Necessity of prayer


I understand the concept of war, even spiritual warfare, but I can say that I have truly missed understood why war matters. When Joshua went to war against the people of Canaan, the people experienced and learned that real power was not in the multitude or in the bravery or in the skill of its fighting men. It was solely in the might of God. The tapping into that might, and the possession of that power only took place when they were faithful to Him. Once Joshua left the scene, here is what they faced.

So then, the Lord left some nations in the land to test the Israelites who had not been through the wars in Canaan. He did this only in order to teach each generation of Israelites about war, especially those who had never been in battle before. They were to be a test for Israel, to find out whether or not the Israelites would obey the commands that the Lord had given their ancestors through Moses. – Judges 3:1-2,4  GNT

There was a generation that did not understand war and the only way for them to understand it was for them to experience it. Necessity teaches me to pray. There was distress in the land with these foreign nations still living among them and God used that in order to bring them back to focussing on Him. If anyone is going to learn to war then at the same time they would be learning to keep the commandments of God. Both were necessary. Blessings come when I listen to the voice of the Lord. Conflicts come to purify my soul and to ensure the kingdom of God is shared and is growing here on earth.

We have three needs – the need for wisdom to know our own hearts and Savior Christ better… the need for watchfulness to even die rather than yield one step to sin… and the need to be ever at war. Not to acknowledge this is the height of madness. We are to be killing sin or sin will be killing us. Owen offers his readers the big picture – he was not merely interested in seeing the believer abstain from a particular sin (or sins); for him, the whole goal of the Christian life was one of Christlikeness, which is only possible by intimately knowing Christ as He is revealed in the gospel.

To mortify a sin is not to utterly kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at, but this is not (in this life) to be accomplished. There is no man that truly sets himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart or life. He would so kill it that it should never move nor stir any more, cry or call, seduce or tempt, to eternity. Its complete eradication is the thing aimed at. Though there may be a wonderful success and eminency of victory against any particular sin, so that a man may have almost constant triumph over it, yet an utter killing and destruct- tion of it, that it should no longer exist, is not a possible condition in this life – as such, we are to “fight to the end!” This Paul assures us of: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (Phil 3:12). He was a choice saint, a pattern  for believers in faith and love and all the fruits of the Spirit, yet he had not “attained,” nor was he “perfect” (v. 15), but was “following after” – he still had a vile body like we have, that will be fully changed by the great power of Christ on the last day (v. 21). – John Owen


Purposeful prayer


I am fascinated by the study of war and the strategic thought behind what makes a good leader in times of engagement. I find I can apply so much to my own leadership to the teams I find leading. So when I read this, I can’t say that I ever looked to the Bible to give advice of this nature.

 Before you start fighting, a priest is to come forward and say to the army, Men of Israel, listen! Today you are going into battle. Do not be afraid of your enemies or lose courage or panic. The Lord your God is going with you, and he will give you victory.’ – Deuteronomy 20:2-4  GNT

I believe they call this – the anointed of the war. The person who was responsible to pray for them – the priest – was called to animate the people. Are not the best encouragers those who believe in the promises of God made to the prayer of faith? It is like an esteemed chaplain in today’s army – not called only to pray, but to preach to them – to give them advice as to what may hinder their success and how to raise their hopes.

The trap of purposelessness faces all of us from time to time. Look how we are instructed to pray and honest prayer.

Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
    and he saved them from their distress. – Psalm 107:13  GNT

I pray differently than many others but I love the fact that God hears us all – the whispers and the screams.

Unfortunately, I see too many of us who bother not to seek God and to pray about their needs and problems.

Keep all your magic spells and charms;
    you have used them since you were young.
Perhaps they will be of some help to you;
    perhaps you can frighten your enemies. – Isaiah 47:12  GNT

It is a sarcastic comment but what else would one do if they have lost their purpose and have forgotten that prayer matters.

“No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter who does not in some measure behold it here by faith.”
― John Owen, The Glory Of Christ