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by Jim Clark


    Wrestling in prayer implies that there is a struggle involved. There is some sort of resistance from an opponent. I remember well my high school days when I would watch our Buena High School wrestling team compete against other high schools. The matches were intense. Each contestant was acutely alert. On guard. Muscles tense. Each wrestler used every bit of his strength and training to pin his opponent...and to prevent himself from being pinned to the mat.

    Epahras’ fellow prisoner wrote these words, describing the spiritual wrestling match in which we are engaged:

God is strong and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest...This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Ephesians 6:10-12, The Message)
I counted the word “against” six times in this verse. There is an enemy of our souls and his name is Satan. He hates when Christians unite in prayer, calling upon the mighty name of Jesus. He will do everything he can to distract us from a deep dependence upon the Lord. He is against us. Thankfully, One who is far more powerful than our enemy is for us.

    One of Satan’s greatest distractions to keep us from wrestling in prayer is to delude us into thinking that we’re not involved in a war. The enemy is plotting against the church to lull her into a peacetime mentality.

A Weakened Military

    Last year I was on a flight from Dallas to Huntsville, Alabama. Seated behind me were two men who became engaged in a very interesting conversation about our military. One of the men was a Vietnam veteran headed for a weekend reunion with his fellow vets. The other man was a civilian who worked with our country’s defensive missile system. As their conversation deepened, they both agreed about the weakening condition of the United States’ military. They grieved over the fact that thousands of talented men are bailing out of the armed forces in pursuit of more money in the private sector. The more these men talked, the more they were convincing each other that our nation is becoming more vulnerable to enemy attacks.

One who is far more powerful than our enemy is for us.
    Reflecting on this conversation, I began to think of the danger of a peacetime mentality. It can occur in a country and too often takes place in a church. Satan blinds us from seeing the biblical truth that we’re engaged in a spiritual conflict for the souls of men, women and children. I forget this truth so quickly.

    We forget until there’s a wakeup call such as another high school shooting. Or another terrorist attack. Or another marriage at our church torn apart by divorce.

    I’m sure that one of Epahras’ great motivations to “wrestle in prayer” was a keen awareness that believers are involved in an intense spiritual battle with the enemy of our souls. Satan means war —- and so must God’s people.

    Neil Anderson tells the story of a man who had once been a high priest in the upper levels of Satanism. By God’s grace he found Jesus and was dramatically delivered from the pit of spiritual darkness. Six months later he gave his testimony at Anderson’s church. After he concluded his story, one person asked him a very important question based on his experience from the dark side: “What should the church’s first line of defense be as Christians face demonic influences?”

    I read carefully his response: “Prayer,” he answered forcefully. “And when you pray, mean it. Fervent prayer thwarts Satan’s activity like nothing else.” Anderson concluded: “God has...equipped you and authorized you for search and rescue in the lives of those who are in the devil’s clutches.“

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Jim Clark
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