Using The Word Of God In Prayer
Years ago it came as a startling revelation to me that there was no way so effective in prayer as praying with the Scriptures. I like a prayer meeting where business is done, the devil challenged, and something new in the constructive plan of God is laid hold on. This is a way of apprehending that for which I have been apprehended of Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12).
When you open the Bible with God, some word or sentence or phrase or thing may arrest you. You should pause there and think. In all probability God is making a special claim upon you; or, if you have answered it personally, now it is to be made through you in ever widening application.
Grip God’s Sword
Grip that word. It is God handing to you His sword. Therefore do not lose it. Do not let the devil rob you of this weapon by which you can defeat him, and by which you can implement the plan of God.
When you cannot pour out in prayer, you can grip a word, a sentence, or a verse. Hold that before God, defying all hell to prevent its accomplishment. That is spiritual warfare. That is taking and using the sword of the Spirit. The least enlightened believer can do it. There flashes back to my mind now the story of a lady who afterwards went to Dohnavur as a missionary. I was staying at a house where she met a friend who kept up a furious argument about the Scriptures, practically denying their authority. When I arrived, this lady was in tears and very much disturbed in mind. "Was this really God’s Word? Was it inspired? Could she be sure?"
I said, "Get your Bible. Hold it up, and – if you believe it – say, ‘I declare this to be the Word of God. It is His Word. God did cause holy men to be borne along by the Spirit and write what He wanted said. And here it is, and I believe Him, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. Anything to the contrary is a lie which I reject’" – something along that line of testimony. In a few minutes she sighed heavily and became released in spirit. But neither she nor I ever forgot the effect.
It may sound childish. I tell you it is the thing the devil does not like. If he can help it, you shall never stand on God’s Word like that. But it works to be so definite, as thousands can testify. The lady’s antagonist, I may add, later found that she had to do the same thing to become an aggressive Christian.
But come back to this question of holding the Scriptures before God. I write now for those able to do it. Be determined to get down to praying. Put aside everything, perhaps even food, for a whole morning or evening, and give yourself to the real business of prayer. Pray in what attitude you can best do it – with words, or sighs, or uplifted hands, or with your finger on the open Bible, perhaps writing down what you see, copying out the promises of God, and putting your signature to them, and with a fervent "Amen!" and all that that can mean.
Oh, these promises – these manuscripts of God, with their amazing disclosures and implications! What a Library! What Treasure! What Life! "The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). So Jesus said.
Beloved, the disclosures of the Word are to become the objects of faith. Use them. Implement them. Dare to!
I find it good to do two things: one, to hold the Word before God, and the other, to hold some person or people or place or thing before Him, all the time giving Him my "Amen!" to His will.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy there is an exhortation to "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks … for all men" (2:1). This is followed with these words as a kind of climax: "I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting" (2:8).
Why these words about lifting the hands in prayer? It may be that some physical disability pressed him into the discovery of this very effective way of focusing and expressing what he could not always put into words.
Quite early in life I got into this habit and can recall some striking incidents where I have seen the devil defeated and God intervene as this mode of "pressing the battle to the gates" has been pursued. For a while I dropped out of the practice, but returned to it in some emergency with a renewed consciousness of its value. Paul must have been so convinced of its efficacy as a method that he made a special note of it to Timothy, with the significant words "without wrath and without doubting," as though both those things were perils. There is no room for vengeance or unbelief in the prayer sphere, but apart from those, what might not the uplifted hands of a transparent aggressive soul mean? A whole situation can be held before God in the silence of His sovereignty while unseen forces are marshaled to the fulfillment of His will and the undoing of the works of the devil.
Paul is not advocating a mental attitude which may merely be the focusing of some dangerous psychic force upon people, a devilish counterfeit of believing prayer, and which we should guard against by taking refuge in Christ. But that should not keep us from the real thing, in which all the redeemed forces of co-operation with God can be brought to bear upon personal and world affairs for such changes as expressly conform to the administration of His will. Read the whole passage of 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and try praying that way. I think you will be agreeably surprised, just as you will when you start praying for all men instead ofsome.
Omnipotence Breaks in Through Faith
When you become aware of some of the amazing facts concerning the embroilment of nations in national and international factions, jealousies, hatred, aggression, plunder, and so forth, you are forced to the conclusion that the whole situation is a manipulation of those unseen forces described in Ephesians 6:12-16 and Colossians 2:15. These are forces which, as verse 15 shows, were utterly defeated by Christ at the cross. And the only solution to such appalling and bewildering situations is the intervention of a Superior Power which can come between the devil and the ruin of the race.
It is here that the man of prayer for whom God is always on the lookout, steps in with the victory of the cross of Christ. Like Aaron of old, he "stays the plague" (Num. 16:41-50), turns the battle, and "shares the spoil with the strong" (Isa. 53:12). Omnipotence breaks into the scene through the faith of God’s people, and I know of no method which for me better expresses all I feel and think and will – than to claim with uplifted hands that the will of God shall be done. If all statesmen knew this simple but profound secret, what might not be done for them and with them by the Lord of Hosts.
So reverting to my point: I hold the Church before Him. That to me is "praying for all saints"; and it is refreshing and quickening to feel that you can touch any and all through God and add your "Amen" to theirs, and theirs to yours "in the Spirit." This union with one another in Christ is marvelous, but it is real – "the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3). Dare to keep it!
I hold nations and parliaments and leaders and policies before God, sometimes specifically, sometimes as a whole, sometimes mentioning names, sometimes groups. It is no casual thing. I can do it even while engaged in other work. That is "praying always…in the Spirit" (Eph. 6:18). The thing grips you, not you it.
Scriptures come to me: "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13). I hold on to that. "The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance" (Isa. 40:15). I put down my feet there and get a bigger view of God. Try reading Isaiah 40 when you feel at the end of all things. Then hold it before God with a continuous "Amen!"
Praying Is a Business
It is impossible to give here more than a hint of these roads of activity. The Holy Spirit teaches all who will to know. But praying is a business. Never mind about conventionalities and methods. Get something done. Make for results. Reckon that God will do all He says. Some of it you will get now – token results; some necessarily falls into the future, though you live in God’s eternal now and call the "things which be not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17). Such faith is an invincible shield.
Persevere. Yes, why did Paul say, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph. 6:18). Praying, supplicating, watching, persevering. But why? Set yourself to tackle problems in prayer and you will often find yourself strangely up against things, for there is no sphere so alive with well trained enemy strategists as the unseen.
But through the cross – through the triumphant Christ – God can implement His will and defeat the devil every time!