Summary: We all need to learn that satan wants to stop us praying (ephesians 6) and that we need to wrestle against that. added to this we need to be challenged to persevere in prayer - like the men and women of faith in scripture
WRESTLING IN PRAYER
Isn’t it amazing how quick the pace of life is? Are you not astounded that every 18 months or so the speed of a computer doubles? We all use to think the www was quick with a dial up connection but now we have broadband and isdn lines. We have instant everything. You can go and get your glasses made in an hour at vision express. You can do banking on line. Everything is at such a speed. Yet when it comes to prayer speed is not of any importance at all. In fact the one thing which we need in prayer is not speed but perseverance. We actually need to learn how to wrestle in prayer over a long period of time and not just in short bursts of speed. The truth is that for many believers today their prayer lives reflect the pace of their lives – hectic. Everything is hurried. Everything, even prayer, has to be slotted into a time frame. How often do you find yourself praying and your mind is wandering all over the place? You are actually thinking of things that you could, note I said could not should, be doing if you were not praying. We often even fall into the trap of thinking ‘this time spent praying is wasted.’ Ever found that thought in your head when you are praying or about to pray? Of course you have, we all have at some time. Yet we are exhorted by Jesus and the Word of God to pray and to not give up praying. So this morning I want to encourage you to ‘wrestle in prayer’ – basically to keep going over the long haul and to not give up or give in.
A MYTH SLAIN.
Allow me right at the beginning of this sermon to slay a myth in the area of ‘wrestling in prayer.’ It is quite common to hear people hold up the example of Jacob or the Syro-Phoenican woman who came to Jesus as examples of people who wrestled in prayer and got the answer they desired. The implications of what is said is that you should wrestle with God and not let Him go until He has answered. That sort of teaching in wrestling in prayer is quite common, you may even hold to it yourself but it is not biblical. Such teaching makes God out to be a reluctant giver of blessing. It makes out that we have to literally wrestle the answer out of God and wring out the blessings from His hands. Such an image of God is wrong. God is not reluctant to answer prayer, nor does He begrudgingly bless. Listen to these words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7.10 – the key phrase being ‘how much more…’ God does not hold on to blessings or answers until we somehow manage to prise them out of His grip. Let us remember that it was God who came to meet Jacob and to wrestle with Jacob. Jacob had deceived his brother, his father and sought to manipulate situations to fulfil the promise God had made to him – he would not wait on God’s time. In the struggle Jacob was changed by God and left with a limp to remind him of the night of wrestling with God. Jacob learnt that God was in control and he was blessed with far more than he had ever requested. He wanted a right relationship with Esau. Jacob got that. Far more importantly he also had a restored relationship with God.
So please understand that when I speak of ‘wrestling in prayer’ I am not talking about a struggle with God to get Him to answer. Many passages speak of God’s desire to hear and to answer our prayers, as we have seen over the past two weeks.
Wrestling in Prayer – so what do we mean by that phrase? I want to look at two aspects of ‘wrestling in prayer:’
Firstly, I want to look at Ephesians 6.10-12, 18 where we are instructed by Paul that we are in a spiritual battle when it comes to prayer and the Christian life.
Secondly, I want to encourage us all to persist in prayer, to wrestle in prayer over the long haul and not just the short term.
Spiritual Battle – Ephesians 6.10-12, 18. READ.
When you became a Christian the bible says your were ‘born again.’ Now let me ask you a question: Into what were you born? Physically at one stage you were born – born in a hospital, most likely. As a Christian when you were ‘born again’ you were born in to a battle. You were in fact born on a battle field and into an army engaged in a war. You and I are not always aware of the battle, but it is real and it is of eternal consequences. The truth is our prayer lives would be better if we were more aware of the spiritual battle which is raging all around us. By the very fact that we do not think about it, or don’t believe it there is such a battle raging, our prayer life suffers immensely.