Chapter 5 "Weapons of our Warfare"
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,
but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
—2 Corinthians 10:4
In our vastly changing world, we men are bombarded with so many mixed messages regarding what men are to be like and how we are to act. The feminists have convinced both men and women that if we take authority over our households or protect our wives we are “chauvinist pigs.” In contrast, at the movie theater, it seems there is always at least one movie that portrays the brutal violence of men against their enemies. Amidst this confusion, it is a welcome relief to have the Bible and the Holy Scriptures to guide us, renew our minds with the Truth, and therefore transform us.
Satan has set his main attack on our homes; this is the “front line.” When there is trouble at home, especially with our wives, it causes us to be totally ineffective in our lives. Some men will run from the front lines by finding solace in their jobs, in sports, in hobbies, or in the arms of another woman. Let’s face the battle head on with the weapons God has given us through Christ’s death on the cross. Let’s learn how we can use the “weapons of our warfare” to pull down some of the walls that have divided our homes.
When I am having trouble with my wife, what should I do?
We must go to the top; we must go to our heavenly Father and appeal to Him.
First, examine yourself and your motives. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me . . .” (Ps. 139:23–24).
Next, turn over, through prayer alone, your wife to God. You must understand that you are not responsible for what your wife does or does not do; she is accountable to God for her actions. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:14).
Get out of her way. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners . . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1). Because you are her authority, explain clearly to your wife what you want her to do. But, if she rebels, get out of her way! The second line tells us what we are to do—meditate on His Word. Leave your wife to God; God must be the One to make changes in your wife. Who got your attention and made the changes in you? God. If God did this with you, isn’t He more than able to change your wife?
Stop riding her about it; pray about it! You can help to heal your home with your prayers. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).
Have the proper attitude. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12).
Overcome all evil with good. Be careful how you react to evil when it occurs: “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). And it may occur: “. . . knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:3). Take this opportunity to pray a blessing over your wife: “. . . not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9).
Concentrate on loving the unlovable! When you love and give honor to your wife, even when she is unlovable and unkind, you are showing her unconditional love. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?” (Matt. 5:46). Give God your hurts, rather than returning evil or insults. He will help you love your wife regardless of her actions toward you.
The ministry of reconciliation. As children of God, we are to be ambassadors of God’s love and that will draw others to the Lord. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ . . . and [he] gave us the ministry of reconciliation . . . not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18–20). Are you counting your wrongs suffered? Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning. Are your mercies toward your wife new every morning?
Our first mission field. You may ask yourself, “Why should I minister to my wife and my family?” The Lord gives us our homes as the first “mission field.” We may want to rush ahead of God before we are really ready. As husbands and fathers, we are to minister at home first! “. . . if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:6–9). Once we become effective “missionaries” in our own home, we then can be effective with others.
God wants us to learn contentment before He’ll change our wives. To prove the point further, let’s examine Paul’s life. “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” He goes on to say (the verse you hear so often), “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11–13).
You must battle in the proper way. Do what God says—it will work! “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:8).
This is a spiritual battle. “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels” (Matt. 26:52). Our heavenly Father will call on the angels to battle on your behalf in the “heavenlies” where the “real battle” is waging. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Pray Psalm 91 over your family.
Your wife is not the enemy. “Do you not know when you present yourselves to someone as slaves of obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). When sin abounds in someone’s life, that person is really just a slave of the devil. We may think the one who sins is awful, but so are we if we continue to react with vengeance. Remember, that belongs to God alone! “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4). Wouldn’t you rather get at the root cause, not just at the symptom?
Word of warning. Never open up or share with any woman your troubles at home or tell another woman that your wife just “doesn't understand.” If you do, you are like an ox being led to slaughter! Even though they may be very nice, married, not your type, or any other excuse Satan is telling you (or you are telling yourself), it is not “safe” to talk to another woman! Satan doesn’t care who he uses to destroy your home. Never confide or share anything with another woman! “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). (See “Because of Immoralities” for more knowledge.)
