saylorville saint puts it this way;
“I memorize scripture so that I can battle. I have it loaded and ready to fire for when temptations and gospel opportunities arise.”
See? that’s reactive prayer. He’s reacting to the word. That’s why verse memorization is of such value to the Christian saint. If, as Pastor has said, our most important battle is between our ears, we must fill our minds with scripture, with God’s vocabulary if we are to react with prayer to the fiery darts that the enemy is shooting at us daily.
And yet that’s not all. Look back again at the text, verse 18. Paul writes,
Ephesians 6:18
“With all prayer and petition, pray.”
Seems a bit redundant, doesn’t it? Hey Christian, whatever you pray… pray. How about that? Why the redundancy? Well, interesting enough, those are two different Greek words for prayer. The first word is more just a general action of praying. Just pray. The second word is a very specific prayer with a definite aim… Right? So what seems to be the message here? What’s Paul trying to say? He’s basically saying this, when you pray, pray with intention. Pray expectantly. Pray that God will work through your prayers. Pray with purpose.
And yet that’s not all. Look again at the text. With all prayer and petition, pray at all times. What’s Paul saying? He’s saying that the best time to pray intentionally is all the time. Youch! I don’t know about you, but that’s really convicting to me, like super convicting! And yet that’s what we see in the text. Look again at the whole text, with all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit. And with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. It’s an unceasing discipline, right? I’ll say it again, who’s adequate for this?
One of my favorite summer pastimes is the great sport of disc golf. Any disc golfers in here? Awesome! Last service there was, like, one. And he came up and talked to me. He said, “I found your disc.” Oh, awesome! But here’s the deal. If you’ve ever played disc golf, you know that the greatest tragedy that happens to us disc golfers is to lose your favorite disc. I mean, those things are like $20 a pop, right? Not to mention you wear ’em in, right? And so you get them set up where they actually fly different. I’m gonna tell you right now, like there are certain holes in the metro. If I don’t have my favorite discs, I’m not going to do very well. Turns out I’m actually not that good at disc golf, in all honesty.
This last fall I went and I shot a few rounds at a Big Creek at Polk City and Rachel, being the awesome wife, she came with me. So I lined up on hole four… the hardest hole, by the way. I lined up my perfect shot. I did my steps… one, two, the plant foot… and then just let her rip! Annnddd… right into the woods! And so Rachel and I, we saunter into the woods. We look for five minutes… then 10 minutes… I’m getting frustrated! ‘Because, let’s be honest. If I lose this disc golf, if I lose this disc, my disc golf career’s done. How am I gonna go pro? After about 15 minutes, Rachel has the audacity to look at me and say, “Well, Honey, have you prayed about it?!” What? God, Almighty, doesn’t care about my lost disc!
But what does Paul say? With all prayer and petition pray at all times. You know, a lie that the Enemy often plants in my head to hamstring my prayer life? God only cares about our BIG prayers. He cares when I’m struggling with temptation. He cares when I’m praying for a lost coworker. But He doesn’t care about my lost disc, or the fact that I could enjoy the weather, or a delicious cup of coffee, or a good book or a good show.
A common saying is that there are no atheist in fox holes. Why? Because the common man is most likely to pray when they come to an end of themselves, when they have no other options.
Yet the commentator, S.M. Baugh says, and I quote,
“Genuine believers pray inside and outside the foxhole, even when the shelling stops, because their mortal enemy, Satan, never sleeps.”
Friends, Satan is not a part-timer. He is constantly looking to drag you down in your sins and destroy your faith and honestly just ruin your life. Satan hates you and he’s constantly fighting against us. But how do we pray like this? How do we pray unceasingly? I mean, it just seems so difficult. And honestly, I’m just very distracted a lot of times. How can I be reactive in my prayer life? I got a couple pretty famous passages for you. Many of you will know them. I’m going to only read the first one in detail, I want you to, as you’re seeing these passage on the screen, what is the theme that’s bracketing unceasing prayer? Here we go.
