In The Midst Of Hard Times - Part 4
Articles - Christian Growth
by Lyn Packer
Someone once posed this question to me – "If the joy of the Lord is our strength, what should our fighting look like?"
New Covenant prayer carries the authority of Christ himself and, as such, is full of peace, rest, joy and laughter, because He is those things, He is joy, peace and rest. It is not heavy or burdensome, nor does it leave you feeling wrung out, tired or full of grief. Why? For two main reasons:
1. It is not just you doing the intercession but Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding with and through you.
2. Because of that, we see and war from their perspective – the battle is already won.
However, when prayer or intercession is approached from an Old Covenant viewpoint it will become legalistic, formulaic, and possibly fueled by the religious spirit that brings people back under law and takes them away from living under grace. This type of prayer carries a burden that is not meant to be carried. It is often tiring, and can leave you feeling wrung out and heavy. It certainly doesn't carry the yoke of Jesus (Matt 11:30), which is light and easy.
When it comes to how we see the devil's ability to win in any conflict - our fight against the devil is not even really a fight and certainly not what we would call a fair fight. Christ has indisputably won and we get to share in and reinforce that victory every time the enemy tries to come against us.
The devil is a defeated foe and we need to be reminded of that again. He has limited access and no authority and we get to plunder his kingdom as we come into agreement with what God is doing, and work with him to see the Kingdom of God released and established in the earth.
We don't pray to break through to Heaven and get God to hear us - we do it because we've already received the victory. We are plundering. Jesus did the work, we get to gather the plunder.
So if we are not called to actually battle principalities, powers and wicked forces, then how do we fight as New Covenant believers?
• We are told that what we bind on earth will be bound in heaven (Matt18:18) but that doesn't refer to us going into the spiritual realms and engaging the enemy there. It simply states a fact – if we bind something here it will have effect there, too.
• We are told in scripture to "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). That hardly sounds like a fight, does it? It sounds from that like we say boo and the devil will run a mile. And that's what it is saying but we don't believe it can be that simple because we have been conditioned to expect a big, hard, long, drawn out fight.
• Timothy was told to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12) so that would appear to say that the good fight and the right way to fight is to use our faith – to trust God and believe him and his promises in the face of everything the devil tries to throw at us.
God tells us to stand, in rest, and trust – but we think that sounds so passive, like we aren't doing anything. But standing in rest and trust is doing something; it is doing something that is effective and very powerful indeed.
Francis Frangipane said, "One of the surest signs to the devil of his own downfall is when the saints of God have absolute peace in the midst of the battle."
Joseph Prince puts it like this, "While it is true that Satan tries to put sickness, depression and strife in our lives, God does not want us to fight the devil in long-drawn battles. God's Word tells us to rest instead. In the spiritual warfare passage in Ephesians 6, the word 'wrestle' appears only once, whereas the word 'stand' appears four times! This means that in spiritual warfare, we are to stand or rest in the victory of Christ. Jesus has already defeated the devil and put us on victory ground. And to help us stand our ground, he has given us his seven-piece armour. So stop trying to defeat a defeated foe. Just put on his armour and rest in his victory!"
Make no mistake, standing firm in the face of the enemy and staying in that place of rest is not passive and it is definitely not weak. It takes more courage to stand in rest and trust than to brandish weapons of our flesh.
So often we see the enemy as having more power than he actually has and we engage him in a fight instead of standing our Christ-won ground. The devil doesn't mind fighting with us in a show of bravado and lies if a skirmish with his forces will keep us in the place of lies and deception and stop us realizing that he is already defeated.
Christ soundly defeated the powers of darkness and the only power that they have now is the power that we give back to them by believing their lies and by giving in to fear of them. Any power that they have in our lives comes from us believing them and surrendering what Christ won for us.
If the fight is not to break through to get God to hear us and answer our prayers, because Jesus broke through on our behalf two thousand years ago, then what is our prayer life for on a personal level this side of the Cross? It is two-fold…
• To bring what God has promised us from the eternal realm into the earthly realm (Matt 6:10; Phil 4:19; Eph 1:3).
• To stop the enemy stealing from us what God has given us. John 6:39 says "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing." As this was true of Jesus, so it is true of us. God does not want us to lose anything of what he has given us. On a non-personal level it is …
• To see people, as individuals, set free from the devil's plans for their lives.
• To bring what God has promised the church corporately from the eternal realm into the earthly realm.
• To stop the enemy stealing from us what God has given us corporately.
That is a huge paradigm shift, a mind transforming moment right there!
We have already been granted healing, on-going health, provision, daily needs – in other words everything pertaining to life and godliness. The devil will try and tell us that God isn't interested, that he doesn't want to give us what we need and that he won't come through, even if we do have faith. Wrong!
God has given us many great promises and some of those relate to his answering our prayers. We are in a war – a war to get us to believe that God is not who he says he is, that he will not do what he has promised and that he is not faithful and good. So we contend, like those of old did. We contend not only for ourselves, personally, but also for those who follow after us.
We are contending on a personal level…
• Not to try and get something that we don't have, but to bring what we do already have in the spiritual realm into the earthly realm.
• And we contend to enforce Christ's victory to protect what he has won for us and given to us, to stop it being stolen from us, and to walk in the fullness of it. And, beyond our personal lives, we contend…
• So that future generations may also walk in that fullness and more.
• To bring into freedom those who are in bondage (unsaved & saved) that they and their descendants may walk in the fullness of what Christ has for them.
Now that is a whole different ball-game! Our prayers release God's power into this realm and our prayers and our battle to rule in the midst of turmoil and hard times affect not just us but everyone that our life influences. It's a grand big scheme God has got there and you are a vital part of it. I'll end with a quote which I love - "We are fed the lie that we are expendable, merely pawns on the chess board of life. But the truth couldn't be further from that. We are the display of God's glory on this earth and throughout eternity."