Obedience and the Necessity of Prayer
Recently, as part of my church planting training, I was tasked to create a ‘prayer battle plan;’ an intentional document that would help stay focused and obedient to the will of God in my life. Trying to plant a church without fully depending on the power of prayer would be like trying to swim across the ocean without a life jacket, it just wouldn’t work.
We see the necessity of prayer to follow the will of God constantly throughout scripture. One such Biblical scene is the Garden of Gethsemane found in Matthew 26. What’s evident within the passage is the clear-cut distinction between the one who prays (Jesus), and those who do not (Disciples). The differing outcomes are stark:
What’s clear here is that prayer is the weapon by which the weakness of the flesh is defeated and the willingness of the Spirit wins.
Jesus says so himself in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
This brings me to a challenge for myself, and a challenge for you:
To what extent do you rely on prayer to follow God’s will?
Perhaps you can answer that question, or maybe you can’t. While I mentally understand the importance of prayer, I too often neglect its power in my life. Taking the time to create an intentional ‘battle plan’ of sorts, was a helpful exercise for me, and it’s likely to be a helpful exercise for you as well.
To create a ‘prayer battle plan,’ I spent some time walking through Genesis 3 which tells of many of Satan’s most brazen attacks against humankind and therefore the will of God. While Satan’s strategies and methods are revealed to us in Genesis 3, they are certainly still used by him today. As an attack from the enemy is written, I’ve responded to that attack/strategy with a prayer.
(All scripture is written in italics and my prayers are written in bold type.)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
Father, I ask that you would not allow me to be deceived by Satan, that you would lead me and my family into confident knowledge of the truth of who you are…that we would be unconquerable by the enemy (Ephesians 6:11).
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Father, help me to know what you said. Give me and my family a knowledge of your Word and therefore a passion for studying and knowing your Word (Psalm 119:11)
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Father, help me never place my own authority over yours. I have no authority, all that I am is yours. Whatever you say is right and good and just. Help me to trust your word endlessly (Isaiah 55:8-9).
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Father, help me to never lead another into sin (Matthew 15:6).
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Father, when I sin, help me to not isolate myself from community and from brothers who I can confess to (James 5:16).
9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
Father, help me remember that you are the God who comes after us, that you loved us so much you sent Jesus to rescue us (John 3:16).
10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Father, when I sin, remind me that Jesus paid my sin penalty already, and that you love me and don’t desire for me to hide from you (1 John 2:1).
11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Father, cause me to listen to your voice above and beyond all others (Psalm 25:4-5).
12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Father, when I sin, give me the humility and honesty to take responsibility for my actions before you and before others (Proverbs 28:13).
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Father, keep me from being deceived. Give me wisdom and discernment (Jude 1:24).
14 “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and every beast of the field! On your belly will you go, and dust you will eat, all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Father, brand in my mind and heart the fact that you have won the victory over Satan and and death through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55)
16 To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary tof your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
17 And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Father, remind me that sin is serious and that it has consequences that can not only last a lifetime but for all eternity (Leviticus 4:27)
20 The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Father, remind me always and above all that you covered our sins through the ultimate sacrifice of your Son Jesus and as a result we will once again experience perfect unity with you through Christ (Matthew 27:51).
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.