You may have thought my title was in reference to current events happening in our world today – and in a way it is. But it is actually looking at what is behind those events and where this is ultimately all headed, that has prompted me to write this post.
As a follower of Jesus, I know “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.” (Ephesians 6:12) I have not been a stranger to what is commonly called “spiritual warfare” in my life, but moving here and totally making myself available for God to use me in whatever ways He has seen fit, has really taken things to a whole new level! I have briefly alluded to some of this at times, but in truth, my life behind the scenes here can pretty much be summed up as a constant “game on!”
Recently, I felt prompted to pick up and begin re-reading one of the few books I brought with me that I started a few years ago. It is actually a recent compilation of some older writings (nearly 100 years!) by an amazing, faithful man of God named E. M. Bounds. It is incredible how his address towards the church of his time is so very relevant for us today! God has used the writings of a whole host of His wonderful followers to disciple me throughout my lifetime and He always seems to bring just what I need when I need it – and this time is no exception.
But I believe these truths are very relevant for all who would endeavor to follow Him through the days ahead – days that are growing increasingly darker and will continue to do so until “the day dawns and the morning star rises in (our) hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) Many will stop reading at this point (if they haven’t already), but I felt this was an important message to pass on at this time for “those who have ears to hear” – Mr. Bounds echos many of the truths I have long believed and experienced in my life, but he says them much more eloquently than I ever could. Below are just a few excerpts out of a chapter entitled “Prayer and Vigilance”:
It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest. It is a battle, moreover, waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men. The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing. It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt. It entails effort, wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror. It is no primrose path, no rose-scented dalliance. From start to finish, it is war.
What a misconception many people have of the Christian life! How little the average church member appears to know of the character of the conflict and of its demands upon him! How ignorant he seems to be of the enemies he must encounter, if he engage to serve God faithfully and so succeed in getting to heaven and receive the crown of life! He seems scarcely to realize that the world, the flesh and the devil will oppose his onward march and will defeat him utterly; unless he give himself to constant vigilance and unceasing prayer.
The Christian solder wrestles not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places. Or, as the scriptural margin reads, “wicked spirits in high places.” What a fearful array of forces are set against him who would make his way through the wilderness of this world to the portals of the celestial city! It is no surprise, therefore, to find Paul, who understood the character of the Christian life so well, and who was so thoroughly informed as to the malignity and number of the foes which the disciple of the Lord must encounter, carefully and plainly urging him to “put on the whole armor of God,” and “to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Wise with a great wisdom, would the present generation be if all professors of our faith could be induced to realize this all-important and vital truth, which is so absolutely indispensable to a successful Christian life.
It is just at this point in much present-day Christian profession, that one may find its greatest defect. There is little, or nothing, of the soldier element in it. The discipline, self-denial, spirit of hardship, determination, so prominent in and belonging to the military life, are, one and all, largely wanting. Yet the Christian life is warfare, all the way.
It is all important and absolutely essential to victory, that prayer should so impregnate the life that every breath will be a petition, every sigh a supplication. The Christian soldier must needs be always fighting. He should, of sheer necessity, be always praying.
When will Christians more thoroughly learn the twofold lesson, that they are called to a great warfare, and that in order to get the victory they must give themselves to non-sleeping watchfulness and unceasing prayer? “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary, the devil, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”
God’s church is a militant host. Its warfare is with unseen forces of evil. God’s people compose an army fighting to establish His kingdom in the earth. Their aim is to destroy the sovereignty of Satan and over its ruins erect the kingdom of God, which is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
The entire life of a Christian soldier – its being, intention, implication, and action – are all dependent on its being a life of prayer. Without prayer – no matter what else he has – the Christian soldier’s life will be feeble and ineffective, and constitute him an easy prey for his spiritual enemies.
I hope if you have read this far, this was an encouraging reminder of the laser sharp focus needed for the days ahead. Many years ago, the Lord really got my attention when I read the following verse. I realized that there are actually very few things that Jesus Himself told us to pray, but this was one of them and I figured that must make it pretty important. So I began praying this verse daily and I believe it is one of the reasons I’ve ended up where I am. Right after He finished giving a long description of the events that would happen leading up to His return, Jesus said:
“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)