What are we battling against

If we are going to war in our prayer closets, what are we setting our sights on?  The things that we hate and fear,  or the things that are the enemies of God?

I see a lot of prayer requests about sickness or death – healing in the flesh – but much fewer requests about healing eternal in the spiritual areas of life that matter most. I see requests and seeking of physical prosperity – security by earthly means – but much fewer requests about strengthening faith in God to provide what He has already promised.

If we are going to war in our prayer closets,  shouldn’t we know the enemy whom we should be targeting? And do we believe the true enemy to be who our deceitful hearts tell us to wage war against, or do we look to God for His guidance regarding who our true enemies should be? If we serve the Lord, aren’t His enemies clearly our true enemies that are the real threat to us and our brothers and sisters?

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

So clearly, these are big on the Lord’s hit list:

1) Pride
2) Deceit
3) Treachery
4) Wickedness
5) Gossip/False Testimony
6) Dissention/Division/Envy/Jealousy

1 John 2:15-17 ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever

He again tells us not to love the world:

1) desires of the flesh
2) desires of the eyes
3) pride in possessions

Those things are passing away.

According to this, what many pray for as “blessings” are “not from the Father” but are “from the world”. So we might begin asking ourselves, who are they praying to if they are asking for those things to be given that are “from the world”? The Father has a name for this worldly, fleshly provider and it is mammon. These are not the “good gifts”, the “eternal gifts”, the “true riches” that God has stored up for His children.

If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Luke 16:11-13 ESV

The “unrighteous wealth”, it is “that which is another’s” and we are tested in whether or not we are faithful with it –  being good stewards, using it for God’s glory,  bringing Him Honor and glory – or whether we are enticed by the desires of the flesh,  the desires of our eyes,  and the pride of possessions.

These enemies of God, are they our enemies as well? Are we doing battle against these enemies in our prayer closets?

And isn’t it clear that our enemies are not our brothers and sisters?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV

And what enemies are keeping our brothers and sisters from entering into the Kingdom of God?  Aren’t these clearly the enemies of God’s wish that none should perish? Shouldn’t these enemies be targeted in our prayer closets? How do we recognize when these enemies are at work in our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters?

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 8:7 ESV
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

Evidence of the work of the enemy, evidence of sin,  of sickness leading to eternal spiritual death:
1) sexual immorality
2) impurity
3) sensuality
4) idolatry
5) sorcery
6) enmity
7) strife
8) jealousy
9) fits of anger
10) rivalries
11) dissensions
12) divisions
13) envy
14) drunkenness
15) orgies

Be on lookout for this evidence of the enemy, as if standing guard on a watch tower. And let your battle cries to heaven be heard for spiritual reinforcements, and let your gentle encouragement be a warning to those ensnared and in need of healing.

We and our brothers and sisters need to be delivered from these enemies of God,  and that is why we do battle against these giants with the stone of our prayers.

1 John 2:4-6 ESV
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

We want to see the captives set free so they will live and will “walk in the way He walked”.

Romans 8:13 ESV
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Yes, we seek lives freed from the bondage of these captors, so that we all are growing and becoming more like our teacher, with our minds set upon the higher things,  not things of the world or of the flesh. 

2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So put on your armor,  Child of God,  it is time to do battle, now that the light has been sinned upon our true enemies.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT

In battle, do we lift up our eyes, or just charge blindly?

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord . Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my Lord say to his servant?”
Joshua 5:13-14 ESV

How often do we see the world as men and women of flesh and blood who are either for us or against us?  But the Bible tells us about our real enemies –

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV

Joshua “lifted up his eyes and looked” and gained something very valuable for His battle. He didn’t charge blindly into battle because the enemy was nearby – he “lifted up his eyes and looked”.

This commander of heaven’s armies demonstrates to Joshua clearly that his loyalty is to God, not to a nation of people  – when Joshua asks a question expecting an A or B answer and instead gets a whole new answer outside his original frame of reference.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come? 
My help comes from the Lord ,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 ESV

You see,  sometimes our frame of reference reverts to this physical world and the ways that it operates and we don’t have the spiritual vision or awareness to understand what it means from that higher perspective. If this battle was just about one people against another, then men receive glory from each other for the victory. But Joshua was not called to receive glory for himself or even for Israel. He wasn’t called to be loyal to men but to God. The glory of the battle was meant to be for God.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

When we lift our thoughts out of the distractions of this world and remember that we are not at battle against men of flesh and blood, but that we do battle against principalities and evil forces that work through those around us who are still in chains of bondage – we begin to realize that it’s about the Lord being glorified in our choices, our decisions,  our reactions.

Each moment of opposition felt from another person is actually an opportunity to show them love, mercy,  forgiveness, gentleness,  kindness, and self control in return. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that Christ has won yet another battle in our lives and that we are not simply walking in the flesh,  reacting the way that the world expects.

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12-13 ESV

When struck in the face by another, when accused unjustly, when shamed and spit upon by the world, the world reacts in kind – but Christ calls us out to be set apart as a peculiar people. He tells us to turn the other cheek. He tells us to give and love even to those who would steal from us. He tells us that lost souls in need of love are more valuable to win over as friends of Christ than to let die as enemies.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:4-7 ESV

Yes, He tells us to pick up our cross and bear it for one another. Not to bear it for those we think are deserving of His love and forgiveness,  because none of us, are deserving. Not me. Not you.

But we love because He first loved us.

Our battle is not against one another.

And our loyalty is not to self.

He is Lord, He is Savior, He is Redeemer, and He has won the victory!

To God be the Glory in our lives today.