Summary: Preparing our hearts through prayer for combat with evil

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As we gather this morning we do so at a unique time in our lives.. a time in which our nation is preparing for war… perhaps a war that will unfold in a more drawn out manner… but still with a call to ‘readiness’ that is fitting of war. The National Guard has been called up. Reserves… possible draft.

Rightfully so… as Jesus, Paul, and the early church all understood that God sovereignly uses nations to exercise restraint on evil. And as citizens of a nation which has been attacked we rightfully can recognize that God has given governments the right to bear the sword, and the place of this nation to pursue and punish those responsible for such acts of aggression…destruction and suffering. Some here may even be called to actively participate in this endeavor.

> I believe God is also calling us all to recognize another dimension to the conflict with evil.

God’s call to His people involves a call to wartime readiness… a time of spiritual alertness and attention. … of being prepared.

It’s the sense of alertness which Jesus has called us to and which the Apostle Paul recognized…

1 Thes. 5:1-2, 4-6, 8-10, 16-18 [TEV]

There is no need to write you, friends, about the times and occasions when these things will happen. [2] For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief comes at night…. [4] But you, friends, are not in the darkness, and the Day should not take you by surprise like a thief. [5] All of you are people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. [6] So then, we should not be sleeping like the others; we should be awake and sober.

[8] We must wear faith and love as a breastplate, and our hope of salvation as a helmet. [9] God did not choose us to suffer his anger, but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, [10] who died for us in order that we might live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes.

[16] Be joyful always, [17] pray at all times, [18] be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

Return of Christ… involving events of world turmoil … bringing about a final judgment which many will not be prepared for… but for which we are to remain awake and sober for.

At the forefront of this call > PRAY AT ALL TIMES.

Ephes. 6:10-12, 18 [NLT]

A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. [11] Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. [12] For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms… [18] Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere. [NLT]

Unveils the deeper conflict / war at hand… spiritual battle… begins with the call to stay connected to the Lord’s power…

At the forefront of this call > PRAY AT ALL TIMES.

Philip. 4:6-7 [NIV]

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

All of these words to the people of God call for readiness and lead to one common element…. Prayer…. Developing a prayer directed spirit.

> Prayer is the active, ongoing, redirecting of my spirit to the will and work of God.

Lets unpack this call to prayer… and what it means to develop a prayer-directed spirit.

1. Prayer is ACTIVE.

Often one of the challenges to prayer is that we perceive prayer as passive. We perceive of prayer as merely preparatory… pray before we eat… but then let’s eat. In the same way, we can pray before we get down to business, but then let’s get down to business.

While it’s true that prayer in no way substitutes for our practical participation… neither is it in any way passive and merely preparatory.

> These are calls to be alert and aggressive.

God sees the world as falling asleep in the darkness of our condition… asleep in the darkened reality of life apart from God.

In this way the enemy behind all evil is not human (flesh and blood), but spiritual.

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