Midweek Fellowship – May 11, 2016
“Spiritual Warfare / Praying in the Spirit 101”
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
We have pushed our series on Prayer, which began last January, into a higher gear by our teachings on Spiritual Warfare. Before we continue on this topic of Spiritual Warfare and into our lesson on Praying in the Spirit, I would like go over the basic teachings on prayer and the importance, the value of this aspect and part of our Spiritual life.
Remember that prayer is the thermometer or the indicator of our spiritual growth and condition, as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is one very vital means, together with God’s word in Scriptures, for us to know God and then eventually to make Him known.
We cannot expect spiritual growth in our Christian life if we neglect prayer. We will continue to live a mediocre or even a defeated life if we do not practice prayer. Power in our lives, power to be more than conquerors in Christ, requires the increase of our spiritual capacity and intimacy with the source of power – God. If there is one area that we, Christians, lack in our Christian life, it is our time for prayer. We have not understood that in order for us to know the principles and the ways of the Kingdom of God, we must be spiritually appraised. Prayer is the way for us to do this. It is our link or lifeline with the Father.
Last week, we saw what Spiritual Warfare is about. It begins with the realization that there are two real, existent realms that we live in: the spiritual and the physical. For most of us, we have been made aware of the physical dimension of our lives. Since we were young, our first educational experiences and training are in the area of the 5 senses. We were taught how to use our physical faculties, including our mental and emotional capacities, our thinking and reason processes in order to establish our actions and choices.
If I feel weak, then I am sick and I need to take medication. I need money to do anything. If I have 100 pesos, and I begin to subtract my tithing and my offering, then I will have much less than what I need to pay my bills. If I don’t take care of my own needs first, then I will continue to suffer because no one will take care of my needs. If my feelings toward a person, feelings that used to be very strong toward someone are gone, then, it is not wrong to break whatever commitment I made. After all, times have changed and the situation today is much different from the time I made that vow or commitment.
We live our lives in that manner. We base our judgments and actions on the manner by which we were trained. Because we spent the next 18 to 20 years of our lives, since age 4, being drilled in this system and way from pre-school, elementary, high school, to college, we find it now very difficult to see that there is another dimension of life which is just as true, just as real, and just as effecting to us and affecting us in our day-to-day work and lives.
This other dimension is the spiritual dimension. We saw examples of this last week from Scriptures. Let me add more tonight as we continue in the lesson on Spiritual Warfare and lay the foundation for praying in the Spirit.
Let me begin with Ephesians 6:10-12, which I would use as my foundation Scripture and I believe is the most central teaching on spiritual warfare found in the New Testament. This portion of Ephesians come after five wonderfully, glorious chapters that talk about God’s plan and purpose for His creation -- man’s role in this plan, Christ’s completed and perfect work to restore man back to this plan, the role of the church, and the manner by which it would operate as we walk in a manner worthy of our calling in our relationships with other people. After all of these magnificent realities established by God in our lives, Paul gives a very interesting conclusion to his letter. He gives us a very important command that will ensure the “glorious inheritance” that Paul was talking about in the chapters preceding.
The three verses from 10-12 of Ephesians gives us 2 basic commands: one, be strong in the Lord; two, put on the full armor of God.
Paul follows this with a statement in verse 12 of why this is so. He says that our struggle (battle) is not against flesh and blood, but against unseen opposition beyond the physical realm. This battle is so real and Paul uses a very relevant analogy of what warfare is in his days – the way the people then understood fighting.
After Paul’s description of the new life in Christ and the glorious plan of God for His people in Ephesians 1 – 5, chapter 6 ends to say that this great and magnificent life of Christianity will have to be lived out in a hostile, harsh, unwelcoming, unpleasant world.
We saw the Biblical example in Daniel chapter 9 with the angel Gabriel. The chapter following that, Daniel chapter 10 talks about a very similar situation involving Michael, the archangel, being hindered by the prince of Persia.
Daniel 10: 10-14, “A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
2 Kings 6: (8-14)15-18, “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.”
Seeing these two examples should further reinforce what we have been talking about as a real world in the spiritual dimension. If we do not understand this, we will continue to struggle in our lives as Christians, because all we are made to see and believe is the physical realm.
Why are we commanded in Scriptures to leave the presence of a fool, or else we will not be able to discern words of wisdom (Proverbs 14:7)? Why does it further say that the one who walks with wise men will be wise? (Proverbs 13:20)? It is because of the fact that there is a spiritual force that exists – good or bad – in the company of people.
Let us now go back to Ephesians 6: 10 -12:
The two commands given by Paul are:
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. The battle is not about my strength or me mustering enough of my own strength. There is power and strength available to the believer.
Allow yourself to be continually strengthened by the power already made available to you in your life and relationship with Christ give you the strength you need to fight.
Put on the armor of God. – The means of gaining strength is to take on the resources which God has provided. It is the armor OF GOD (not human armor). It is God’s provision so that you actively win the battles because you have already won the war.
Hold your ground. Do not give the devil an inch.
Following this command is a detailed list of the different weapons we have been given. We would look at these different weapons:
Belt of truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Footwear of the preparation of the gospel of peace
Shield of Faith
Helmet of salvation
Sword of the Spirit
Verse 18: “With all prayer and petition: pray at all times in the Spirit.”
Praying in the spirit is the linchpin that holds all the armor together. We will examine it closer next week after the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday. We would like to see the tremendous and dynamic power that is made available by God through His Spirit so that His will in heaven may be done on earth. This is so that His people may experience in this side of God’s kingdom on earth the victory that Christ has already established in heaven.