The disciple of Jesus Christ needs to quickly learn to pray. Following conversion, the training in prayer needs to be intense and brief with a steep learning curve. The reason that this is the case is that the burdens of life can quickly become towering tidal waves and can escalate to the overwhelming quite suddenly. Thus the believer must be well-trained in prayer and must be practiced in using the weapons of spiritual warfare. Storms rise suddenly and attacks are usually both unexpected and vicious.
I urge every disciple of Christ to quickly learn to pray and to receive the comfort, protection and defense that the Lord can provide. You do not want to be untrained and unprepared when the enemy suddenly attacks or when the fears and difficulties of life suddenly overwhelm you.
The danger for the disciple in America is that we can easily be lulled to lethargy by the appearance of peacefulness and prosperity. In the past, America has been a land where even true Christians have become soft and dull because there has been no persistent persecution of believers here and everything seemed safe. In this environment of relative peace, the believer can forget that: a) we have been given a mission by our King to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20) and to be His witnesses in the whole world (Acts 1:8); b) there is a war raging against Christ and against His church; and c) we have an enemy, Satan, who hates us and who seeks to destroy us (John 10:10). This forgetfulness leaves us wide open to attack and makes us vulnerable to collapse and to surrender in the heat of the battle. We become a casualty of being casual about prayer. One minute the believer is drifting along in his safe bubble and the next moment the serenity of his world is shattered by daunting conflict and overwhelming adversity. Therefore the believer must learn to pray early in the walk of faith and must learn to use the weapons of our warfare (2 Cor. 10:4) and wield them skillfully.
The disciple of Jesus Christ is (usually) given the blessing of seasons of relative calm and peace. These seasons must not be wasted, but should be used as times of training and strengthening. It is in the green tree (Luke 23:31) that the disciple must gain strength. Instead of being lulled to sleep by the appearance of peacefulness and prosperity, the disciple must make the most of those times (Ephesians 5:15-16) to become mighty in prayer.
Several Scripture passages can be applied to this lesson:
Luke 23:31 – “If you do these things in the green tree, what will you do in the dry?” My paraphrase would be, “If you are frightened and anxious when things are basically calm and prosperous, what will you do when Satan launches his vicious attack against you?” When the tree is green (in the good times), you should use that time to prepare for the day of battle (in the dry tree).
Psalm 32:6 – “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You at a time when You may be found. Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.” Learn to pray before there is a flood of great waters (danger and threat and adversity). Learning to pray means that you learn how to call upon the Lord so that He will protect you when the floods pour down.
Isaiah 55:6 – “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” There is an urgency for learning to pray. We must seek the LORD while He may be found, not when we feel like seeking Him. The LORD will not always be available, so we must seek Him while He is open to being found. Praying is seeking the LORD and is also calling upon Him.
Matthew 7:25, 27 – The winds and the rain and the floods are certainly going to come. The question is, “Will you be ready when they come so that you are ready to pray with power?” Do you know the Lord well enough to pray to Him during the flood and the storms?
Jeremiah 12:5 – “If you have run with the footmen and grown tired, how will you compete with the horses?” You thought that you could handle all the difficulties, because you thought they were all pretty limited in their threats. Now you realize that there are many threats and challenges that are much too difficult for you to handle. For the threats of life, you need to know how to pray to the Lord.
It is sad to see a believer who has trusted in his own abilities to handle life’s problems come face to face with overwhelming problems much too big to handle on his own. The person thought that life would never give them crushing problems too big for human solution, but would always give them the under-handed softball pitches, so they never learned to call upon the Lord with desperate cries for help. The person believed that somehow going through the motions would be good enough for avoiding the major catastrophes of life. If they stayed in the middle of the road and were decent people, God would smooth out their way. Since they believed everything was okay and always would be, they never learned to enter the fiery furnace or the lion’s den and so they never learned to pray like they needed the Lord to deliver or all would be lost. For that is the case. If the Lord does not deliver, then all is lost. We are all defenseless in the face of many of life’s threats and difficulties and we must learn to pray and call upon the Lord to give us His power and might.
Brothers and sisters, take the time to learn to pray as a weapon and learn to wield that weapon skillfully. Let the halls of heaven be very familiar with your voice.
SDG rmb 7/30/2016