Most will never see their faces; Never know their name
What they do they do alone; They don’t need the fame
On their knees they touch the Lord; Knowing He will care
And change the things that man can’t change; With a simple prayer
They are prayer warriors fighting on their knees
True soldiers in the Lord’s army
Front liners ready every hour
Doing battle constantly with supernatural power
The preceding lyrics are from the song, Prayer Warriors, which was recorded on the Change the World album in 1985. The album was really the result of a conversation I had with a fellow Christian artist, Sheila Walsh. Sheila and I, as well as several other Christian artists, were in “The Green Room” at an artist retreat in Colorado. As we were waiting for our cue to take the stage and present our music, we engaged in conversation about spiritual warfare. Sheila was very passionate about the topic so she shared and I listened. Soon, one of the program directors called for Sheila to take the stage. I remained in the Green Room for another 20-30 minutes, reflecting on our conversation.
I had certainly heard the term “spiritual warfare” before, but I don’t think up until that point I had seriously considered what that meant and what implications it held for me and the Christian community as a whole.
From that rather brief conversation, ongoing study of God’s Word, and much prayer, I gained a clear and challenging understanding of the reality of spiritual warfare. I was also motivated to write the songs for the Change the World album, which would address the spiritual warfare issue.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB).
This verse, perhaps more clearly and specifically than any other (and there are many others), highlights and articulates the spiritual battle that rages continually. This is a battle we’re each engaged in. There is no sitting this one out!
The question is, are you a prayer warrior? Are you a frontliner? As the song’s imagery asks; are you a true soldier in His army, fighting in prayer on your knees? Are you ready every hour to do battle?
I recently had the privilege to lead a men’s bible study on this very topic. I asked the men if they had been involved in sports while growing up. Most raised their hand and said they had. Some played football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and other sports. I questioned them about the different kinds of training and preparation they’d endured to prepare themselves to succeed on game day. Wind sprints seemed to win out as perhaps the least liked and most grueling exercise.
I then asked the men what percentage of their efforts were spent in preparation for their sport of choice compared to the percentage of time actually realized competing in the sport on game day. We all agreed that probably somewhere around 90% (perhaps more) of our time was spent practicing, conditioning, and preparing for the 10% (maybe less) of time we actually
played the sport in competition.
Did you know that in the average NFL game, which usually lasts 3-3.5 hours, there are only 11-12 minutes of actual playing time? If you total up all the plays from the time the ball is snapped till the play is whistled dead, the actual cumulative total time actually played is 11-12 minutes. But to compete at that highest level, one must train off-season, during the season, hours, days, weeks, and months to succeed in that gridiron battle.
Now, what does all this have to do with prayer and spiritual warfare? I think we can all agree that if one didn’t train, prepare, and practice in sports, there should be no expectation to succeed.
Yet, too often we treat prayer as some minimal exercise and burdensome obligation. We take a hit-and-miss approach to the absolute necessity of the discipline and privilege of prayer and then wonder why we don’t succeed more in our spiritual life. The world, the flesh, and the devil are always and ever conspiring to defeat us. The devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Prayer is a most powerful weapon against that which seeks to defeat us.
An old saint was once asked, “Which is more important: reading God’s Word or praying?” To which he replied, “Which is more important to a bird: the right wing or the left?”
I’ve often said, “We talk to God through prayer, He talks to us through His Word.”
They are both equally important, but for our purposes here, I want to establish the absolute necessity of a consistent and fruitful prayer life. We could discuss many purposes for prayer, but let’s focus on four that I think merit consideration: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Petition.
Adoration: Take time always in prayer to just glorify and adore our Holy God. Extol His divine nature and marvelous attributes. Proclaim His eternal power, His love, His mercy, and His grace. Examples: Psalm 18:1-3, Psalm 145:1-6
Thanksgiving: Be thankful for who He is and what He has done. Recall His many benefits. Even in difficulty, we are more blessed than distressed. Examples: Psalm 7:17, Psalm 95:1-3
Repentance: Always pray with a repentant heart. Confess your sins, apologize for your offenses, and receive His cleansing and forgiveness by grace through faith. Move forward. Don’t remember against yourself that which He has promised to forget. Examples: 2 Chronicles 7:14, 1 John 1:9
Petition: Never be afraid to itemize your requests. We often are too vague in our prayers; we can never be too specific. David Wilkerson once said, “Get specific with God and He’ll get specific with you.” Examples: Philippians 4:6, Hebrews 4:16
These scriptural examples of prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, repentance, and petition are only the “tip of the iceberg.” Let me encourage you to search the scriptures and find many other verses relating to these topics. It will encourage your faith.
Search out scriptures, especially in the Psalms, and pray these verses. The joining of prayer to scripture and scripture to prayer is a powerful thing!
Finally, let me offer a few practical helps to praying: Start with Thanksgiving and Praise.
Consider the greater needs first, such as the Persecuted Church, nations, missionaries, and others first before your own needs.
Imagine the Lord standing next to you or sitting by you at the table or in your car. Talk to Him as a friend.
Pray in the Spirit. Trust in His Spirit to intercede when your vocabulary is exhausted. “Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused.” (Spurgeon)
All these which I’ve offered in this letter are really so brief and basic compared to what could be discussed in the realm of prayer. I hope and pray these simple thoughts help and encourage you to “go deeper” in prayer.
In the solitude of prayer; Victories are won
With the help of Heaven’s power; They will overcome
As one chorus fighting now; Warriors press on
Bringing strongholds to the ground; With a prayerful song
We are Prayer Warriors!