"There’s just no reason to pray. It won’t change anything. God’s just going to do what He wants. Besides, I’m too messed up. I bet God won’t even listen to me. Why should I even pray?"
You know what slays energetic prayer? Lies. Lies we hear. Lies we believe. Lies we tell ourselves.
Fact: the Lord calls His children to pray. Don’t believe me? Luke writes that Jesus told a certain parable because: "He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” (Luke 18:1 NASB)
Another fact: prayer is spiritual warfare. Want proof? Ephesians 6 gives us our list of spiritual armor and ends with: and take the helmet ... and the sword ..., PRAYING at all times in the Spirit, with all PRAYER and SUPPLICATION..."Ephesians 6:17-18a ESV. Prayer is the activity for the armor.
OK, good. Now we’re all on the same page. Let’s move on. Past the lies and past the apathy.
If we’re going to participate in offensive, kingdom-rattling prayer, what is our next step?
We need to get dressed, that’s what.
To be ready for our offensive prayer battles, we must "Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning “(Luke 12:35 ESV). Whether a woman who, "dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” (Proverbs 31:17), or a man who needs to "Dress for action like a man” (Job 38:3), we all need to be prepared. Prepared to fight. Prepared to protect ourselves and those we love.
If I want to stand firm and pray powerfully I must be dressed for battle. Each piece of spiritual armor is vital for offensive prayer. To be effective we must use it all. The first piece listed in Ephesians 6 is the Belt of Truth, so let's start there. First we’ll cover some truth about TRUTH and why it matters. Then we’ll look at truth about prayer.
The Belt OF Truth
Powerful prayer requires the Belt of Truth, because we need protection from all the false accusations that assail us. Our own doubts lie to us. Also, fear, worry, anger, bitterness, voices not known for truth-telling, block prayer. They oppose faith and drown hope.
Plus, we need protection from our enemy, who is a liar. Jesus says Satan, “…does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” If we don’t wrap ourselves in Truth we are wide open to his lies.
Being a prayer warriors requires truth. Let’s examine the advantages of truth.
If we are going to belt ourselves up with truth, we need to understand all that truth means. What’s so pivotal about truth for our prayer life? Let’s go to the Source to find out:
Truth gives freedom. By planting our feet in truth and abiding (or living) in it, we experience freedom. Think how much more effective our praying would be if we are no longer shackled by fear or bound by bitterness. Freedom leads to powerful prayer.
John 8:31-32- So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Truth comes from the Lord. The Holy Spirit only speaks truth. He speaks truth to us and causes us to speak truth. Have you ever faced a situation where you had no idea how to pray? I have. As we strap on the Holy Spirit, we are filled with His truth, and we will consequently pray truth.
John 15:26, 27a - "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you will also bear witness…”
Truth from Jesus grows earnest, brotherly love for others. There’s no better platform from which to pray for others. But since people sometimes struggle with one another, we also need to apply truth during conflict.
1 Peter 1:22 - Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
Truth about others helps us fight the enemy instead of each other. Struggling relationships are often our biggest prayer need. We must speak TRUTH to and about our “neighbors,”— from the people who live next door, to the ones we share a house with. All that “up close and personal” allows us to easily get angry with those people (you know- the ones we love the most.) When in conflict, I struggle to pray, other than prayers that God would fix, or bring conviction, or strike that person with lightening… But fighting with my loved ones just gives Satan an opportunity. How do I offensively fight my enemy instead?
By putting away falsehood.
Lie: He/She ALWAYS does this, or NEVER does that.
Lie: He/She did this because (insert worst possible assumption about the situation.)
Lie: He/She has a huge speck in his/her eye, and I have no logs in my own.
When I strap on the belt of truth before I pray and ask the Lord to inform my prayers, everything shifts. My focus changes. The Lord’s priorities replace mine. His truth overtakes my judgementalism. My mind speaks truth about my “neighbors” and I pray with power.
Ephesians 4:25-27 - Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Replace Lies About Prayer With Truth About Prayer
We need truth to pray effectively. And to guard ourselves against lies about prayer itself, we must believe what the Lord says about prayer.
Lie #1: Prayer doesn’t do anything.
Truth #1: God says prayer works.
I Corinthians 1:10b-11a- And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers …
James 5:16: 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. (NASB)
God ALLOWS us to help with our prayers! That’s amazing. We can accomplish much through prayer, not because of who we are or how we pray. But because God!
Lie #2: I’m too __________ (fill in with favorite excuse: broken, sinful, ungodly, unloving, messed up.)
Truth #2: God says He hears our prayers.
Psalm 102:17- he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.
I John 5:14- This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (NASB)
Our loving Heavenly Father hears our every prayer, no matter how wretched we feel. We can pray with confidence that He HEARS US! It all rests on Him, not us.
Lie #3: This is too small to bother God about.
Truth #3: Nothing’s too small for the Lord.
Psalm 147:4- He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Matthew 10:29-31- Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
The Lord who is not confounded by the immensity of the universe and who had named every star, also knows when a single sparrow falls. He’s counted your every detail, like the number of hairs on your head. Nothing is too small for His notice.
Lie #4: I’ve already prayed and nothing happened so there’s no point.
Truth #4: Scripture gives no time limit to prayer.
Colossians 4:2- Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Romans 12:12- Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:17- pray without ceasing,
Steadfast. Constant. Without ceasing.
Persistent prayer is the Biblical model for the “how long” of prayer. There’s never instruction for when to quit. If we’re breathing, we should be praying. Let the Lord determine the timetable. We’re only in charge of our own obedience.
Lie #5: I don’t know what to pray, so I can’t pray.
Truth #5: We have an interpreter to translate our confusion into effective prayer.
Romans 8:26- Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Ever feel like all you can do is moan, groan, and cry? Good news — there’s an Interpreter for that! The Holy Spirit helps us when we feel weakest, and gives words to our deepest prayers. You know, the prayers our own words feel insufficient to express. We just pray and let Him deal with the what to say.
Putting On Our Belt
Let’s start praying from a place of truth. Let’s wrap ourselves in truth. Let’s speak truth. It’s where we start from.
And spiritual armor starts with the Belt. It’s the first piece of armor because it holds all the other pieces in place, ready for use. Let’s start with TRUTH.
Next week we put on our Breastplate of Righteousness.
Every time you feel discouraged or say or angry stop and ask the Lord what truths need to replace the lies you are believing. PUT ON TRUTH! It changes everything.
Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 1 Samuel 12:23
Armor Of God
All Scripture from ESV, unless noted. Emphasis added.