Engage | Revolt
Monday— Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called… 1 Timothy 6:12
Danae shrugged one shoulder and hit Pause on her video game. “I dunno why I can’t seem to make it to church,” she mumbled. “Just lazy, I guess.” Marci frowned at her friend. “Listen Nerd, I care about you, okay? I see you slipping away from Jesus and I’m fighting to get you back. Don’t you see you’re letting your enemy win? You’re not too lazy to fight virtual enemies all day. You fight about politics on Twitter. You fight with your mom all the time. So why can’t you fight for your faith?”
Marci’s right. Danae’s laziness was going to cost her greatly. She blamed her lack of spiritual participation on laziness, but that wasn’t entirely true. She was not too lazy to fight for what she wanted, so her laziness was selective. She was only lazy about the things that ranked lower on her priority list. What does that say to the Lord when we are too lazy to pursue Him? We pursue friendships, social media, TV shows, money, and hobbies but then claim we’re too tired or lazy to pray, read the Bible, or go to church. What should that tell us about ourselves? This world is a battleground, not a playground. Living for Jesus means we must continually fight our battles through prayer, personal conviction, and actions. We only win if we fight.
Final Thought: What excuses keep you from fighting for your faith, your values, and the souls of lost people?
Prayer: Father, I need to start fighting my battles on my knees, not on social media. It’s easier to fight WITH other people than to fight FOR them in prayer. But I will lose the war if I don’t fight. What do you want me to change first? In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18
“You have to speak in tongues,” says one camp. “You have to have a prayer list,” says another. “You have to be praying all day long,” say some. People have different ideas about what it means to “pray in the Spirit,” but what if they’re all right and all wrong at the same time? Most likely what Paul meant when he penned those words was that prayer is more than verbalizing a list of items we’d like God to take care of. Prayer is not rattling off a set of instructions and then trying to make those things happen if God doesn’t. The kind of praying Paul did, and the kind we must do, was more like waging war.
Praying in the Spirit means we have intentionally lifted up our own spirits to God to connect with His Spirit. The words that come out of our mouths are secondary to the communication happening within our hearts. Romans 8:26 says that when we pray in the Spirit, God Himself intervenes for us and translates those deep longings into something He can work with. He’s not interested in our flippant words tossed skyward, but He loves it when we pray in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit can include requests, thanksgiving, confession of sin, claiming promises, interceding for other believers, pleading for help, and asking for the salvation of our friends and family. “Walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:19,25) means we’re praying in the Spirit much of the time. Satan is not challenged by our intellects, our knowledge, or our wit. But Christians praying in the Spirit can defeat him.
Final Thought: Evaluate your prayer life. Do you toss words skyward or does your spirit commune with God’s Spirit?
Prayer: Lord, are my prayers reaching you? You don’t care about fancy words or lots of knowledge, but I want to be sure my prayers are ones you can hear. Teach me to pray in the Spirit so I can fight my battles and win. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16
“All we can do is pray.” Have you heard someone say that about an impending crisis? You’ve probably said it yourself. What we think we mean is that we are helpless to do anything but pray. But what we actually mean is that we’ve tried everything else, so might as well try prayer. Sometimes we pray the way we’d play the lottery. It might help, might not, can’t hurt. But the men who penned the Bible saw prayer differently. Paul urged us to always pray and James reminds us that prayer has tremendous power. But that promise comes with some stipulations that might make us feel disqualified. The kind of prayer that gets results comes from a person who is righteous and earnest. But what if we’re neither?
What does it take for our prayers to be heard and answered? Several verses in the Old Testament record times when God told a prophet, “Do not pray for these people…I will not hear their cries.” So God has some requirements for the kinds of prayers He hears. In the Bible, “righteous” means a person whose heart is right with God. It doesn’t mean perfection, because none of us would qualify. But if Jesus is Lord of our lives, that means God took all Jesus’ righteousness and credited it to our account. So because of Jesus, God sees Christians as righteous. “Earnest” means we are not distracted, careless, or irreverent when we pray. We come humbly before Him. When we have faith, clean motives, and a heart to obey, our prayers are powerful.
Final Thought: Before you pray, ask yourself: Is my heart righteous before God and am I earnest in what I’m about to say?
Prayer: Father, am I approaching you with clean motives and a heart that seeks to be righteous? Cleanse me of my sin and change my heart so that you can hear and answer my prayers. I will obey you whatever your answer is. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. Matthew 6:6
The 2015 movie War Room brought this verse to life on the screen. Jesus could have been the director. It’s exactly what He taught His followers about prayer. In Jesus’ day, people were considered spiritual if they shouted eloquent prayers toward the heavens and quoted long scripture passages to impress the illiterate masses. No one could compete with a Pharisaical prayer, but Jesus just rolled His eyes. He and the Father did not listen to such convoluted nonsense. They listened for a child’s whisper in the dead of night, the desperate plea of a mother, humble cries for help, and every request from faithful servants.
Every heart has a war room, but most of them are covered in cobwebs and the doors are rusted shut. Prayer becomes a war room when we clear away the dust and get on our knees. We allow the Holy Spirit to join us as we pray and we listen as He points out sin that needs dealt with. He’s not condemning us; He’s sharpening our weapons. Imagine a soldier going to war with a rusty gun, no helmet, and flip flops. He needs to get his tack together before he can survive or do much damage to the enemy. Prayer is the weapon we wield in order to survive this life and do damage to the kingdom of darkness. We are to seek God in secret and He will reward us openly. When prayer is our first response to every challenge, we have a war room.
Final Thought: Is your war room in good condition to help you win battles?
Prayer: Lord, I want to be dangerous to Satan’s agenda. I want to get my war room in prime condition so that I can win every battle and defeat every temptation Satan throws at me. Help me clear away the cobwebs. I’m entering the war room. Amen.
Friday— If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
“We’re not gonna stop drinking and living together,” Sheila said, “but me and Bobby are praying that we get along better.”
“I hate Muslims, Hispanics, bikers, and Republicans,” Mark said. “But I’ll pray for you about your health issue.”
“Me and my boyfriend are having another baby and we’re praying that this time it’s a girl,” Connie told her friend.
“I love gossip,” Della bragged. “I even like to embellish the prayer chain a little as I pass it on. Makes life more interesting.”
What’s the problem in each of those situations? It’s the same problem that makes some prayers ineffective. We want God’s attention but ONLY in the areas we point out to Him. We expect the Lord of the universe to put on blinders and agree with us about our situation but never deal with us about our sin. Where did we come up with such an idea? Certainly not from the Bible. Read the above verse again. Not only is God under no obligation to grant requests from those unwilling to repent, but those prayers nauseate Him. If we turn our ears away from hearing His commands, God turns His ear away from hearing us. Psalm 68:18 says this about prayer: “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” We cannot engage the Lord through prayer while our actions deny that we even know Him. Prayer is powerful and beneficial, but its purpose is not only personal gain. Prayer is most powerful in freeing us from the sin that makes us unfit for God’s presence.
Final Thought: Does intentional sin reign in your life? Repent of it so that your prayers are not abominable to God.
Prayer: Father, I want to be sure that when I pray, I have your full attention. Please forgive me for the times I cling to sin and try to pray anyway. Search my heart now and cleanse me of my sin. I renounce it and turn away in Jesus’ name. Amen.