Boast about your weaknesses. If you see or hear of a situation with another married man who is falling into this trap, share this Truth with him. Don’t judge him. Care enough to turn back your brother. “My brethren, if any among you strays from the Truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20). Let him confide in you. Then, open up to him your failings or temptations, humbly. “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Be committed. Be committed regardless of the consequences and leave the results to God. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:17). These youths believed God would deliver them, but, regardless of the consequences, they had resolved that they would not compromise, even if it meant death in the furnace. These young men were determined to do what they knew God wanted them to do and left the results in God’s hands. The youths didn’t die, but the cords that bound them were removed by their walking in the fire. Do you have cords (of sin or anxiety) that are binding you? God will deliver you. Let’s prepare for the battle that will win the war in our homes!
Preparing for War by Putting on Your Armor
The schemes of the devil. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10–11). Remember the real enemy is Satan—not your wife.
The full armor of God. “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. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day” (Eph. 6:12–13). You must resist the fear that causes you to run to something or someone else or to just give up! Stand firm.
Stand firm. “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with Truth . . .” (Eph. 6:14). People talk about “stepping out in faith.” It may be best to stop moving and just stand firm! It may be the difference between trusting and tempting God. Sometimes we feel as though we are taking a “step of faith,” but we are actually throwing ourselves off a cliff. Our convictions should enable us to “stand” for what is right. If God brings adversity into our lives, our stand will be the testimony. Yet, sometimes we are asked to step out and walk on water, as Peter was asked to do. Discernment is needed here. Usually our “flesh” brings about urgency. God usually says wait.
His righteousness. “And having put on the breastplate of righteousness . . .” (Eph. 6:14). God is talking about His righteousness, not yours. He tells us in His Word that our righteousness is nothing but “filthy rags.”
Walk in peace. “And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace . . .” (Eph. 6:15). It says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers!” And in 1 Peter 3, it says to “be prepared to give an account of the hope that is within you yet with patience and gentleness.” We are to wait until the “door” is opened and then proceed with great gentleness and patience.
The shield of faith. “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). You must have faith, not in yourself or someone else, but faith in God, in Him alone! Circumstance has nothing to do with faith. Believe His Word alone for the Truth about your situation.
Helmet of salvation. “And take the helmet of salvation . . .” (Eph. 6:17). You must be saved; you must be one of His children to really win a difficult spiritual battle. It’s as easy as talking to God right now. Just tell Him in your own words that you need Him now. Ask the Lord to make Himself real to you. Give Him your life, a life that is messed up, and ask the Lord to make it new. Tell Him that you will do whatever He asks, since He is now your Lord. Ask Him to “save you” from your situation and from the eternal torment that is waiting for all those who do not accept His gift of eternal life with Him in heaven. Thank Him for His death on the cross and His resurrection. You can now believe that you will no longer live alone; God will always be with you and you will spend eternity in heaven.
Sword of the Spirit. “And the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17). If you search His Word for the Truth concerning your situation, then you will have something to stand on. When the battle is the Lord’s, the victory is ours! Write down, on 3x5 cards, the Scriptures you’ll need to help you in your battle. Keep them with you at all times, either in your briefcase or in your car. When you feel an attack coming on, like anger or anxiety, cry out to God. “Cease striving and know that I am God . . .” (Ps. 46:10). Stand firm in faith and wait for God.
Pray at all times. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18). Pray from deep in your spirit. Have a designated time or times of prayer. God desires to hear from us and prayer is our form of communication.
Be on the alert. “And with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Pray for another person each time anxiety overwhelms you. Pray this verse for them: “Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (Phil. 12:9–10).
Pray for those who persecute you. God also asked that we pray for our enemies—every one of them! Pray for them and ask God to show you what He wants you to do to bless them. It wasn’t until after Job prayed for his “so-called” friends that God restored what Job had lost. “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold” (Job 42:10). “But I say to you, love
your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” He goes on to tell you why: “in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).
