If I could pick out one thing that Jesus—as well as Paul and the rest of the apostles—constantly emphasized, it would be prayer. In the Scriptures, we are charged to “watch and pray,” to “pray without ceasing,” that “intercessions . . . be made for all men” and so on.
Most followers of Christ are convinced that prayer is a vital part of our Christian life. Through prayer, we communicate with God. As we petition Him, in His love He meets our needs, heals our sicknesses and delivers us from Satan’s attacks. In fact, we know from Scripture that prayer is our mightiest weapon to defeat the enemy. As we pray, all heaven fights for us.
Amazingly, despite our vast knowledge about the importance of prayer, we struggle constantly to find time for it. Prayer usually ends up near the bottom of our priority list.
There is a reason for this! You see, the devil hates prayer. He hates it more than choir practice, seminars, conferences and Christian concerts. He will do everything in his power to stop us from engaging in this dangerous activity. In fact, prayer is so destructive to him that he is more than happy to see us choose instead to listen to a sermon, read a Christian book or work for charity.
However, if the devil can’t hinder us from praying, he uses several other effective tactics to zap the power out of our prayers. One of those tactics is this: Without us knowing, he slips in slowly and makes us believe that all these great victories have happened because of us and our prayers. For example, this endangered training center was saved because we knew how to defeat the devil. The radio broadcast received 10,000 letters this month because we made it happen through our intercession.
Unless we are very careful and extremely sensitive, we can end up at a place in which even our prayers can become a major trap. You see, when things are happening, the enemy tempts us to trust in our prayer activity, our expertise on spiritual warfare, our elite group and our dynamite church leadership. Suddenly our confidence is placed in ourselves and what we are able to accomplish instead of in the Lord alone. Thus, our prayers have turned into a work of the flesh, something God detests and always rejects.
Our prayers and intercession are vitally important to reach the lost world. There is no substitute for pulling down the strongholds of the enemy. Therefore, we must keep our weapon of prayer sharp and effective at all times, which happens only when we examine our hearts daily to see if we are placing our confidence in anything other than Jesus alone. God seeks followers and intercessors who believe with all their hearts that it is “ ‘not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
A few minutes of prayer with total dependence on the Lord are worth more than days of weeping in our own strength. Don’t forget the priorities. We may cry out all day long and see nothing happen, yet Elijah prayed a few words and fire came down from heaven!