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PRAYER WARRIORS FOR TODAY’S BATTLE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 9, 2015


What was the most important thing I ever learned? I would say it was when I learned that Christianity is real! I learned that Christianity is real at the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles, from Dr. Timothy Lin. He was a rare preacher, a man who really believed in God. When a man really believes in God it sets him apart. It makes him different from other preachers, and far superior.

Dr. Timothy Lin was a pastor from China. He did not come to America until he was a grown man. What he believed and preached was what I call “living Christianity.” No, he was not what people would call a Pentecostal or a charismatic – yet he believed in Spirit-filling, in demons, in angels, in “messages” from God, in real answers to real prayers, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival. In short, he believed in “living” Christianity. He learned that as a young person in China. His own father spent his whole life there as a pastor.

Several people have told me, “You’re more like Dr. Lin than any of the Chinese preachers who came out of his church.” Dr. Cagan told me that again last Thursday. I consider that a compliment because Dr. Lin believed in “living” Christianity.

It was really hard for me to stay there all those years, because for most of the time I was the only white kid there. But I knew I had to stay, that it was God’s will for me to stay. And it was there that I learned most of what I know, from Dr. Timothy Lin. I don’t agree with him on every single point, but I think like him. I believe in living Christianity!

You really do have to think like Dr. Lin if you want to understand the second half of Ephesians, chapter six. I have read several commentators who were confused by the passage. I will try to explain it for you in the next few minutes. Please turn to Ephesians 6:10.  It’s page 1255 in the Scofield Study Bible.  Please stand as I read chapter 6, verses 10 to 12. 

This is the Apostle Paul’s last statement to the Christians at Ephesus. What he said to those early Christians is greatly needed by all of us today.

I. First, the Apostle speaks of spiritual warfare.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For 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” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

You may be seated. The Apostle tells us that we live on a battlefield. The Christian life is a life of warfare. We are at war with the Devil and his demons. Dr. A. W. Tozer wrote an essay called, This World: Playground or Battleground? (Christian Publications, 1988, pp. 1-4). Dr. Tozer said,

      In the early days...men conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Man, our fathers held, had to choose sides – he could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here [on earth], ibid., p. 2.

But Dr. Tozer said that has changed in our time. He said, “The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians” (ibid., p. 4).

I think we have to admit Dr. Tozer was right. Today evangelical Christians don’t want to hear about demons and Satan. They don’t want to think that they are soldiers in a cosmic battle with the forces of evil. I think the main reason is that so many of them are not converted. Their eyes are blind to the spiritual conflict. When they hear the Apostle say, “be strong in the Lord” they don’t know what he means. Why don’t they know? Because they are not “in the Lord” – and since they are not “in” the Lord Jesus, they cannot possibly draw strength from Him! Dr. S. D. F. Salmond said that the strengthening “can take effect only in union with Christ” (“The Epistle to the Ephesians,” The Expositor’s Greek New Testament, volume III, Eerdmans, n.d., p. 382).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “You cannot overcome the Devil in your own strength and your own power. Paul is definitely making a play upon two Greek words: The panoplian [armor] of God is needed and available to meet the methodias [strategies, wiles, or methods] of the Devil. ‘Be strengthened in the Lord’ – that is the only place you and I get power” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume 5, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, pp. 278, 279; note on Ephesians 6:10, 11).

You must come to Christ by faith to be saved in the first place. And you must come to Him in prayer again and again to have “the power of his might,” as a soldier of the cross!

II. Second, the Apostle speaks of our enemies.

Please stand as I read Ephesians 6:12.

“For 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” (Ephesians 6:12).

You may be seated.

The Christians of the first and second centuries were very aware of the demons Paul spoke of in this verse. In his book Evangelism in the Early Church Dr. Michael Green said those early Christians believed that

The whole world and its enveloping atmosphere were filled with devils; not merely idolatry, but every phase and form of life was ruled by them. They sat on thrones, they hovered round cradles. The earth was literally a hell, though it continued to be a creation of God. To encounter this hell and all its devils Christians had command of weapons that were invincible…Christians went out into the world as exorcisers… which backed up the Christian claim that Jesus had conquered the demonic forces on the cross, that he had come to bring salvation (Michael Green, Ph.D., Evangelism in the Early Church, Eerdmans, 2003, pp. 263, 264).