This is
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. (There’s that reactive prayer.) In everything, give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
 And then as we keep going, Philippians 4:4-6. Notice the theme. He’s still talking about prayer:
Philippians 4:4-6
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And then Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Again, notice our theme here at the end… Thanksgiving. So what is the theme? It’s faithfulness… Right? Whenever the Christian is called to pray unceasingly in Scripture, it’s almost always bracketed in faithfulness. Why? If we want to pray unceasingly, we have to become more increasingly aware of God’s faithfulness and kindness throughout our daily life. Check out verse 18 again. Paul says:
Ephesians 6:18
“Pray at all times in the Spirit.” And with this in view, “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
That word “alert” in the actual original Greek is really interesting. “Alert” basically means a constant sleepless watch. I imagine, like a lone century, like up on a tower, scanning the horizons for approaching enemies. You’re on watch and you never sleep. You’re literally a century on watch for things. And that word “perseverance,” it’s pretty much exactly as it’s seen in the text. Stand firm. Keep going. Keep pushing. Persevere in prayer.
You want to fight the lies of the Enemy and the temptations of your flesh? Be on watch for things to thank your heavenly Father for. Friends, even small things, even lost discs…Right?
And persevere in that praise when things get hard, because they will. We know that. It’s especially important to have a lens of thankfulness in our prayer life when we’re hurting, when times are tough. Jesus once said,
(Luke 16:10)
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.”
Prayer is a marathon, not a sprint. We open ourselves to attack when we fool ourselves into thinking that God only wants elaborate, big prayers. Like any seasoned marathon runner, which some of you might be, it’s the small, consistent, mental check-ins that keep us in the race. It’s those small, arrow prayers to heaven that help us keep running despite the pain, despite the exhaustion. Listen, Christian,
“You persevere best when you’re praising the Lord.”
Friends, through the blood of Christ, Hebrews says that you’re able to…
(Hebrews 4:16)
…“draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.”
 So let me tell you something. Nothing is off limits for you to pray about. Bring every request, every concern, every doubt, every fear and every joy before your Maker. Dialogue with God about the day. When we unashamedly pray about the small things, we’re more likely to pray consistently throughout the day. And when you’re praying consistently throughout the day, the devil can’t get to you because your Lord is with you.
Yet it’s not just circumstances that we pray for. We also pray for people. Look again at the text,
Ephesians 6:18
“Be on the alert, with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
Paul asked not just for general prayers, but he asked that the Ephesians might actually pray for other people, specifically himself… Right? Listen, a prayer life that battles is not just Proactive, it’s not just Reactive, it’s Advocating. It’s advocating. Though we saints might have the full armor of the Lord on, and though we might as best we can, be full of consistent praise, our battle here on earth is hard. Is it not? You know that.
Some of you are joining us today with deep hurts. Oh, you’ve put the armor on, but that armor is scuffed. It’s dented. It’s slashed and the enemy keeps attacking. If our prayers, and indeed even our very lives, are a marathon, you might be struggling to see the finish line. You might even feel like collapsing from exhaustion.
See, unlike Pastor, (it’s going to be a shocker to most of you) I didn’t wrestle when I was a kid. (Audience laughing) Hey, why you laughing? No, no, I actually ran track for four years in high school. I love track. And one of my favorite things in track is when you see a track athlete help out the opposing runner. You’ve seen these videos… Right? You’ve got these runners. They’re on the last lap of the race. They’re tired. They’re fatigued. Their body is literally shutting down. And some of them, they collapse! They literally fall on the track. Despite all their preparation, despite all their mental endurance, they can’t go on. But then another runner comes up next to them, grabs them by the arms, they put them back on their feet, and in some cases, they literally walk them to the finish line.
What am I saying? Saylorville Church, if we are to be a church that battles, then we must battle with one another and for one another, especially in prayer for one another. We must advocate to the Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of our brothers and sisters, because ultimately, the only One that can bring you to the finish line of faith is the Lord, Jesus Christ. So call on Him for your brothers and sisters. Paul himself asked for that. Look at verse 19.
Ephesians 6:19
“Pray on my behalf. (See, that’s Advocacy.) That the utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth to make known with boldness, the mystery of the Gospel.”
