Fervent Prayer: Your Relationships

This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here.

If I were your enemy, I’d work to create division between you and other Christians, between groups of Christians, anyone with the potential for uniting in battle against me and my plans. I’d keep you operating individually, not seeing your need for the church or tying yourself too closely to its mission. Strenth in numbers and unity of purpose… I would not allow things like these to go unchecked.

Your Relationships. Uniting a Common Cause.

One of our most important strategies – a call for our most fervent praying – must be to stand against all forms of disharmony in our relationships and to battle for oneness among ourselves and God’s people. We owe it to the Lord, and we owe it to one another. The gospel we share in common is meant to be shared together, both the giving and receiving of grace, inspiring each of us to pure living and spiritual fervency so the gospel can shine outward to others through our loving, enriching relationships.

Together, we are a mighty force. Satan knows that. And by remaining united, we can let him feel that.

He hates – hates! – when God’s people get their act together, when we’re unified as a couple, a family, a local church, as well as the global, “capital-C” Church. He hates when we’re all praying for one another’s needs and potential and mission and unity, going to the throne for (and even with) those around us and closest to us.

The hallmark, the true pearl of God’s work on earth that frustrates the enemy’s plans to no end, is this mysterious gelling of people from various backgrounds, experiences, personality types, races, and traditions – the kinds of differences that should easily keep us from being able to get along, much less to work together for kingdom purposes or to care how one another is growing in faith and perseverance.

If we’re not praying for oneness – seriously, specifically, strategically – we’re leaving our hopes for togetherness to the fickle weather patterns of emotion, misunderstanding, and imposed pressure from outside sources and circumstances. We’re giving the enemy room and access to scout for breaks in the line, then to nudge his way into cracks in our relationships, separating us from the people we need most for maintaining our health and balance and authenticity, as well as from shared energy and ideas required for our relationships to thrive.

Prayer helps us stay focused on bigger things, on much more eternal things than the petty stuff that threatens to put itself up beyond actual size and become some huge deal it doesn’t deserve to be. In prayer we experience the kind of hard-fought peace that unites us into an army of soldiers for Christ.

Peace. The enemy is flat-out against it. But what’s he so afraid that it might cause us or lead us to do?

“Having been justified by faith”, the Bible tells us, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace with God. No more fear or condemnation. Unhindered access back and forth between Him and ourselves. So whatever lack of peace you or I might feel with God, and whenever we might feel it, it’s always coming from a source that is not God because He has already blown down every door that keeps us from experiencing total peace with Him.

Strike one. The enemy doesn’t like that.

To ruffle his feathers even more, our peace with God infuses us with the peace of God. It’s a gift that keeps us stable and strong even when our circumstances are the furthest thing away from being peaceful. It also acts as a guide that helps us discern God’s leading and direction toward our destiny. The peace of God is what helps us navigate the will of God.

Strike two. Another thing the enemy doesn’t like.

So this is why he digs in so hard trying to separate friends and churches. It’s all a desperate attempt to avoid strike three. You see, peace with God is individual, Personal. The peace of God – same thing. It’s about you, no one else. But peace with others? Now we’ve got witnesses. Now we’re moving in a pack. We’ve got the strength of numbers. And that makes us more of a problem to him than ever.

The magnet that draws other people out of darkness toward the light and hope of Jesus Christ is so often not the A-B-C evangelism presentation they hear but hte one they see- the recongizable change and difference in people who claim to be at peace with God themselves. Friends who forgive, sisters in Christ whose relationship is an inspiration, husbands and wives who clearly love each other with a passionate sense of loyalty and unity, churches and denominations that are known for celebrating their commonalities more than arguing about their differences – those are the kind of people who best entice others out of their loneliness, pain, and despair to seek their own peace with God through Christ.

So we should not be surprised when Satan thrarts our unity as believers, in all kinds of different pairings and places where we interact with fellow Christians. He’ll do it in your local church. He’ll do it in the global church. He’ll do it in your own personal relationships as well. Mark the ones that form the inner circle around you – the tribe you go to battle with, the people who are most influential in helping you stay spiritually on task and on target. Think of your spouse, your closest girlfriends, you accountability partners, the other participants in your discipleship group. Be strategic in praying for these… this is where he’ll try to attack. I say we throw him that third strike. And get him out of here.

As you begin to develop your personalized approach to this tenth strategy, start by identifying the most common tools of division and disunity the enemy employs to destroy key relationships.

If you have any bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3:14-16

Jealousy – the idea of never wanting to take a backseat to someone else’s success or growth pattern
Bitterness – irritations that have simmered inside you long enough until they’ve turned into intolerable dislikes
Selfish Ambition – the desire to dominate or come out looking better than someone else, even someone you care about
Arrogrance – thinking you’re most likely the one’s who’s most right whenever there’s a difference of opinion

So starting today, we craft a prayer strategy with peace in mind, leading to peace of mind for ourselves and the ones we love.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. Colossians 3:15

Pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14

Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 1 John 3:18

Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:13

Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:26

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Behold, how good and pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down the edges of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing – life forever. Psalm 133:1-3

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important that yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:2-4

…so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

The peace of God, perseved by the prayers of God’s people, is meant to forge us together in friendship and unite us in mission. And when it does, not only does it cause the people around us to sit up and notice, but it declares the manifold wisdom of God through the church “to the rulers and authories in the heavens” (Ephesians 3:10). Unity among brothers and sisters puts Satan promptly in his place. And that’s something that ought to make us eager to be watchful, to be encouraging, to be merciful. To be unified.