In our own time, Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

The 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 (ibid., p. 280; note on Ephesians 6:12).

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said the same thing. He said, “One of the main causes of the ill [bad] state of the Church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten...The Church is drugged and deluded; she is not aware of the conflict at all” (The Christian Warfare, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976, pp. 292, 106).

No wonder the Southern Baptists lost 200,000 people last year. And they are losing even more this year. These so-called evangelicals are running away from the churches in droves. They are afraid of ISIS, they are afraid of the sexual revolution, they are afraid of Iran, they are afraid of Obama, they are afraid of everything! But we don’t need to be afraid if we are clothed in the power of Christ!

III. Third, the Apostle speaks of our armor.

Please stand as I read verses 13 to 17,

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

You may be seated.

Notice that the Apostle says, “Take unto you the whole armour of God” – not make, but take. All of the armor is free for the taking. Dr. McGee said, “Every piece of the armor really speaks of Christ.” He is the truth (v. 14a). He is our righteousness (v. 14b). He guides our feet in paths of righteousness (v. 15). He is our shield. He is the helmet of our salvation (v. 16). All these are defences. This tells us Christ is our defence. When you trust Him you are converted. Christ clothes you with these defences as you abide in His presence. Christ is our defence. When you trust Him you are converted, and Christ clothes you with these defences as you abide in His presence.

Then the Apostle says, to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). That is why you must study the Bible and memorize as much of it as you can. There have been times in my life when a verse I had memorized long before came back to me, and helped me to defeat Satan. I will never forget the night when the words “he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) came to me and saved me from complete despair. The more Bible verses you memorize the more you will know that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. My life verse is Philippians 4:13,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

For more than fifty years that verse has been my sword against fear and weakness. The twenty-seventh Psalm has been my sword many times when I was in desperate situations, particularly the last two verses. You should memorize them. They will help you in the fight of faith.

IV. Fourth, the Apostle speaks, at last, of the warrior’s battle.

Please stand as I read verses 18 and 19.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18, 19).

You may be seated.

I remember something that Leonard Ravenhill said. I can’t remember where he said it, but it stayed in my mind. Ravenhill said, “Prayer is the battle.” It’s not that prayer prepares us for the battle. No! Prayer is the battle!

Dr. Merrill F. Unger was a long-time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He wrote an outstanding book called, Biblical Demonology (Kregel Publications, 1994 reprint). I have heard some carnal preachers say it is a dangerous book. I think it is those preachers who are dangerous! How can they preach without being constantly aware of demons, the Holy Spirit, and the power of prayer? No wonder 200,000 Southern Baptists ran away from their churches last year! No wonder so many independent Baptist churches are closing their Sunday evening services! No wonder our Baptist churches lose 88% of their own young people to the world! Preachers who don’t think about demons, and the power of prayer, really can’t do anything to stop the rampant apostasy in our churches. But the renowned scholar Dr. Wilbur M. Smith thought highly of Unger’s book on demonology. Dr. Smith said, “I have felt [it] should be in the hands of every minister of the gospel today” (Introduction to Dr. Unger’s book, p. xi). I think Dr. Wilbur M. Smith was exactly right. If you are reading this, or watching it on our website, I encourage you to buy a copy of Unger’s book and give it to a pastor who doesn’t have it.

Dr. Unger correctly said, “The provision of prayer [in Ephesians 6:18, 19] is not to be regarded as a part of the warrior’s resources...or another weapon...Prayer in Ephesians 6 is the actual conflict in which the foe [Satan] is vanquished [defeated] and the victory won, not only for ourselves, but also by intercession for others” (ibid., p. 223; comments on Ephesians 6:19, 20; emphasis mine).

