I John 2:16-17 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
Matthew 6:5-6 “‘When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.’” (words of Jesus Christ)
Mark 1:34-39 “And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’ And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.”
Luke 5:16 “But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Ephesians 6:12-13 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
Psalm 63:1 “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
We all battle – if it is not with another individual, then it may be with ourselves. Or it might be that we combat an idea or concept, or a philosophy or viewpoint. The truth of the matter is that we clash with both the tangible and the intangible virtually every day of our lives. Though it may sound ridiculous, the key to our triumphs in these skirmishes does not rest in our strength or effort, but in our willingness to get alone and intimate with God, since our struggles are spiritual in nature (Ephesians 6:12-13). And since our battles are daily, our time with Him must be also. If we first of all fail to grasp the complete sovereignty of God and His unconditional love for us, and secondly the utter weaknesses of humanity and all that this entails, then we will never understand our need to yield completely to Him. Furthermore we will never experience the freedom and victory that has been promised to us.
In the human race, particularly in our American culture, we love to see our own efforts give rise to successes – achievements that bring us much wanted attention and praise. We feel a great deal of self-esteem and self-worth when this is life’s routine. The more effort we expend, the greater we feel the elation. As ethical and good-natured as this sport-mentality may seem, and as gullible as I have been to buy into it myself, I must stand and say this is nothing less than the lust of the flesh. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This way of living is so dangerous because of its powerfully magnetic pull upon our human nature, and its seeming innocence despite its destructive and depressing finish.
We must understand that the battles of life must be fought on our knees … often alone … in the quiet. God speaks to us in a still small voice, like the blowing of a gentle wind, as Elijah learned when he sheepishly fled from Queen Jezebel (I Kings 19:11-13). We absolutely need this time with our Father, to draw strength and wisdom from Him – to vulnerably lay ourselves bare before Him in honest confession, repentance, and dying to self – to experience healing, forgiveness, and rejuvenation. All this is readily available through simple, authentic, and humble prayer. This is where life’s victories are won! If Jesus saw the need to routinely pull away and pray before He carried out the multiple and sundry aspects of His mission for which He came, then you and I certainly need to follow suit. Who are we fooling to think we can go without it?
Why don’t we start the next day… no, make that today … on our knees, humbly and boldly seeking intimacy with our God, and let Him heal our brokenness, take on our battles, and accomplish the victories. I’ll join you from my study.