Our Battle – Part 2

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If you were with us last week or watched the video online or listened to the podcast, then you know that today is part 2 of this two-part message titled OUR BATTLE. Last week we went through Ephesians 6 where Paul describes the amazing armor that every Christ Follower has at his/her disposal, and I had a bit of the flare for the dramatic and actually illustrated the armor of God by wearing physical roman-like armor. If you missed it, or only listened to it, you should definitely watch the video because I likely won’t be doing that again.
Last week I explained how over the past year that we’ve been building this experiment we call Reality 2.0 that God has been doing mighty things in us, and many of you are truly growing in your faith and making changes in your life. And I also explained that because we are a church that is not satisfied with staying asleep and just going through the motions, the enemy is starting to feel threatened by us and he will not give up ground without a fight. So, the battle that Paul talks about in Ephesians is OUR BATTLE.
Let’s revisit the text.
Ephesians 6 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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 realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.
And last week I covered in detail what all those pieces of armor were about. And I also pointed out that with all that armor on, we are not commanded to attack, or advance, or go after the enemy. We are told to stand firm. 
All those pieces of armor are defensive in nature, even the sword. The sword, the word of God, God’s truth is used to parry the lies of the enemy. Whenever he comes at you with a lie, you repel his attack with a word of truth. That’s what Jesus did when he fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the Devil.  And that’s what we are to do.
But the battle is not only defensive. We are not only to sit still and go nowhere. There are too many lives at stake for us to only wait around for the enemy to come to us. That is why Paul continues in this passage what we are to do now that we have the armor on.
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 Lord’s people.
 
My friends, that is how we take the battle to the enemy. We put the armor on and stand firm, and then pray to God to fight the battle for us. And as He fights and pushes the enemy back, only then can we move forward. 

So, what does it mean that God fights our battles for us?
Well, I’m glad you asked because God answers that question in His Word with the stories of old, when He was fighting Israel’s battles.
The stories found in the Old Testament are not just stories. They serve a very important purpose that the Apostle Paul talked about near the end of his letter to the Romans…
Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Everything that was written in the past refers to what we call the Old Testament. In Paul’s day, that was the only Scriptures they had written down. The New Testament was being written by him and others.
He’s saying here that these stories of old are not just stories, they are actually God using history to teach us. Isn’t that fascinating? It’s real history. Real people and places, just like we have today. But God, in His mysterious sovereign way, shaped all of it not just for the people who lived back then, but also to show us, today, what kind of God He is.  And Paul here says that they teach us endurance and give us encouragement so that we can have hope.
It is a hope in an amazing God, who not only saves us for eternity, but fights for us in the here and now.  And so, if we want to know what it means for God to fight for us, then we need to look at His track record with the people of Israel. 
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this before, but the way that God interacts with the generations of the nation of Israel in the stories of the OT is, in a very real sense, the same way that He interacts with each one of us on a personal level. If you read the whole story of the nation of Israel in the OT, you may very well see that it’s also the story of your own life – though on a smaller scale more in a spiritual rather than physical sense. I don’t think that is an accident.
And so, today, I’m going to share some of those stories with you.
And just to give you some context, so you don’t start wondering in a little bit why I’m covering all of this, what I’m talking about today is actually setting us up for what we will begin talking about for the next few weeks.
Over the past month or so, God has really been impressing on my heart the need for us to become a praying church. We need to be as devoted to prayer as we are to fellowship and the Word. Because, as I’ve already said –
it is through prayer that God moves.
It is through prayer that God fights for us.
It is through prayer that we truly come to know our Lord.
But the sad truth of the matter is that most of us do not know how to pray that way. We know how to say grace, or help our kids pray at bedtime. We know how to pray from the stage or in a small group. But we, and Im including me, have never really been trained on how to pray with POWER.  How to pray in the SPIRIT. How to pray the kind of prayers that Paul is talking about when he says in the context of Spiritual Warfare:
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
We simply don’t know how to do that…..YET.
That’s what I believe God is going to teach us over the course of this summer.
I believe He is preparing us for something big. 
So, what I’m talking about today, and what we are talking about for the next several weeks will not be just some general bible knowledge. What we are talking about today and the coming weeks is specifically targeted for us, here at Reality Church right here and right now. 
So, please pay attention and make every effort to be here for the next few weeks.
Next week we will start getting into the HOW TO PRAY. Today I want to show you WHY WE PRAY, by showing you what it looks like when God does the fighting for us, instead of us trying to do it ourselves.