Know God’s Word
His Word will not come back void. You must know and learn God’s Word. You need to set out to find the blessed promises of God. These principles we have been learning are from His Word, and when we speak His Word to Him by prayer, it will not come back void. That is His promise to you! “So shall My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void [empty], without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). His desire is that you may overcome the evils in this world. You must pray His Word. If you accept no imitations or counterfeits, then you can expect to receive the guaranteed promises of God! Amen!
Search for God’s promises throughout your Bible. Seek understanding. God says if you seek you will find. God’s Word gives wisdom. “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Once you’ve found God’s Truth, then you can apply it to your life. “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3–4).
Read them with delight and mark them in your Bible. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Take the time to mark these passages for quick reference in times of distress or when leading another to the Truth. What did Jesus answer when Satan was trying to tempt Him? “And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written . . . It is written . . . For it is written . . .’” (Luke 4:4, 8, 10). When the devil assaults you again, come against him with“It is written . . . It is written . . . For it is written . . .”!
Memorize. Meditate day and night. Memorize the promises you find in your Bible so that the blessed assurance of them may sink into your soul. You must learn and know God’s promises if you ever want to depend on Him alone. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:2).
Spiritual Warfare by Taking Your Thoughts Captive
Your battle may be won or lost in your mind. So take your thoughts captive! “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Cor. 10:5–6). Don’t play into the enemy’s hands. Don’t entertain evil thoughts; take your thoughts captive!
Overcome evil with good. Satan knows that if he can divide, he can conquer. Most of us play right into his hands, the hands of the enemy. Scripture tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
No matter how bad things seem—God is in control. Our comfort is in knowing that God is in control, not us, and certainly not Satan. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32).
Sifting. Jesus knew the future outcome, yet Peter still had to go through the “sifting” to be ready for God’s calling on his life. Will you be ready when He calls you? “And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).
The Keys of Heaven
Jesus gave us the keys of heaven to “bind up” the evil and “loose” the good. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19).
Remove the evil. You must first bind the “strong man”—that is, the spirit that has a hold on the person you are praying for. “But no one can enter the strong man’s house . . . unless he first binds the strong man . . .” (Mark 3:27).
Replace the evil with good.This is very important! “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first” (Luke 11:24–26).
Replace the lies with the Truth—the Truth that is only found in His Word. Unless what you hear, what you read, or what someone tells you matches up with a principle in God’s Word, it is a lie!
Replace the “arm of the flesh” with the “Lord.” Replace trusting in “the arm of the flesh” (yourself, a friend, or whomever) with trusting in the Lord. “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). “Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. . . . Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord” (Jer. 17:5, 7).
Replace running away from God with—running to Him! “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Run to the book of Psalms! Read the Psalms that correspond to the date plus 30 (30, 60, 90, etc.), then read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the date. (e.g., on the 5th of the month you would read the 5th, 35th, 65th, 95th, 125th Psalms and the 5th chapter of Proverbs). An easy way to remember is to write where to turn on the bottom of the Psalm (e.g., on the bottom of the 6th Psalm you would write 36, then on the bottom of the 36th you would write 66, and so on. When you get to the 126th Psalm, you would write Proverbs 6.) Psalm 119 is reserved for the 31st day of the month.
Replace complaining to another with crying out to Him! He promises to hear you and lift you up immediately! But you must cry out! Don’t think to yourself, “Well, God hasn’t helped me in the past!” If He didn’t help, it’s simply because you didn’t ask or you weren’t patient. “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
What “Condition” Is Needed to Be Heard
Your desire needs to be His will. Jesus’ condition is that “If you abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). When your heart rests in Jesus alone, your will is centered in His will, and this is truly making Him Lord of your life. To know His will, you need to know His Word.
