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Prayer: Powerful, Needed, Neglected!

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Where? In the pitifully attended prayer venues of our churches today, as many of us can testify.

Why is it that despite biblical exhortations—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7), “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, KJV), “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8)—do we not pray as we ought?

The truth is that prayer is hard work and is strongly opposed by the enemy of our souls. Paul explains it this way: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4–5).

On another occasion Paul exhorts us, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11). After detailing the various parts of the spiritual armor needed, he concludes with this exhortation: “and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (v. 18).

Corrie Ten Boom was an indomitable Dutch woman who, at the risk of her own life, rescued hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust by hiding them in her own home. “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles,” she wrote. “When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.”

Let’s face it. In spite of Jesus’ flat out declaration “‘. . . apart from me you can do nothing’” (John 15:5b), are not the prayer venues, the spiritual power centers of our churches, the most poorly attended? Why is it that dozens of us will spend hours building sets and rehearsing lines for a drama to be presented in the church, but when the call comes to spend an hour praying for a moving of the Holy Spirit in our midst, a mere handful turn out? It is because the enemy of our souls opposes our praying with a vengeance.

Over and over in the history of Israel, the people turned their backs on God and were overcome by their enemies. But over and over they repented of their sins, cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them. He is still in the deliverance business. God pleads: “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’” (Jer. 33:3).

And He promises: “‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’” (2 Chron. 7:14).

Let’s do it!

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