AT THE RED SEA
The first story is what you saw in the video clip of the Ten Commandments, in the book of Exodus – The Egyptian Pharaoh had finally let Moses and the Israelites leave, but only after God sent ten catastrophic plagues and laid waste to Egypt, even killing Pharaoh’s first born son.  But shortly after they left, Pharaoh changed his mind and took his army and went after them. They caught up with them on the banks of the Red Sea.
We find the story of what happened next in Exodus 14. If you’ve never read this for yourself, you will notice the movie versions usually don’t stick exactly to the script. It’s ok to watch “bible based” movies, but make sure to always go back to the source so that you have the truth from God, not from Hollywood.
This won’t be on the slides, so just listen and imagine!
Exodus 14
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
 
There’s a reason why the Israelites are constantly reminded of this story throughout the generations. Because it is a grand display of what God can and will do for His people.  The parting of the Red Sea to make a path for the Israelites reminds me of one of my favorite verses:
Proverbs 3
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
When we submit to God through prayer, he makes our paths straight – even if that path is through the middle what seems like an impossible circumstance. 

JERICHO
Let me give you another one.
Fast forward from the Red Sea to the Jordan River. It’s now at least 40 years later, Moses is dead, and Joshua is the new leader and finally taking them into the promised land. But before they can settle down, they have to clear out the current wicked inhabitants with the first being the city of Jericho.  Jericho was surrounded by very high and thick walls. There was no way the Israelite army could break through them or even climb them. The best they would be able to do was a long siege, but God had different plans.
Joshua 6
1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
 
And that is exactly what they did. On the seventh day they marched around seven times and blew the trumpets and shouted, and the walls crashed down all around the city – with the exception of the place in the wall where Rahab lived – the woman who had helped the spies. Then the army went in and routed the city. God not only took care of that very large obstacle – He did it with precision. And all the Israelites had to do was some walking.
If God can do that with big thick walls of stone, do you really think there are any obstacles in your life He can’t handle?
After this began a long campaign of the Israelites taking out city after city. In each case, the battle was preceded by a statement from the Lord to the effect of
Joshua 8:1 (adjusted)
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack ________. For I have delivered into your hands the king of __________, his people, his city and his land.
And then the Israelites would attack and totally route the enemy without losing a single soldier.

SUN STAND STILL
In one battle, Joshua and his men were fighting against five kings who had aligned themselves. But this is what God did…
Joshua 10
11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
    and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
    and the moon stopped,
    till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
Pretty amazing stuff. The author was right that there hasn’t been a day like that before or after, but he was wrong in assuming that it was the only time the Lord listened to a human being. He’s still listening today, and the same power that made the sun stand still is the power available to us in the Holy Spirit when we pray.
Do you see what I’m getting at yet? “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Right?
Well, next is an example of what happens when we try to take matters into our own hands.

BIG MISTAKE
I said a minute ago that all of Joshua’s campaigns were fought without any Israelite casualties. By that I mean all the ones where God fought the battle for them.
There was actually one battle they tried to fight on their own that didn’t go so well, and it was ironically right after they had defeated Jericho.
Joshua 7
Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
It turns out that one of the men in the camp had taken some of the plunder from Jericho that God had specifically said not to. That sin, coupled with the clear absence of God telling Joshua to go fight, lead to their only loss. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only time that Joshua acted on his own understanding instead of consulting the Lord.
It just goes to show that there is nothing in life, no matter how seemingly trivial, that we should not talk with God about. He fights our battles for us, but only when we let Him. 

