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THE CHRISTIAN’S GREATEST BATTLE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 19, 2012

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).


I have heard many sermons on the warrior’s armor in Ephesians 6:12-17. But I do not remember hearing one that fully captured what the Apostle Paul was talking about in this section of Scripture. I may have heard one, but I don’t remember it. To fully understand this passage, we need to see that we are told to put on the armor of God for a specific reason – “to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). The word “against” appears five times in Ephesians 6:11 and 12. From our text we learn three great truths about prayer that will defeat our enemy, Satan.

I. First, constant and persistent prayer is necessary because there is a Devil.

We are told to stand “against” the Devil. We are told that we are not wrestling and fighting “against” flesh and blood. We are fighting “against” “principalities,” “against powers,” “against the rulers of the darkness of this world,” “against spiritual wickedness in high places.” These are different categories of demons that can only be defeated by prayer. Commenting on Ephesians 6:12, Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

      We are in a spiritual battle. The Devil has in battle array his minions arranged by ranks. It says we are to wrestle against them. This speaks of the hand-to-hand encounter with the spiritual forces of wickedness...There is a demonic world around us and it is manifesting itself at the present hour...We have the enemy located and identified. That enemy is spiritual. It is Satan who heads up his demonic forces. Now we need to recognize where the battle is. I think the church has largely lost sight of the spiritual battle (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, pp. 279-280; note on Ephesians 6:12).

Whether you know it or not, we are in a great battle against Satan and his demons. There is no way that we can win this battle in our own strength. We must put on the whole armor of God by faith – and then go out and fight against Satan and the demons. The great Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) had much to say about Satan. I am lifting out a few lines that Luther wrote about the Devil in his famous hymn,

For still our ancient foe,
   Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
   And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

And though this world, with devils filled,
   Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
   His truth to triumph through us...
(“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther, 1483-1546).

But how can we triumph over the Devil and his demon hosts? There is no other way except by the power of prayer! Prayer is the battle! We battle against demons and Satan in prayer!

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

The enemy is Satan and his demons. We come against them in prayer. Prayer is the battle!

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
   This is my heart-cry day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way;
   Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
(“Teach Me to Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).

Thus, we see that constant and persistent prayer is needed because there is a Devil. Satan is mighty, and he never rests. If we neglect constant prayer the Devil will succeed in stopping us from winning the lost and getting them to stay in our church. That is the first point – constant prayer is necessary or our evangelism will not produce lasting converts in our church.

II. Second, constant and persistent prayer is necessary because it is the only way to get what we need.

The Apostle James made that very clear when he said,

“Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).

These words show why our evangelism produces only a few real converts who stay in the church. Why is it that only a few are converted? “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” Neglect of constant and persistent prayer is the reason that we don’t have more converts who stay in our church.

The Apostles made prayer the most important part of their ministry. When the daily work of the church was pressing in on them, the Apostles said,

“We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

“We will give ourselves continually to prayer.” The Apostle Paul said that much of his time was spent in prayer. He said that he prayed for the church at Thessalonica “night and day praying exceedingly” (I Thessalonians 3:10). He told Timothy, “that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers” (II Timothy 1:3).

By his practice of constant and persistent prayer, the Apostle Paul was following the example of Christ. We are told that Christ,

“...rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).

Again, we are told that Christ,

“...went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).

The words “pray” and “prayer” are used at least 25 times in the short record of Christ’s life given in the four Gospels. And His prayer is mentioned in several other places where the words “pray” and “prayer” are not used. Jesus devoted much of His time and energy to prayer. A man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer is not following the example of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

After Jesus ascended back to the right hand of God in Heaven, He began His great work of prayer for us. We are told that,

“...he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Christ is able to save us, not only because He died on the Cross, but also because He lives in Heaven continually praying for us. He lives “to make intercession for us,” to pray for us. Prayer is the main thing Jesus is doing today. We are saved because He is praying for us. The Apostle Paul said that Christ “is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

If you and I want to have fellowship with Christ we too must spend much time in prayer. I am sure that Christianity would have been wiped out long ago if Christ were not praying for us. There were only about one million Christians in China when the Communists drove out all foreign missionaries in the early 1950s. But today there are well over 100 million Christians in China. In spite of the terror and persecution that the Communists used to destroy Christianity, there has been a 10,000% increase in the number of Christians in China in the past 60 years. This could not possibly have happened if Christ were not living in Heaven “to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). We have reports which tell us that the largest number of Muslims in history are now becoming Christians. When they trust Jesus, these former Muslims are often tortured and killed for their faith. They live under constant threat of persecution, and yet they come to Christ by the thousands. This could not possibly happen if Christ were not living in Heaven “to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