What’s Paul praying for here? In this time of his life, Paul was going through terrible trials; persecutions, beatings, being imprisoned. And what’s he praying for? He says,
“Ephesians, please pray for me. I want to share the gospel. I want to be bold for God, but I’m tired. I’m worn out.
Do you relate? I do. What are some things that might keep the Ephesians from praying for Paul? The same stuff that keeps us from praying for other people. Time… maybe.  Just not enough time. Too many people to pray for… Right?
But you want to know what usually stops me the most? I’m just too busy praying for myself. And therein lies the power of an advocating prayer life. Christian, you are most vulnerable to the lies and the temptations of Satan when you’re focused on yourself, on your inadequacies, on all the things you could do better. Now, can we pray for those? Of course we can. But if we’re just stuck in this introspective hamster wheel, that’s a dangerous place to be. One biblical scholar puts it this way.
“The more you focus on yourself, the more miserable you’ll be. But the more you focus on others, the more joyful you’ll be.”
Abraham Miller.  Yes, THAT Abe Miller.
Friends, one of the best ways for us to battle in our prayer life is to advocate to Christ for our brothers and sisters. Doing so actually takes the target off of our back and it allows us to bolster one another in the faith. A prayer that battles is Proactive, it’s Reactive, it’s Advocating. But there’s one more point which Paul outlines and I think it might be the most crucial of all.
Let’s look again at the text, verse 18.
Ephesians 6:18
“With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit.”
One dear Saylorville saint said to me honestly and transparently, and I quote:
“Probably one of the hardest things about prayer is that it is by nature, self-death. Prayer is undervalued on our society because we’re not doing anything. We are depending on Another, on God alone.”
What is this dear saint saying? He’s saying that a prayer that battles is always a Yielding prayer. You see, often my prayers are haphazard and distracted because, honestly, I just want to get to doing stuff. And it’s good stuff. I want to read the Word. I want to serve. I want to evangelize… All good things that we should be doing… things that are necessary. But what does the Word say? Paul says this in
Ephesians 6:10
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
 Not MY might, Not MY works, not MY hustling, not the length or the eloquence of my prayer life, but the LORD’s might, HIS strength, HIS Spirit.
One commentator rightly states,
“Praying in the Spirit is a full awareness of who you were and who you are in Christ.”
If you’re a Christian, and we can’t assume that you all are, but for those of you who are, who were you before you were in Christ? And who are you in Christ? If we’re being honest according to the testimony of Scripture we were beggars invited to a great feast, we were orphans adopted into the greatest family, we were cripples given great strength, and we are sinners joined with a great Savior! That’s who you are in Christ.
If you’re with me today and you want a prayer life that battles against the Enemy, listen. You don’t need a bigger view of yourself. You need a bigger view of God. You must yield to the fact that His power given to you through Christ’s blood is the only power capable of defeating the spiritual forces against you. Satan is too powerful for you to fight on your own. You will lose every time.
Lately, a passage of scripture that’s been especially precious for Rachel and I is
2 Chronicles 20:12. It outlines the prayer of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, who, when Jerusalem, his capital city, was surrounded by a horde of enemies ready to plunder and kill and destroy, he prays this honest, yielding prayer. Listen…
2 Chronicles 20:12
“… we are powerless before this great multitude that’s coming against us, nor do we know what to do. But our eyes are on you.”
Do you relate? Do any of you feel powerless? Friends, there’s no better prayer to pray, for when we are at our weakest, and we admit it, God’s power is most magnified! Check out how the Lord responds. I love this. This is awesome!
2 Chronicles 20:15
“Thus says the Lord to you. ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the  battle is not yours, but God’s.”
You see, we sing songs like The Battle Belongs to the Lord. But saints, do we believe it?! Do I believe it? Christian, the Lord of Hosts waits eagerly for you to yield every burden, all your striving, all your inadequacies, all that introspective, and watch him work miracles in your life through the awesome power of prayer.
You see, whenever we sideline prayer in order to just do stuff, even good things, we shut off the very power that allows those things to bear fruit. Whenever we try to fight the devil without prayer, we’re basically saying that we’re stronger than the Lord who has promised to fight for us. And some of you are like, “But Colton, I just don’t know what to pray.” That’s okay. Scripture says Romans 8, ‘That when you don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for you.’ How cool is that? Christian, you don’t know how to pray?  Pray about praying! Ask the Lord to help you pray, and He will.
