As soldiers fail when they do not trust their weapons and other equipment, we cripple ourselves in the battle against evil when we do not believe that that “those who are with us are greater than those who are with those who are with them”(2 Kings 6:16). Soldiers build trust through regular use and maintenance of their equipment. Studying the prayers of scripture, meditating on their words, and rephrasing them with application to our times increases our faith in the God who hears our prayers and in the usefulness of our uttering them. Like the soldier, too, we must be aware of another potential threat: our own failings as leaders and as disciples of Jesus. Jeremiah sounded words of warning to his contemporaries that still demand our consideration: “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold. All who found them have devoured them, and their enemies have said, ‘We are not guilty, for they have sinned against the LORD, their habitation of righteousness, the LORD, the hope of their fathers” (Jeremiah 50:6-8). Our God is an awesome God, who will accomplish his will despite our most fervently pious interference, but our disobedience slows the fulfillment of God’s will. When we pray for God to change our situation, we must recognize that he may change us as part of the process, and we must be humble enough to submit to the change. A psalmist meditated on his own transformation by God as he prayed, in Psalm 94:12,
“Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, 13 to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow.”
Prayer in spiritual warfare rejoices in the power of God to effect victory over the forces of evil. We pray for and with a sense of God’s presence. We pray with urgency. We pray with confidence.
O God who sustains us in the battle, replenish our weary spirits when we falter. In moments of temptation, or when we are attacked because of our faith in you, we may hesitate to call on you for assistance. We may surrender when rescue was near. Open our eyes that we, like Elisha’s servant, may see the superior strength of those who are with us. Give us discernment, so that we may realize that we need to change ourselves if we are to accomplish your will effectively. Thank you for your love and your grace. In Jesus’ name, amen