Prayer: Communicating With Headquarters
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” – Ephesians 6:18-20
On October 25, 1983, President Reagan order an invasion of the inland nation of Grenada. After a series of coups disrupted the government, the US went in to restore order and rescue some six hundred American medical students. Navy SEALs were sent in to rescue the governor-general and his family. Trapped inside the mansion by Cuban and Grenadan forces, their radio ran out of battery power. The SEAL commander used the mansion’s landline to call the United States Special Operations Command in Florida who confirmed and transferred the request for support to operational headquarters. An AC-130 was sent in an destroyed enemy troops and an armored personal carrier. This bought the SEALs enough time to await rescue by the marines.
In a similar incident an Army paratrooper called his wife at Fort Bragg to request support from the Navy. Communications were down so he used his ATT calling-card. The request made it back to the Navy who provided an air strike.
Not only did the stories above motivate the military to deal with important communication issues during battle, it demonstrates the indispensable value of good communications in order to achieve victory. Christians have the best communications system for fighting Satan. The Christian soldier can pray straight to the Heavenly Headquarters and speak to the commander and chief anytime from any where.
The Christian Soldier’s Prayer
Before going to war, Israel consulted the Lord (Jg. 1:1; 20:27,28). No soldier should think himself prepared to face the enemy without first consulting headquarters. Christians are not ready until they have established and are prepared to maintain the lines of communication with God in prayer.
Notice the various terms for prayer. In one form or another, “prayer” occurs four times in verse eighteen and once in verse twenty. Prayer is not a piece of armor but a another means to stand and fight. John Bunyan called this weapon “All-Prayer”. Prayer is the admission that armor alone does not make a good soldier.
Constantly in Communication with Headquarters – praying always
The first term translated prayer in the text is proseuche which is the general Greek word for prayer. Prayers in general are to be a constant part of the Christian soldiers routine. Jesus taught His disciples “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Christians are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Faithful saints are to be “continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
Variety – with all prayer
“All prayer” implies prayer in all the specific types: confession, adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. Praying is to be done in its variety of forms, variety of postures, and variety of places, even in various circumstances. Jonah prayed while in the belly of a great sea creature. One elderly Christian was in the habit of praying in all situations. While renewing his drivers license he told is driving instructor to buck and bow in prayer because he always said a prayer before he put the car in gear.
Specifically for Supplies – and supplication
Supplication means praying for supplies from God’s Heavenly Warehouse. Jesus told His disciples, “if you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). In fighting this spiritual warfare, prayer to requisition supplies for the Captain of our salvation is essential to our daily survival. Christians need to be supplied with wisdom (Js. 1:5). As in any battle, the best of soldiers can find themselves overwhelmed and outnumbered and need to call for reinforcements. In this world where so many have been overcome by sin and need to be rescued by soldiers of Christ, Jesus commands us to prayer for reinforcements. One says when Jesus “saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Mt. 9:36-38). Even Jesus made supplications for Peter that he might be delivered from his temptations. Prayer is also a necessity for those seeking to avoid temptations. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Mt. 6:13). Unlike real war, we need to avoid the enemy when possible. A driver tucked this note under the windshield wiper of his automobile. “I’ve circled the block for twenty minutes. I’m late for an appointment, and if I don’t park here I’ll lose my job. ‘Forgive us our trespasses.'” When he came back he found a parking ticket and this note: “I’ve circled the block for twenty years, and if I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. ‘Lead us not into temptation.'”
Heavenly Reinforcement – in the Spirit
Praying in the Spirit has nothing to do with speaking in tongues. The Spirit is our helper when we pray. The Spirit gives us confidence when we pray (Rom. 8:15,16). “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26,27).
Vigilantly on Guard Duty – with all perseverance
While on guard duty, a soldier needs to be watchful or vigilant so he can call out when the enemy threatens. When Nehemiah was repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and the enemy was trying to stop the work, Nehemiah defeated the enemy by watching and praying. ‘Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night” (Neh. 4:9). The Bible often couples the command to pray with the need for watchfulness (Luke 18:1; Rom. 12:12; 1 Cor. 16:13; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Peter. 5:8). Jesus was disappointed in His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?’” (Matt. 26:40).
Persistently – with all perseverance
In Christ parable of the Persistent Widow, He reminds us of the need to keep on persevering in prayer. He prayed on the cross (Lk. 23:34,46); the final battle from which He arose victoriously. Even Daniel prayed for twenty-one days before the answer arrived.
Satan loves to disrupt our lines of communication to Heaven by injecting evil thought for our minds to battle or wandering thoughts. How often our prayers start out strong and are turn into a meandering daydream. You pray for help with your broken down car. This reminds you of the need to go by and pick of flowers on the way to the hospital to see sister Bonnie. Flowers remind you of the need to water the back yard. Which in turn reminds you of the gate that was left open when working on the car and the dog ran away. To counter this problem try praying out loud. Remember, prayer is work and prayer is like a muscle. For your prayer life to grow stronger, one must work out and exercise it frequently.
Intercessory For Fellow-Soldiers – an supplication for all saints
Finally, Paul commands us to practice “persevering intercession on behalf of all his comrades in the fight” (Beare 746). If we were going to war, we would not pray just for ourselves, but for the whole army. As members of an army, believers must manifest a concern for all who are fighting along with them. Remember to be specific in requests for your fellow-soldiers. Often a brother merely generalizes this by praying: “We pray for all those for whom it is our duty to pray”. Instead, in our private prayers, we make requests concerning jobs, health, salvation, relationships, housing, vehicles, spouses, children, finances, vacations, churches, Sunday school classes, etc. We are all in this battle against Satan. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:9). Samuel considered it a sin against God if he ceased prayer for his fellow Israelites (1 Sam. 12:23). Perhaps, a prayer list for others will help?
The thought of Christians praying for one another leads the apostle to think of his needs for prayer as well (Eph. 6:19,20). Paul knew that Satan and his legions tremble when they see even the Christian novice kneeling in prayer.
“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”
Put on the gospel armor,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls, or danger
Be never wanting there.
— Daniel R. Vess