Tuesday, May 10, 2022
(Warning: what I am about to read is laced with huge generalizations and is meant only to make a point.)
Men are prone to the“open the box – attempt to assemble – get frustrated – read the instructions” format of life. Women, on the other hand, don’t attempt anything until they have everything organized for the job, including reading the instructions. When asked to bake a cake, a man may be able to read the recipe, but will most certainly get out a bowl, crack a couple of eggs, mix in some flour, and then discover that he doesn’t have enough of the other ingredients to finish. So he runs to the store, leaving the eggs on the counter to develop salmonella while he’s gone. Then, while at the store, he calls his wife at home to be reminded of what he’s at the store to buy, because he didn’t make a list. As she reads what he needs from the recipe, she checks the cupboard and discovers that all the ingredients are there and proceeds to tell him that he needs to open his eyes when he looks for things. He responds by saying he’ll try harder next time, knowing in his heart that it will never happen. He leaves the grocery store, and on the way home forgets that he is making a cake when he sees a collector’s car show at a local parking lot and stops in to check out the muscle cars.
In contrast, women will get out the recipe, read it thoroughly and check the cupboards for every ingredient before even getting out the mixer.
I can only image that men and women use the same approaches to reading about the armor of God in Ephesians 6. Men get to the end of verse seventeen and shout, “Woo-hoo, I have a sword. Let’s get the war started.” Women get to verse seventeen and read on, hoping to find some instructions on what to do with the sword. Men miss out on one of the most significant teachings about spiritual warfare and will run off in a lot of directions with a sword that is dull and ineffective. Women will discover an incredible truth about being successful in standing against the wiles of the devil.
Ephesians 6:18 :”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.”
Granted, not all men do things the way I described, and not all women are organizational gurus. My point is this – if we don’t read verse eighteen as a part of the armor of God, we will never be able to truly stand strong and be protected by that armor. Paul tells us that after we have taken up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, we are to pray in the Spirit. When Paul tells us to pray in the Spirit, he is giving us the instruction manual for how to use the sword of the Spirit, and to receive our marching orders from the Commander-in-Chief.
Our spiritual victory over the influence of evil hinges on this point – we are to use the sword to pray. The Sword of the Spirit is to be used to pray in the Spirit. Our authority in prayer comes from our confidence in the truth of God’s Word and in speaking it in our conversations with God.
I know a man who spends much time every day in prayer. He uses a variety of prayer techniques that cover every occasion of his life. But one technique that he uses consistently is to pray the Scriptures. He will take a Psalm, and replace every pronoun with his own name, or the name of the person for whom he is praying and pray the truths of God’s Word on their behalf. He will take the promises of God from His Word and insert his name or another person’s name into them and pray them to God. He is doing two things – he is affirming his faith in God’s Word, and he is asking God to fulfill His Word.
We would do well to imitate this man’s practice. We can start affirming our faith in God’s Word by speaking it back to Him and then acting upon it. One of the techniques used by parents in training their children is to ask them questions. They may ask, “What has daddy told you about this?” They are hoping to have the child affirm their understanding of the rules, expectations, and promises by repeating it back to them. Then they may ask, “And what has daddy promised you if you do it?” Again, the parent is hoping the child will affirm their understanding of the consequences or rewards of their choice. That is what we do when we use His word to communicate with Him. We are affirming our understanding of His rules, expectations, and promises, and our understanding of the consequences and rewards of our choices. That is what builds our faith and makes our shield against the enemy stronger.
So grab hold of a promise today and start praying it back to God. Use His Word as the foundation of every request, so you know you are asking in His will. Let your minds be renewed and transformed by putting every thought and idea into the context of God’s Word. Use the sword of the Spirit on yourself to build your relationship with Jesus, and He will handle the enemy. Then you will be able to stand strong. Then you will have done all there is to do, and you will still be standing.