The condition for the blessing. Each promise given by God has a condition for receiving that blessing. Many will claim a portion of the Scripture and omit the condition. Others claim the Scripture and choose to ignore the condition.
Condition: “Believe on the Lord Jesus . . .”
Promise: “. . . and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Condition: “Delight yourself in the Lord . . .”
Promise: “. . . and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
Condition: “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .”
Promise: “. . . even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Promise: “. . . God causes all things to work together for good . . .
Condition: “. . . to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Called by My name. “. . . And [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Once you cry out to Him, you will be called by Christ’s name. A Christian is a “follower of Christ.” Remember, you must be one of His children. Talk to God right now.
Humble yourself. “. . . And [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Self-willed, haughty people sometimes understand the Word without the Spirit, but to know the mind of God we need to wait humbly on God’s Spirit.
Humility will be tested. “. . . He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deut. 8:2).
Humility will save you. “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, and the humble person He will save” (Job 22:29).
Humility will strengthen your heart. “O Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; Thou wilt strengthen their heart, Thou wilt incline Thine ear . . .” (Ps. 10:17).
He teaches and leads the humble. “He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way” (Ps. 25:9).
Only the humble will inherit the land. “But the humble will inherit the land . . .” (Ps. 37:11).
The humble will be exalted. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble” (Luke 1:52).
Only the humble will be given grace. “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:6, 10).
Humility is rooted in the spirit. “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit . . .” (1 Pet. 3:8).
Walk in the Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit will enable you to walk in the Spirit, not in sin and fleshly desires. Many churches are enthusiastically “Spirit-filled.” In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, “love” is said to be superior to having the gift of tongues. Any talent or blessing we receive sometimes can cause us to become prideful. When you judge another’s importance or measure their spirituality by whether or not they display spiritual gifts, you set yourself up for the fall of pride. “And do not judge and you will not be judged . . .” (Luke 6:37).
“And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezek. 36:27).
“. . . Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
Pray. “. . . And [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
Wait. When the battle is the Lord’s, the victory is ours! Just like with all real wars, not all the battles are won by the same side, so do not be discouraged if you have fallen short and made mistakes. We have comfort in knowing that He hears us immediately—but there is a battle being waged. In the book of Daniel, an angel spoke to him and gave us these insights: “. . . From the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days” (Dan. 10:12–13). It may take some time to win the battles; do not become weary. “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13).
His timing. One thing you must understand—God seems to work on one thing at a time. We must work with Him in His timing. This does not mean we need to wait to pray; it only means we need to wait for God to change the situation at the proper time. Thank God that He doesn’t dump (through conviction) all our sins on top of us all at once! Just use the time when you’re waiting to pray. If you don’t understand this very important point, you may become weary and unable to overcome. “He that overcomes shall inherit all things” (Rev. 21:7).
Two or three gathered. Find two other men who will pray with you. “But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set . . . When Moses held his hand up, than Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down Amalek (the enemy) prevailed” (Exod. 17:11–12). Find two other men (not a woman, unless it is your wife) to hold you up so you won’t become too weary. Pray and ask God to help you find two others who are like-minded.
The power of three. “And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Eccl. 4:12).
To lift the other up.“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up” (Eccl. 4:9–10).
He is there with you. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst” (Matt. 18:20). “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he responded and said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’” (Dan. 3:24). You are never alone!
Agreement. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19).
Pray for one another. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). Confession to a like-minded man is the best method of obtaining a pure heart.
Seek My face. “. . . And [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
“They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Ps. 34:5).
Turn from your wicked ways. “. . . And [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Scriptures are not only for the head; they are for the heart and the will. To get the real impact of Scripture, we must surrender our lives and our wills to the leading of the Spirit. We must be willing to be made over.
Whom does the Lord hear? Whom does the Lord deliver?“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry” (Ps. 34:15). “The righteous cry and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Ps. 34:17).