GIDEON
Now, fast forward several generations and we’re in the book of Judges. The people of Israel are now inhabiting the promised land, but they failed to get rid of all the former wicked inhabitants, so they are always having trouble with them. The book of Judges has story after story of the people falling into disobedience, getting captured or beaten up by an enemy, and then crying out to God for help. And each time, God sends a deliverer to rescue them. These people were called judges.
One such person was Gideon. In Gideon’s time, the place he lived was constantly under attack by the Midianites. They wouldn’t let them do anything, even grow food!  The Israelites cried out to God, and God came down in the form of an angel and called Gideon out to go fight the enemy. That part of the story is cool, but you’ll have to read it on your own in Judges 6. Basically, Gideon needed some convincing. But once he was convinced he gathered a large army to go fight the enemy.  Apparently it was too large for God’s liking.
Judges 7
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
So, God whittled the army down to only 300 men.  A few verses later, the enemy is described as…
12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
300 against an army too big to count. And no, this is not what that movie “300” was based on. That was 300 men fighting in their own strength, and they all died. Let’s see what happens when God fights for you.
16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled…
By the end of the day, other parts of Israel had joined in, and they completely routed the enemy. And it all began with only 300 men armed with trumpets and torches against an uncountable army.
Reminds me of David up against Goliath. Clearly outmatched from a Human standpoint, David knows who fights for him:
1 Samuel 17:45
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!”
As the saying goes, one person plus God equals a majority. “Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world.”

ELISHA
Speaking of Heaven’s Armies…
One more story from the Old Testament that is one of my favorites. I think it shows how God is not only awesome, but has a sense of humor as well.  This one is from long after the story of Gideon. Israel is now on it’s 10th or 11th king after King David and the famous ELISHA is the premier prophet of the time (not to be confused with Elijah, whom he replaced.) This is just one of many stories about Elisha, but I think it illustrates perfectly what David knew to be true, and what is still true today.
2 Kings 6
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
I love that story. The king of Aram gets all mad and sends his ARMY to kill one guy. Turns out it wasn’t just one guy. He was going up against the armies of God which filled the hills with horses and chariots of fire!!  But then instead of killing them all, Elisha asks God to help make fools of them.
And guess what? That army is still around. It’s hidden from sight for us, just like all of the reality of the spiritual world is hidden. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t here. There is an unseen battle going on all around us.
But it’s not a battle of equals. It’s not like there’s some epic battle between God and the devil, where the Devil has the edge most of the fight and God is some kind of underdog. It’s more like a battle between my foot and an ant. The ant only lives because I allow it. The ant cannot do a thing to me. And the moment I choose, he is a goner. And guess what, that’s exactly how it’s going to happen in the end.  (Warning! – Spoiler Alert!)
Revelation 20
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves.
The epic final battle. The war between good and evil will be settled once and for all in the showdown of showdowns. It’s going to be a fight for the ages!
But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
 
That’s the final battle. God steps on the ant. God wins. The devil never had a chance. Everyone always thinks the final battle will be this great showdown, but it won’t. It will be God swatting a fly. And as for the Devil himself…
 
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
And that is why Paul tells us to pray instead of attack.
Because it is through prayer that the armies of God are mobilized.
And they are much better fighters than you and I.

PETER
One more story that shows exactly what prayer can do, and this one comes from the New Testament.  This is shortly after the persecution breaks out of the early church and the Apostle Peter has been arrested and is awaiting execution.
Acts 12
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself,and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
Prayer brought an angel to free Peter from certain death. If any of those people in that house had decided to strap on their armor and go rescue Peter on their own, they would have likely gotten them both killed. Instead, they huddled together and called out to their God. And God answered. 

