When I do not pray I cannot overcome

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The second time and I believe it is the last time Joshua made a mistake in not praying before making a decision came when the Gibeonites came up with a plan. What a call to me when I even think about neglecting to pray. I can be so easily deceived and make wrong decisions. Then when I do not pray and fail, then those who I am responsible to and for, fail also.

The Israelites accepted some food from them, but did not consult the Lord about it. – Joshua 9:14  GNT

It is in my decision not to pray and walk through the word of God that  I am deceived by the evil one.

Here is a great prayer that shows the difference. It starts with a prayer for deliverance.

Save me, Lord, from evildoers;
    keep me safe from violent people.
They are always plotting evil,
    always stirring up quarrels.
Their tongues are like deadly snakes;
    their words are like a cobra’s poison. – Psalm 140:1-3  GNT

 “The persecuted man turns to God in prayer; he could not do a wiser thing. Who can meet the evil man and defeat him save Jehovah himself, whose infinite goodness is more than a match for all the evil in the universe?” – Spurgeon

Then moves to a prayer for preservation.

Protect me, Lord, from the power of the wicked;
    keep me safe from violent people
    who plot my downfall.
The proud have set a trap for me;
    they have laid their snares,
    and along the path they have set traps to catch me. – Psalm 140:4-5  GNT

“The ‘wicked’ may arrogantly desire, plan, and execute; but the Master of the universe cannot tolerate anarchy for long. To this end the plea changes into an imprecatory prayer.” – VanGemeren

There is a time of acknowledging that I am praying to the God of strength and salvation.

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
Hear my cry for help, Lord!
My Sovereign Lord, my strong defender,
you have protected me in battle.
Lord, don’t give the wicked what they want;
don’t let their plots succeed. – Psalm 140:6-8  GNT

When I pray, asking God to work for me and against those who desire to work evil is important.

In fact, I am encouraged to acknowledge the presence of those evil ones and pray specifically against them.

Don’t let my enemies be victorious;[b]
make their threats against me fall back on them.
May red-hot coals fall on them;
may they be thrown into a pit and never get out.
May those who accuse others falsely not succeed;
may evil overtake violent people and destroy them. – Psalm 140:9-11  GNT

This is a prayer of a heart poured out entrusting the punishment to God in heaven rather than taking it in my own hands.

It is a prayer for simple justice – for the evil they give, may they receive the same evil back. This is not evil for evil, this is like asking God to give us a cover and when the curese comes against us, it bounces off and returns back to the the one cursing.

The idea of course is that when they experience the power of their own curse in their lives that they would be destroyed and overthrown.

The prayer at the end is one of confidence in God being victorious.

Lord, I know that you defend the cause of the poor
    and the rights of the needy.
The righteous will praise you indeed;
    they will live in your presence. – Psalm 140:12-13  GNT

“At the time of the intervention and vindication, ‘the righteous’…will alter their prayers for deliverance…to songs of triumph.” – VanGemeren

I think the ability to be this courageous in prayer comes from a repentant heart.

A noise is heard on the hilltops:
    it is the people of Israel crying and pleading
    because they have lived sinful lives
    and have forgotten the Lord their God.
Return, all of you who have turned away from the Lord;
    he will heal you and make you faithful. – Jeremiah 3:21-22  GNT

The idea of prayer against evil people should translate to spiritual warfare as well.

When they returned to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son! He is an epileptic and has such terrible attacks that he often falls in the fire or into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” – Mathew 17:14-16  GNT

“It is easy to feel Christian in the moment of prayer and meditation; it is easy to feel close to God when the world is shut out. But that is not religion – that is escapism. Real religion is to rise from our knees before God to meet men and the problems of the human situation.” – Barclay

It was because you do not have enough faith,” answered Jesus. “I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything!” But only prayer and fasting can drive this kind out; nothing else can – Matthew 17:17-21  GNT

“There are some things which are obtained by a stronger faith, and by more fervent and importunate prayers, than others are. A mercy sometimes seems to come to out of the hand of God with more difficulty, and wrestling for it.” – Poole

There was no point in blaming the boy or his father or the demon, though the demon was strong and had been there long. The fault lay in the disciples. “When the ministers of the Gospel find their endeavours, with respect to some places or persons, ineffectual, they should come, by private prayer, to Christ, humble themselves before him, and beg to be informed whether some evil in themselves have not been the cause of the unfruitfulness of their labours.” – Clarke

I think that I show my faith in and reliance on God when I pray and fast. Prayer is that display with my occupation and my dependence on Jesus.

To pray with a sense of fervency brings a confidence that God will answer my prayer. How can I be moved with a dispassionate one where I give every indication that I am presenting to God an issue that I care little or nothing about?

If prayer and fasting demonstrates that I am willing to identify with the afflicted individual, and shows my regard of the strength of the demonic world as well as my dependence on God, and if it displays my incredible desire to fight and sacrifice for the sake of deliverance, then it all matters.

