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The Strategic Importance of Prayer

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men take hold of it." Matthew 11: 12

What the disciples saw in Jesus

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As his chosen disciples, the twelve knew that ultimately they had to learn from their master, so that one day they would do the things he did. That is what disciples, like apprentices, are for: to become like their master. As the twelve looked at the incredible things Jesus did, they must have wondered how they could ever do the same. But they realised the secret of his power was directly linked with his prayer life. And as a good teacher, Jesus would often let them see him pray, so they could learn too.

In Luke 11: 1-13, we read of such a time: 'Lord, teach us to pray'.

They wanted to be able to push back the enemy, drive out sickness and bring wholeness and salvation to the people around them, just as Jesus did. But Jesus wanted them to understand that their relationship with the Father, and how they communicated with heaven, was of vital importance.

Whoever rules the 'air', controls the outcome

During the 20th century, warfare underwent a fundamental revolution. With the invention and development of the aeroplane, battles were no longer slogged out on the ground over long periods of time, as aircraft improved in power and effectiveness, the outcome was increasingly determined from the air.

Battles like the Somme, fought in 1916, over 5 months, with 1.25 million casualties and with a gain of only six miles, were no more. In 1940, the invasion of Britain did not take place because the RAF maintained air superiority in the Battle of Britain. The D-Day invasion of Normandy was a bloody battle with terrible loss of life, but there would have been no victory without the supremacy of allied air power. Wars like the Six Day war in 1967 and the Gulf War in 1991 demonstrated vividly that, whoever rules the air, wins the war on the ground

And so it is in the war between the kingdom of God and the forces of evil at work in the world and in the spiritual realm today.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6: 12

And so, as we pray, we do battle in 'the air', the heavenly realms.

Jesus demonstrated the importance of this. Though he was without sin, before he embarked on his amazing teaching, healing and miracle campaign, he spent the first six weeks of his ministry in fasting and prayer, dealing with the enemy.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit... was led by the Spirit in the desert where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. Luke 4:1-13

Later, he could say:
"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. Matthew 12:29

Wherever Jesus went, the demons knew who he was, and they were terrified, because this was the first human who had ever taken on their commander in chief, Satan, and beaten him. No human had been able to withstand their power until now. Jesus had bound the 'strong man'

And when he came to the cross, the crucifixion did not end in death and failure, but in his wonderful resurrection, the supremacy of Jesus was demonstrated to the whole spiritual realm.

That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way. Eph 1:19-23

Jesus has the ultimate authority. And as his body, his church, operating in his Name on earth, we share in that authority, and we exercise it every time we pray according to his Word. And while we continue to take the kingdom of God into the world, we do so in the knowledge that through the cross and resurrection, Jesus has ensured our ultimate victory as we apply the work he did on the cross to each and every situation. He is high over all.

Obedience in the chain of command

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does." John 5:19

...but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. John 14:31

Just as Jesus showed us in his own life, we are under authority. There are no 'lone rangers' in the kingdom. We are part of the church that is built according to the pattern of Jesus, and not according to our ideas. And when we are in the right place before God, he can work that same mighty power in and through us.

Heaven's will downloaded – God's kingdom here and now

Which brings us back to how Jesus responded when the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. The prayer we call the 'Lord's prayer', tells us to pray:

...your kingdom come... Luke 11:2
...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven... Matthew 6:10

The church – heaven's air force based on earth

Because of the grace of God, we are not 'cannon fodder' in this war, but part of the church which Jesus is building and has equipped to win! We used to be subject to the enemy's influence and power, but no longer:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

God has placed us in Christ in his position of authority:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2 v 6,7

...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:18-19

Every time you pray as Jesus taught us,

you advance God's kingdom and bring glory to Jesus.


Bible quotations from The Holy Bible: New International Version.

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