Praying Through Strongholds
We wrestle not against flesh and blood. It’s not people that constitute the battle.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing all right? I trust everything’s okay at your house. Bless your heart. Nice to be back with you. I want to go on, if I may, in discussing the areas that need what Paul calls “striving together in prayer.” He said, “Pray for me as a person. The devil doesn’t fight you as long as you pray in generalities. But when you get definite about other people and their needs, then you’re in for a fight. All sorts of interruptions will come, all sorts of stray thoughts will come- will gather across the horizon of your mind. You’ll realize that you are being opposed when you start praying earnestly in detail for somebody else’s need.
So he says, “Strive together with me.” That word “strive” is a Greek verb “agonize” — “agonize together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Then of course there’s opposition from unbelievers. He said, “Pray that I might be delivered from them that do not believe who live in Judea.” And so you have to face the fact that there are some people who do not know and do not want to know our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When I was president of Youth for Christ, I visited of course, many countries of the world in that connection and in one of them I was speaking with a young man who headed up our work there.
And I said, “You’ve come through some rather difficult experiences recently, they tell me.” “Oh, yes,” he said, “I was nearly killed in a riot in such and such a city.” “Well,” I said, “tell me about it if you want to.” And he said, “Well,” he said, “it’s a painful memory but,” he said, “I’ll tell you.” and he went on to recount the fact that there was organized opposition to the gospel in this European country in which he was ministering to the young people. And finally on one occasion, after he had finished a meeting, he came out of the auditorium and to his dismay, found a huge crowd of people, all of them brandishing clubs and various kinds of weapons and shouting and very abusive.
Well, there was nothing for it. He had somehow to get on out and get through and so he began to pick his way through the crowd while people all around him were hurling shouts and insults and obscenities. And finally, there was one young person who confronted our man and who said, “I would like to kill you.” And our young man said, “Why? What have I ever done to you?” “Oh,” he said, “it’s not you,” he says, “It’s because you preach that Book and that Jesus.” He pointed to the Bible. “It’s not you,” he said, “it’s because you preach that Book and that Jesus.”
Now, there in oversimplified terms, my dear friend, you have the basis for the opposition that you will face from time to time from unbelievers. One of the things that will take the pressure out of the situation is to realize that they’re not really against you as a person so much as they are against the Lord Jesus Christ and the whole concept of salvation by grace through faith. People are not against you so much as they are against the Christ whom you represent. And our Lord Jesus said, “If they’ve persecuted me, they’ll persecute you; if they’ve rejected me, they’ll reject you.”
I think we have to accept as a fact not necessarily as a personal affront. Don’t’ get upset by it and hurt by it but accept as a fact the idea that the unsaved heart cannot rest until it is organized in opposition to God. That is the nature of the unsaved heart. And so you’ll find opposition from time to time but thank God in answer to prayer, that opposition can be not only modified but eliminated. Yes, it can. Oh, how thankful I am that in answer to prayer, God does change the attitude of people who have been opposing, turns them right around and brings them to Himself.
Dear friend, would you dare to start to pray for someone who has been your critic and your enemy and who has opposed you in the work of the Lord? Would you dare to begin to pray in earnest, yes, agonizing prayer for such a person? If you do and when you do, I can guarantee you that God will begin to work. Back in Venezuela some years ago, I ministered to a group of dear missionaries. You know missionaries are the finest people in all the world. I have lived long enough to realize that God sends His finest noblemen and noblewomen to the mission field.
Well, anyway, it was my privilege to minister to them throughout a whole week of meetings. They were holding what they called their “field conference.” Once a year, all the different missionaries in that district would get together for Bible Study and fellowship and prayer and renewal. And I was the visiting fireman, so to speak. I came across a number of very real needs in the lives of these dear ones. One of which was that there were two lady missionaries who came to that conference with their resignations from the mission ready to submit.
They were discouraged and that discouragement had permeated the fabric of their life together so far that they were really at odds with each other. You know, you can stand almost anything if the person with whom you are living is with you in fellowship but if you get out of sorts with the person that lives with you, then life is indeed a grueling and difficult process. And so their discouragement had penetrated the very fabric of their life together and they were at odds with each other and that had to get settled first which along about the middle of the week, it did.
Now, there were some question as to whether, now that God had gotten them back together in their own spiritual life and fellowship, whether these two lady missionaries would now continue with their plan to resign from the mission. I suppose it was about Thursday of that week that I spoke with the entire group on the truth that you and I have been considering here that there are some things about which you can and should successfully strive, agonize in prayer until you get the answer. And I said to them, “if you will pray about anything consistently over a period of time, it’s going to happen.”
And then I asked them this question: What is it that you really want God to do in your life? What is it concerning which you could say, “Lord, if I don’t get this, I’ll almost die. I have to have this?” What is there in your life that is that great a desire? Many people don’t get answers to prayer because they don’t ask for anything, as you know. So I gave them this challenge. I said, “Write down on a piece of paper what you are willing to believe God for and pray for day by day during the coming year.”
Well, the two lady missionaries talked with each other, wrote down a few things, and later on shared them with me. Their main request had to do with the fact that the person in their little city who was in charge of all religious observances was so against them that he had been setting up even the little children to harass them so that whenever they would try to hold a service, bands of youngsters would come running by each one throwing a stone at their little place of worship and all of those stones rattling on a tin roof, you know, can make a horrible racket and so it would be a destructive kind of interruption every time they try to hold a service. And this sort of thing had gotten to them as I mentioned to you.
Now, they’re going to pray that God would somehow turn this around. Well, I encouraged them. The week finished. I went on back to the United States and the work in Venezuela continued for another year. A year later, I came back for some meetings and now it was my privilege again to meet the two lady missionaries. Do you know what I heard? Now, they were smiling. Now, they were happy. Now, they were joyous, really.
And I said, “Well, what’s with you? What happened to you?” “Oh,” they said, “you’d never guess.” They said, “The person who was in charge of all of the religious observances in our little city has issued an order that we are to be left alone and nobody is to bother us, that we are good people and that he is in favor of us.” Hallelujah. Isn’t that great? Opposition, beloved, can be turned around to the glory of God and you don’t have to lift a finger. All you and I do is to realize that our warfare is not carnal but spiritual to the tearing down of strongholds, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
We wrestle not against flesh and blood. It’s not people that constitute the battle. It is spiritual opposition directed by Satan. He said, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. So,” he says,” take the armor of God.” I‘m talking to somebody who’s had some opposition and you’re discouraged and you may have been embittered by the constant barrage of opposition that seems to be leveled against you and you’re thinking of giving up.
Oh, dear friend, whoever and wherever you are, don’t give up. It’s always too soon to quit. Instead, begin to pray in faith for your opposition. Begin to pray in faith for your opposition. God will turn them around. Hallelujah for that. Now he said, “Now, I want also for you to pray that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted by the saints.” He was bringing them a love offering and I’m sure that they were going to cash the check but there is more to it than that. Paul the apostle was known as the apostle to the Gentiles and this would be an automatic affront to people in Jerusalem who felt that the gospel was for the descendants of Abraham only, God’s chosen people.
And so there was an immediate source of friction there between Paul and believers in Jerusalem. And so, you have another basis for prayer, believers’ non-acceptance. God can make other people acceptive of you in answer to prayer. Well, we’ll get along a little farther with this the next time we have opportunity.
Dear Heavenly Father today, make us successful prayers, in Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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