Whom will He not answer? When you are in sin, God will not answer, even if you do cry out to Him. “Then they will cry out to the Lord, but He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time, because they have practiced evil deeds” (Mic. 3:4).
We all have sinned. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but God sent His Son. “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).
Too bey is better than sacrifice. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:22). Do you know the right thing to do, yet you do not do it? Obey! “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Begin by praying Psalm 51:2–4. “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge.”
When do you give up praying? Never! We have a wonderful example of the fact that God does not always mean “no” when we haven’t received an answer to our prayer. Read Matthew 15:22 and see how the Canaanite woman continued to beg Jesus for her daughter’s healing. The result of her faith: “. . . Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.”
The battle for the soul. Are you unequally yoked? Read this quote taken from John Rice’s book Prayer, Asking and Receiving. He is talking about a wife praying for her husband, but certainly, it can be applied to you, praying for your wife. “If a Christian wife is out-and-out for God . . . she can win her husband more quickly than anyone else. Pray this simple prayer of confession. Mean it from your very soul. Acknowledge in these words, your failure, your barrenness, your shallowness as a Christian, and your lack of bearing fruit. Pray it now in your heart. I beseech you today, go beg for it, plead for it, with confession, with tears, with travail of soul, until God answers from heaven.” Remember, you have the promise that “. . . you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:14). Remember, the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband . . . For how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Cor. 7:14).
Peter, an example of faith. Read the account of Peter in Matthew 14 starting at verse 22. Jesus asked Peter to walk on water. If He asks you to walk on water, will you get out of the boat? Notice that when Peter cries out to Jesus, it is always followed by the word immediately. Immediately, Jesus spoke to them and told them to take courage. And then later when Peter began to sink, he cried out to the Lord, and “immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him”! (Matt. 14:31).
Fear. A question we must ask ourselves is, “Why did Peter sink?” “But seeing the wind, he became afraid” (Matt. 14:30). If you look at your situation and at the battle that is raging against you, you will sink! Peter took his eyes off the Lord and the result was fear! It says, “he became afraid.” If you take your eyes off the Lord, you, too, will become fearful.
Your testimony. How did the others in the boat react? (Did you forget there were others who didn’t get out of the boat?) It says, “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” (Matt. 14:33). Are you willing to allow God to use you to show His goodness, His lovingkindness, His protection, to draw others to Him? There is a great reward! This is evangelism. Others will come to you when they are having trouble because they have seen your peace, despite your circumstances.
The wind stopped. “And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped” (Matt. 14:32). Your trials and battles will not go on forever. Peter was tested in order to be made strong enough to be the “rock” of which Jesus had spoken. Satan (and others working for him) will tell you that you will stay in your affliction unless you run away, give in, or give up. But God never intended for us to remain in “the valley of the shadow of death.” In Psalm 23:4, it says that we go “through the valley of the shadow of death.” Satan wants us to believe that we must live there! He wants to paint a “hopeless” picture! God is our hope. And, hope is our faith in His Word that has been sown in our hearts.
Abraham. We can look to Abraham for a second example of faith. When he was about 90 years old and still without the child God had promised him, “he hoped against hope” (Rom. 4:18). Isn’t that good? Even when all hope was gone, he continued to believe God and take Him at His Word. We must do the same.
If you lack faith. If you lack faith, you need to ask God for it, since there is a constant spiritual battle going on, waged by Satan, to destroy your faith. “Fight the good fight of faith . . .” (1 Tim. 6:12). “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith . . .” (2 Tim. 4:7). Without the people’s faith, even Jesus’ power was inhibited. “And He (Jesus) could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief” (Mark 6:5).
Act on the faith that you do have. “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you’” (Matt. 17:20).
Imitators of faith. We would do well to imitate those in Scripture who exhibited faith. (You can find the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews, Chapter 11.) We need to act on God’s promises by being “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12).
