The key to waging spiritual battles to bring God’s kingdom to earth is prayer. That may sound easy or simple, but effective prayer often is neither. The kind of prayer needed to drive out the enemy is not muttering a quick liturgy we once learned as a child, or uttering a generic “God bless so-and-so.” This kind of prayer can feel like it is in the trenches, with tough opposition. This prayer involves strategic agreement between earth and heaven.
After instructing believers to put on the armor of God, and detailing what each piece signifies, Paul says this: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18 – NASB).18
Here are the three main directives:
The word used in the Greek for “at all times” in this verse is kairos, meaning a definitive or opportune moment. Kairos speaks not of our earthly measured time of seconds and minutes and such, but of appointed divine moments. The concept of this whole passage is that our spirits are to be in constant communion with Heaven and therefore vigilant to divine prayer appointments that God has set for us. These kairos times of prayer might be during our devotions, or they may be in the office as we’re about to pick up the telephone. The Lord may awaken us from sleep to pray for someone or a situation, or in an instant lay something strongly on our hearts while we’re at the computer.
We need to be alert so as not to miss these kairos opportunities of partnering with God in prayer to see His kingdom come. I have learned that when I mentally say “God, I’ll pray for that person You’ve just brought to mind a little later, but right now I want to relax” – that usually doesn’t work very well. I forget to pray later, or when I do, the same measure of power isn’t there in the prayer. However, when I heed the sudden call to pray, even though it might be for a minute or two, He always gives strategic utterance for that particular situation.
At the beginning of this spiritual warfare study, we discussed the three components of man – spirit, soul, and body and how man is a triune being, created in the image of a triune God. As part of that teaching, it was observed that many Christians need to move from the soulish (intellectual and emotional) realm and begin accessing the spiritual realm in their interaction with God.
Jesus told the woman at the well, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 – NASB). Jude instructs disciples living in the last days to pray in the Spirit as well (v. 20). We need to listen to and talk with God in our spirits in order to be able to communicate effectively with Him. Paul said, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 – NIV).
It is the Holy Spirit Himself by Whom we pray when we interact with God when we move from soulish prayers to spiritual prayers. Paul said, “the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-17 – NASB).
You see, it is really the Holy Spirit who prays with us and for us, and Who tells us what to pray when we pray in the Spirit. These are the prayers that knock down walls and thwart evil and unlock the hearts of rebellious mankind. These are perfect prayers – unselfish, in alignment with God, and full of power.
Praying in tongues is part of praying in the spirit. It is a wonderful way that God has equipped His church to access the heavenly realm and also build up our faith. We will cover that topic in a future post.
Another means to really tune in to Heaven – and go deeper and faster in the Christian walk – is fasting. Fasting is probably the most neglected Christian discipline, and also one of the most powerful. We will discuss this soon.
The third directive in Ephesians 6:18 is “pray perseveringly.” Perseverance is defined as not giving up in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success; steadfastness. How many of us are good at that in our prayer life? How often do we give up after circumstances disappoint us? (It is interesting to note that a google graph of the word “perseverance” shows a steady drop in the use of the word since roughly the onset of the 20th century, but a revival of it beginning in the last decade). If we live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) then we know not to trust what our eyes see. Disappointment, no matter how large, is not the end of the story. We take authority over the areas that God has said are defeated by the cross.
Sometimes I picture sin or spiritual darkness over a situation or person as a giant spider web in which they’re entangled. It can feel like we pray and pray for something and nothing happens – or the situation gets worse. But in reality, what is happening in the heavenly realm is that threads of the web are being cut apart, one by one with each prayer. We never know which of our prayers is going to be the one that breaks the final bond and sets the person free. That is why perseverance is so critical!
Notice that the directive to pray at all times in the spirit follows putting on the armor of God. Different Bible teachers have differing views on how and when to apply the armor of God. One intercessor I know says she puts on her armor every morning before she prays. One Bible teacher said, “I never take my armor off” and another similarly said, “Your armor doesn’t disappear when you go to bed,” etc. However, for myself, there are specific times and situations – regularly, in fact – when the Spirit is nudging me to put on my spiritual armor. Times when I meditate on each piece that represents Christ, then verbally apply it to my person. While we don’t take off our spiritual armor, it can hang a little crooked from taking daily beatings out in the world!