I hope you are getting the picture now. There is a reason why Paul tells us to “Pray continuously!” Because whenever we are NOT PRAYING, we might as well be trying to swim across the Red Sea, or climb Jericho’s walls, or sign up for the army of 300 in that movie.
But it’s more than just our personal battles that He will fight when we pray. Its so much bigger than that! God uses our prayers to fight the ultimate battle.  Let me show you…
This is a passage you’ve likely heard me reference many times because it is largely this passage that we base how we do church on.
Acts 2
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
That’s the description of the early church. When it was brand new and uncorrupted. Before there were any hierarchies or doctrinal debates. This was simply the result of the fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit on all who believed in the resurrected Jesus.
Much of the things in this description we have been doing very well over the past year. But there is one thing that I believe we still lack, and it’s the one thing that makes all the difference in the world.
Like the early church, we are devoted to the apostle’s teaching (God’s Word), to fellowship, and to breaking of bread (eating). We have even shown that we have the heart to give to those who have need, both inside and outside the church. We meet together often, and eat together in each others’ homes. We are almost the picture of the early church, except for the one thing we lack.
Prayer.
That is not to say we don’t pray. We pray every Sunday, and before meetings, and in our Life Groups. I’m sure that on individual levels, we all pray to some extent – probably some more than others. But I don’t think we are praying in the way that Paul is talking about in Ephesians or the way the early church prayed here in Acts.
Because if we were, I believe we would see exactly what the early church saw where it says that “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
You see, to me, that sounds a lot like, “The Lord fought the battle for lost souls for this church resulting in people being saved on a daily basis.”
Translation: BECAUSE THAT CHURCH WAS DEVOTED TO PRAYER, PEOPLE WERE SAVED.
That’s not to say the other things are not important. Devotion to God’s Word and to fellowship, and breaking of bread are vital! But those are not the things that mobilize the armies of God! It’s PRAYER! And not just personal prayer, but powerful prayer that calls on God to do the heavy lifting for us. 
 
And it is that kind of prayer that God has shown me we are missing here at Reality, and the statistics prove it. 
And so, we are going to do something about it.
I’m going to get real human on you now. Some have you heard me say the catch phrase that “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the ones He calls.” Well, it’s true. God didn’t make me your pastor because I have a Doctorate in spiritual perfection. Honestly, much of the time I feel like a high-school dropout. I feel like Gideon’s army of 300 against the masses – having no business being on the battlefield other than the Lord Almighty said “GO, I’ll be with you.” That’s the only reason I can stand up here each week is because He does all the work. And through this process He teaches me more than I teach you. And every time I start to think I have a good bead on things, He reminds me of just how little I really know. But He doesn’t leave me that way. He shows me where I’m lacking, then He shows me how to fix it.
And over the past few weeks, He has been showing me that we as a church, and I as your leader have a lot to learn about prayer.
So, we are going to learn together.
Which is why next Sunday we are starting a new series titled “The Power of Prayer.” In that series you will get to hear from not only me, but also our pastor-in-training Matt Erisman, and our been-a-pastor-for-a-long-time Sandy Martin. I really appreciate both of these guys, but in our current study, Sandy is the resident expert and will be a great help to us learning how to be a praying church.
I urge you all to make every effort to attend these services over the next few weeks as these are messages specifically for us in this season of our life as a church. Being a praying church doesn’t only mean we have a praying staff. It means that all the people of the church are just as devoted to prayer as they are to God’s word, fellowship, and eating.
And so, as we venture into this somewhat uncharted territory, I’m going to ask of you the same thing that Paul asked the Ephesians in the verse we’ve so far left off of this passage about the armor of God and praying.
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 Lord’s people.19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
I’m asking all of you to pray for me, and Matt, and Sandy, and Rachel, and all of your leaders here at Reality that God would give us the words to speak and the courage to speak them as we go on this journey together.
I’m excited to see what God is going to do. And I’m excited to be doing it with you.
Let’s Pray.