Double-minded or doubting. You must not be double-minded. Your mind must not waver or doubt God. “But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6–8).
Faith without works. “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works’” (James 2:18). Show others that you have faith by your actions. If you have trouble in your home, don’t just say you believe that it will be healed, act like it. “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (James 2:20).
Things not seen. Many may ask you if you see any change. Share these Scriptures with them. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “. . . For we walk by faith, not by sight . . .” (2 Cor. 5:7).
The Word. How can we gain faith, or increase our faith? “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Read His Word and surround yourself with faithful men.
Obedience. Don’t forget that obedience to God is paramount to victory. Don’t forget what Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
In God’s will. If you are experiencing conviction in your heart and are feeling that you are not in God’s will, that you do not keep His commandments, and that you do not ask for things according to His will, then, of course, you will have no confidence, no faith to receive your request from the Lord. Ask God to direct your paths and to change your will to His will “. . . Yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).
Prayer and fasting. Jesus told His apostles, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21). If you have been praying fervently and have purified your ways, then fasting may be called for. There are different lengths of fasts.
One-day fast. The day fast begins in the evening after your evening meal. You drink only water until the 24-hour period is complete; then you eat the next day’s evening meal. You pray during this time for your petition. This fast can be done a couple of times a week.
Three-day fast. Esther fasted “for favor” from her husband, the king. She fasted three days “for favor.” “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way” (Esther 4:16).
Seven-day fast. Seven days seems to represent completion. “Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4). Usually it will be during great sorrow that you are “called” to fast for seven days. When you are hungry or weak, use that time for prayer and reading His Word.
A gloomy face. Keep as quiet about your fast as possible. During the fast, you are not to complain or draw attention to yourself. “And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matt. 6:16–18).
The Lord will fight your battles. Stand and see! Once you have prayed according to what we have been reading throughout Scripture, then do as it says—“You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf” (2 Chron. 20:17).
No one should boast. God says we are a stubborn people! When a battle is won or when the war is over, let us boast only in Him. Let us remain humble. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). “Do not say in your heart . . .‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but because of the wickedness . . . that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these . . . for you are a stubborn people . . . You have been rebellious against the Lord” (Deut. 9:4–7). We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, so let us remember that when the battle is won, our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isa. 64:6, KJV).
Intensity of your trials is a sign that you are close to victory. Your trials may intensify when you are close to gaining the victory. “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Rev. 12:12). Let’s begin our commitment by praying His Word . . .
“Dear heavenly Father, I enter into my prayer closet, and, now that I have shut the door, I pray to you, my Father, in secret. As you see me here in secret, you will reward me openly. It is written ‘all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive’ (Matt. 21:22).
“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee. My soul longs for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Lord, there is no one besides Thee to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy name have come against this multitude. O Lord, Thou art my God; let not man prevail against Thee.
“Your eyes Lord, move to and fro throughout the whole earth that you may strongly support those hearts whose are completely Yours. Search my heart.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, you have readiness to revenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
“O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous. I shall not be afraid of evil tidings; my heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. My heart is established, I shall not be afraid, until I see my desire come upon the enemy.
“Let my fountain be blessed, and let me rejoice with the wife of my youth. For why should I be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? My own iniquities will capture the wicked, and I will be held with the cords of my sin. I will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of my folly I will go astray. The ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord and he watches all his paths.
“Abraham, who hoped against hope, believed in hope, and was not weak in faith, staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform.
“We are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For what man seeth, why doth he yet hope for it? But if we hope for what we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. I would have fainted unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen thine heart, yes, wait on the Lord. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.
“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides Thee, what He hath prepared for Him who waiteth for Him. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.”
May God Grant You Victory
Personal commitment: To pray to our Father in heaven rather than retreat from the battle line or use the arm of the flesh. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I commit to bathing all my desires and concerns in prayer. I acknowledge that the only way to win my battles is by knowing and applying His Word to my life.”
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on, in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).