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

Prayers in vain or answered

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I think that God was watching the leadership of Moses all along. He noticed his strengths and his weaknesses. God has his back throughout his entire life. There was only one time where God could not make his weakness go away and Moses had to face the consequences.

But the Lord reprimanded Moses and Aaron. He said, “Because you did not have enough faith to acknowledge my holy power before the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land that I promised to give them.” – Numbers 20:12 GNT
God points out that it was Moses’ lack of faith in acknowledging God’s power before the people of Israel that was his downfall. It almost sounds like he had blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
How many times do I feel my prayers are said in vain only because I simply do not trust Him? I am told to keep praying and I believe God wants me to come to him, even asking for the same thing over and over again, the difference being how I present these to Him. Am I praying a prayer of faith – if not, and I find myself not trusting Him and therefore repeating the same prayer in a way to build up that faith or trust, maybe I should revisit what prayer is.

I am encouraged again by the praying of David and how he repeats himself but he does so in complete faith and trust in God. People, like Saul, were cruel to David and he wanted them punished.

Where the psalms indicate that they want bad things to happen to people, they are called Psalms of Imprecation – a spoken curse. These are hard for me to understand. A key note for all of us to understand is that each psalm, when they are using this prayer, are asking God to do the punishing – not us.

Here is such a psalm.

Break the teeth of these fierce lions, O God.
May they disappear like water draining away;
    may they be crushed like weeds on a path.[c]
May they be like snails that dissolve into slime;
    may they be like a baby born dead that never sees the light.
Before they know it, they are cut down like weeds;
    in his fierce anger God will blow them away
    while they are still living.[d]

The righteous will be glad when they see sinners punished;
    they will wade through the blood of the wicked. – Psalm 58:6-10 GNT 

By acknowledging the fact that vengeance belongs to God alone, he does not take revenge himself, but he prays that God will avenge him. If you notice these curses, it is understood that the execution of these could only come from the hand of God. It is God who is called on to activate the appropriate consequences.

Going forward to another psalm we see the same thing again. In this case the enemies are those who are trying to kill David.

Save me from my enemies, my God;
    protect me from those who attack me!
Save me from those evil people;
    rescue me from those murderers!

Look! They are waiting to kill me;
cruel people are gathering against me.
It is not because of any sin or wrong I have done,
nor because of any fault of mine, O Lord,
that they hurry to their places. – Psalm 59:1-4 GNT

David is not saying he is sinless, only acknowledging that God is the one who will address him of his sin and that he is not in need of any other stepping into the role of judge, jury and executioner especially if they are lying manipulators.

Hear what he prays for against them.

Rise, Lord God Almighty, and come to my aid;
    see for yourself, God of Israel!
Wake up and punish the heathen;
    show no mercy to evil traitors!

destroy them in your anger;
    destroy them completely.
Then everyone will know that God rules in Israel,
    that his rule extends over all the earth. – Psalm 59:5,13 GNT

What does my prayer look like when I am praying for my enemies? Is the Lord answering my prayer? I love the praise that is found in between all the anger.

But you laugh at them, Lord;
    you mock all the heathen.
I have confidence in your strength;
    you are my refuge, O God.
My God loves me and will come to me;
    he will let me see my enemies defeated.

Do not kill them, O God, or my people may forget.

Scatter them by your strength and defeat them,
O Lord, our protector.

But I will sing about your strength;
every morning I will sing aloud of your constant love.
You have been a refuge for me,
a shelter in my time of trouble.
I will praise you, my defender.
My refuge is God,
the God who loves me. – Psalm 59:8-11, 16-17 GNT

I pray that I too can magnify God throughout my prayer walk and watch Him answer my requests.

It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fulness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints. – Westminster Larger Catechism