“He that would overcome the devil in certain instances must first overcome heaven by prayer, and conquer himself by self-denial.” – Spurgeon

For the ways he gives and sustains our physical life. For making us in his image, capable of knowing, loving, serving, enjoying him and other relationships; for preserving our lives thus far— bringing us through injuries and sicknesses so that we are alive today; for the supports and comforts that make our lives enjoyable, pleasant, and bearable; for the successes we have received, goals attained, and for the blessings we weren’t wise enough or capable of achieving but which he sent anyway. For the ways he gives and sustains our spiritual life. For the plan of salvation itself, and how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planned it from the deeps of eternity; for Christ emptying himself of his glory for us; for his teaching and character that reveal to us the beauty of holiness; for Jesus’ death on our behalf, paying for our sins, fulfilling all the requirements, bringing us into a new covenant relationship with God through grace; for the Holy Spirit, for his power and presence in our lives enabling us to understand God’s truth, know his love and glory, be conformed to Christ’s character, and serve others with his gifts; for the Word of God, the Scripture— for its wisdom and truth, and its power; for the church, its congregations and leaders, who have shaped and formed us, who have helped us grow in faith, hope, and love; for the Christian friends who have given us so much; for the assurance of our salvation, that we can rest in the hope of future resurrection and living with him forever; for being able to know that, no matter what, everything will be all right. – Timothy Keller

Prayer for spiritual needs are answered

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Another great Psalm that leads us to prayer is Psalm 79. It starts with lament, moves into supplication and then there is prayer for vindication, forgiveness and reprisal and finally ending in praise for God responding.

Lord, will you be angry with us forever?
    Will your anger continue to burn like fire? – Psalm 79:5 GNT

I love that the writer did not ask why there was trouble but rather the question of how long must they suffer. It is the question that moved them from lament to prayer.

Turn your anger on the nations that do not worship you,
    on the people who do not pray to you. – Psalm 79:6 GNT

Doesn’t this make sense – why pick on me? Why not the ones who are really out of line? Hear us the prayerful, and mess around with the prayerless.

Do not punish us for the sins of our ancestors.
    Have mercy on us now;
    we have lost all hope. – Psalm 79:8 GNT

The urgency of the prayer was the acknowledgment that there were generational sins involved. I need to make this my prayer and make it a continual prayer. 

The concept of former iniquities suggests a principle. “Sins accumulate against nations. Generations lay up stores of transgressions to be visited upon their successors; hence this urgent prayer.” – Spurgeon

The Book of Common Prayer has this verse sounding like this –

O remember not our old sins, but have mercy upon us, and that soon; for we are come to great misery.”

I have never called on God in regards to His honour, but I like it when I read this prayer here. One day I might have too.

Help us, O God, and save us;
    rescue us and forgive our sins
    for the sake of your own honor. – Psalm 79:9 GNT

I will try to wisely use it understanding it will be my greatest weapon when I am in battle with the evil one. In fact, is not the name and honour of God the mightiest weapon I have when it comes to prayer?

“Prayer is therefore here made by the faithful, that God, not to gratify any vindictive spirit of theirs, but to vindicate his own attributes, would break the teeth of the oppressor, and work a public and glorious salvation for his chosen.” – Horne

There is something about God watching over me that gives me joy in the midst of my troubles.

I watch over it and water it continually. I guard it night and day so that no one will harm it. – Isaiah 27:3 GNT

In fact this idea comes from Jesus teaching on delivering me from evil and I know He hears for His is the power. For this reason I have courage when I pray today.

We have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that he hears us if we ask him for anything that is according to his will. He hears us whenever we ask him; and since we know this is true, we know also that he gives us what we ask from him. – 1 John 5:14-15 GNT

My courage comes from the assurance of eternal life. I am not sure that one could pray according to the will of God except that they would be in a place where they have already prayed asking God to save them from their sins.

THE PROMISE: WHEN WE PRAY, GOD HEARS US AND WE HAVE THE REQUESTS THAT WE ASK OF HIM

Isn’t this why prayer is not optional – it is absolutely essential for if I do not pray then I am not living by faith in God. And if I do not pray, I am trusting in myself, which is no difference to what the world is doing.

  • This promise means I can have courage when I approach God in prayer
  • This promise means I come into His presence when I pray
  • This promise means I can ask anything according to His will and He will hear me
  • This promise means that I know He hears me and I will receive from Him the requests that I have asked from Him

Here is a truth I know to be real – I must ask according to God’s will. Only when I do not know God am I not seeking God’s will in prayer. Prayer is not talking God into giving me what I want, it is rather me submitting my will to His.

Maybe the big question is, how do I determine what God’s will is? And the next difficulty to overcome is how can I pray according to God’s will when His ways are not even my ways – I am thinking in ways that make sense to me. Ask John when it came to the death of his brother James. James died, yet Peter was rescued from the same fate. Notice Jesus did not pray that Peter would be able to resist the evil one’s attack, as I would have, He prayed rather that Peter’s faith would not fail and that he would be restored.

Prayer is what I do even when I do not understand God’s will or ways. I should be praying for God to give life to whose who are separated from Him.

If you see a believer commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray to God, who will give that person life. This applies to those whose sins do not lead to death. But there is sin which leads to death, and I do not say that you should pray to God about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which does not lead to death. – 1 John 5:16-17 GNT

Prayer is essential in the restoration process.

…thou must in thy meditation quicken thy own heart. Enter into a serious debate with it. Plead with it in the most moving and affecting language, and urge it with the most powerful and weighty arguments. It is what holy men of God have practiced in all ages. Thus David: ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.’ And again; ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul! and forget not all his benefits!’ This soliloquy is to be made use of according to the several affections of the soul, and according to its several necessities. It is a preaching to one’s self; for as every good master or father of a family is a good preacher to his own family, so every good Christian is a good preacher to his own soul. – Richard Baxter