A British pastor named Paul Cook wrote Fire From Heaven (Evangelical Press Books, 2009). Everyone should read it. He said, “We must pray again and again for fresh supplies of the Holy Spirit...This means that we have to keep praying and asking. The early church did this, and so must we. The whole work of God depends upon it...fresh unction [power] from the Holy Spirit...[we have] to keep seeking fresh supplies of the Spirit’s power” (Rev. Paul E. Cook, Fire From Heaven: Times of Extraordinary Revival, ibid., pp. 120, 121).

That is one of the main things you should pray for every day – and especially on our fast day, on Saturday. Dr. John R. Rice said, “Holy Spirit power comes in answer to fasting and prayer” (John R. Rice, D.D., Prayer: Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1970, p. 225).

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

You see, prayer is the battle. I want you to pray in detail and by name (if possible) for those who are lost. I want you to pray for the Spirit of God to draw them into our church, to enlighten their minds to the truth of the Gospel, to convict them of sin, to draw them to Christ for cleansing from sin by His precious Blood. Prayer is the battle. I also want you to pray for God to show me what to preach, for God to use the preaching in the hearts of unbelievers, to empower the time of fellowship. In the public prayers, be sure you add your weight when someone is leading. Be sure to keep your mind on what the person is praying – and say “Amen” at the end of each petition. Also, be sure to pray several times during our day of fasting on Saturday. Here I am giving you again the basic items to pray for on Saturday, while you are fasting. Amen. You are prayer warriors in the battle with Satan! You are great people! God bless you!

I can’t really end without saying a few words to you who are still lost. Jesus died on the Cross to save sinners from God’s wrath. Jesus rose from the dead to give sinners the new birth and eternal life. But these things will not become real to you without the work of God’s Spirit.

Therefore, all week, when we pray, pray for bread for sinners. Pray for God to send the Holy Spirit down in our services to illuminate their darkened minds, and to make them feel the guilt of their sin, and their great need for the Lord Jesus Christ! Now look at Luke 11:13. It’s on page 1090 in the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read it.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

Now here is a list of things to pray for this week, and especially on Saturday.


1.  Make your fast a secret (as much as possible). Don’t go around telling people that you are fasting.

2.  Spend some time reading the Bible. Read some parts of the Book of Acts (especially near the beginning).

3.  Memorize Isaiah 58:6 during Saturday’s fast.

4.  Pray for God to give us 10 or more new people who stay with us.

5.  Pray for the conversion of our unsaved young people. Pray for God to do for them what He said in Isaiah 58:6.

6.  Pray that first time visitors today (Sunday) will be drawn back again next Sunday. Pray for them by name if possible.

7.  Pray for God to help me preach next Sunday – in the morning and in the evening.

8.  Drink lots of water. About one glass each hour. You can drink one large cup of coffee at the beginning if you are used to drinking it every day. Do not drink soft drinks, power drinks, etc.

9.  See a medical doctor before you fast if you have any questions about your health. (You can see Dr. Kreighton Chan or Dr. Judith Cagan in our church.) Do not fast if you have a serious disorder, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Just use Saturday to pray for these requests.

10.  Begin your fast after your evening meal on Friday. Don’t eat anything after dinner on Friday until we have a meal at church at 5:30 Saturday evening.

11.  Remember that the most important things to pray for are for the lost young people in our church to be converted – and also for the new young people coming in during this time, to stay with us permanently.


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Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can
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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Ephesians 6:10-19.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Am Praying For You” (by S. O’Malley Clough, 1837-1910).


THE OUTLINE OF

PRAYER WARRIORS FOR TODAY’S BATTLE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For 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” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

I.   First, the Apostle speaks of spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:10.

II.  Second, the Apostle speaks of our enemies, Ephesians 6:12.

III. Third, the Apostle speaks of our armor, Ephesians 6:13-17;
Ephesians 1:6; Philippians 4:13.

IV. Fourth, the Apostle speaks, at last, of the warrior’s battle,
Ephesians 6:18, 19; Luke 11:13.