Christian, listen. Ultimately, the peace that comes from a prayer life that battles is not in the prayers answered when God says ‘yes,’or ‘no’ or ‘maybe.’ We can hope in those things. But the peace that comes from prayer comes not in the prayers that are answered but in a heart submitted to the perfect power of God. That’s the best place to be… Right?
This entire time I’ve been quoting [my wife] Rachel, that prayer is a marathon, not a sprint. Time for my history nerd again. Do you know where the word “marathon” comes from? Awesome story!
Legend says that the word “marathon” actually comes from an ancient battle between the ancient Greeks and the ancient Persians in the first Persian war. And it’s actually from the Battle of Marathon. In the Battle of Marathon, the Greeks defeated the Persians in an epic battle, and they want to go tell the people in Athens, the capital city, that they’ve won. So, the legend says, they sent a runner. That runner ran 26 miles, so the legend says, and the marathon was born. But there’s more to it than that. The legend also says that when the runner finally got to Athens, he stood in front of the council of Athens and he defiantly yelled “Nike!” and then died. That’s what the legend says. That’s not me. Was he doing like a sport’s shoe commercial? ‘Dude, these kicks are great for running…!’ No! Of course not. Church, what does “Nike” translate to in English? Victory!
Church, can’t we say the same? Yes, prayer is a marathon, but for the soul united to Christ, it is a marathon with one end. Victory! Victory! Victory! The same discipline of prayer through which you first called on Christ in the darkness for your salvation is the same discipline that leads you victoriously to eternity with your Father. Failing to pray is failing to utilize the power which started your walk with Christ. If we began this marathon that we call ‘life,’ the Christian life with prayer, why do we think we could continue without it? So pray, Saylorville Church! A prayer that battles is
Proactive, it’s
Reactive, it’s
Advocating… and it always
But the question for some of you this morning is, have you yielded? The Bible says in
Proverbs 28:9,
“He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
Have you turned from the law? Have you sinned? Have you ever done anything that goes against God’s standard, which is perfection? You must be perfect, because God is holy and just. I’ve sinned. Scripture says
Romans 3:23
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Friends, we’re all sinners. Left to our own devices, no one could come before God in prayer and no one could trust in his power against Satan. But there’s Good News! The Gospel says that…
Romans 6:23
“God demonstrates his own love towards us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
You see, the entire Christian life starts with a yielding prayer. Who are you yielding to? You’re yielding to Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life. Some of you who are joining us today, you’ve never yielded like that. You see, your sin, scripture says, naturally separates you from God. And it’s a gulf you can never get across. You would have to be perfect your entire life to meet God’s standard. But when Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled that for you. He actually paid your debt. He took your sins and He gave you His righteousness, His relationship with the Father, His intimacy in prayer. What are you trusting in today for your salvation? Anything else besides Christ alone keeps you separated from God and it makes your prayer life useless. Without Christ, you’re defenseless. You’re still at the mercy of Satan. You’re still a slave to your sin, and many of you know it. Friends, be free of it. Yield to Christ today. Do it right now if you have to. Admit that you can’t fight Satan or your sin on your own. Turn from your sins and accept Him as both the Lord and the Savior of your life. Then, not only will He save you for eternity, it’ll give you a prayer life that truly battles, and you’ll have an open dialogue with God Himself.
Let’s pray. Father God, we’re powerless before this multitude that is arrayed against us. And we don’t know what to do. But our eyes are on you. God, I pray that you might make Saylorville Church a church that battles in their prayer life. Help us have prayers of thanksgiving unceasingly. Help us advocate for one another, and help us finally just yield to Your will and Your power in our life. And Lord, I pray for those who have never yielded. God, they’re separated from you. And they’re dead in their sins. But Jesus, You came and died on the cross and rose again, Lord, that they might not only spend eternity in heaven, but that they might have an abundant prayer life. So Lord, I pray that You might work a great work in a way that only You can do. Lord we thank You for this time. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.


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