What has happened in China and the Muslim world is the result of the prayers of Christ, and the prayers of thousands of Christians in the free world as well. And God calls us to join in fellowship with Jesus, and prayer warriors everywhere, in the ministry of intercessory prayer. If we want to see more young people converted and added to our church we must take time, and plenty of it, to go alone to God in prayer. We must make it a daily habit to pray for the conversion of those we bring in. Pray that God will make you a prayer warrior, who spends much time in prayer for the lost people we bring to church. All of the great soul winners in history have been men and women of prayer. They differed from one another in many ways. But they have all been alike in this – they were all men and women who spent much time in prayer for the lost to be saved.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
   Here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

Sing it!

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
   Here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

III. Third, constant and persistent prayer is necessary because it is the way to receive mercy and grace to help us in time of need.

The words of the Apostle in Hebrews 4:16 show us how to receive mercy and grace to help us in our work of evangelism,

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”
       (Hebrews 4:16).

That verse is so important that I want you to turn to it. It is Hebrews 4:16. It is on page 1294 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand and read it aloud.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”
       (Hebrews 4:16).

You may be seated.

This verse shows us how to receive mercy and grace “to help in time of need.” This is certainly a “time of need” in our church. We are now entering what I call “the Fall harvest.” As we enter the Fall we always bring in a great many young people from our evangelism efforts. But many of those who come to church with us never get saved or come into our church. That is sad. We don’t like to think about it. But that is what has happened year after year. Only a few remain with us when the Fall harvest is past. If things go as usual, only a few of them will be with us by Christmas. Remember, Christmas season will soon be here – sooner than you might think. The Christmas season will begin in just 17 weeks. Those few weeks will fly past us so quickly that it will seem like just a few days! Believe it or not, Christmas is almost here! We only have these few days to get new people into our church. In just a few short weeks the Fall harvest will be over.

Will we lose most of those we bring in? We almost always do. Will it be the same this year? It will if the Devil has his way! The Devil does not want you to be awake and alert. The Devil does not want you to be concerned. The Devil wants you to be sleepy and dull – so he can snatch away all those we bring in the Fall harvest. But God is calling you to be awake. God is calling you to be alert. God is calling you to a time of intense, constant, persistent prayer for those lost young people. To defeat the Devil we must obey that verse of Scripture,

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”
       (Hebrews 4:16).

This is the most important time for our church in the whole year! This is our “time of need”! This is the time that we need God’s mercy and grace! This is the time when we need God’s help! “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace” in deep, constant persistent prayer for the lost! Do not let the Devil win this battle! Join us in the battle, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). I want you to be very forceful and very intent in prayer for those we bring in during the next few weeks. I want you to say, “I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray!” I want you to spend at least 15 minutes in prayer every single day. Plan now to spend at least 15 minutes in prayer for the lost every day!

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer;
   Here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

All of you who will join me in at least 15 minutes of daily prayer for the lost, during this Fall harvest, please come here to the front right now, and Mr. Lee and Mr. Bebout will come to pray for you, that you will keep that promise to pray daily for the lost. Come right now, while we sing that stanza together!

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer;
   Here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

(Prayer) You may be seated.

Now I have one more thing to say to you who are new in our church. Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. He rose physically from the dead and ascended back to Heaven to pray for you. Come to Jesus by faith and He will pardon your sins and give you eternal life. And whatever you do, be sure to come back here to church next Sunday! God bless you! Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ephesians 6:10-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Teach Me to Pray” (by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE CHRISTIAN’S GREATEST BATTLE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

(Ephesians 6:11)

I.   First, constant and persistent prayer is necessary because there
is a Devil, Ephesians 6:11, 18.

II.  Second, constant and persistent prayer is necessary because it is
the only way to get what we need, James 4:2; Acts 6:4;
I Thessalonians 3:10; II Timothy 1:3; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12;
Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34.

III. Third, constant and persistent prayer is necessary because it is
the way to receive mercy and grace to help us in time of need,
Hebrews 4:16.