Friday, December 30, 2005

The Sword and Prayer

I like swords. Even as a child swords fascinated and filled me with awe as I viewed their workmanship and ornamentation -- oh how they shone, drawing me to them. Consequently, fencing completely captured my attention, and I watched it every chance I got. It's amazing how such a potentially deadly game could be composed of such elegant and graceful movements, almost like those of a dance. Yet, despite these attributes there is a swiftness and an aggressiveness to fencing, and to sword use in general.

No matter how often as a child I watched sword-fighting films, I always came away with the same impression, swords are not merely weapons of offense, and they are also weapons of defense. For while your opponent is attempting to disarm, maim, and perhaps kill you, you may often only be attempting to keep his sword at bay. In the old days when swords were used to handle disputes, those who were better skilled, lived; while those who were not, died. How appropriate that Paul calls the word of God the Sword of the Spirit, for it too is both offensive and defensive. Individuals who are skilled and empowered by the (Holy) Spirit to handle the Word of God, not only possess a superior weapon with which to defend themselves against Satan’s attacks, but also with the same weapon will come off the victor against the attacks or clamoring of their own sinful nature.

Lest you protest, we are not talking here about those who have an incredible ability to memorize scripture. We are not talking about those gifted with the eloquence to preach. We are talking of those who allow the Holy Spirit to teach them how to use the Word of God as a great warrior uses his sword. Not so sure you agree? Let's look at what the writer of Hebrews says in the 12th verse of the fourth chapter:

For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Notice that in this verse, Paul says nothing about attacking the devil. It's not that the Word cannot be used to attack the enemy of souls, it can, such as when we go into his territory, and take souls prisoner to Jesus Christ. However, Paul in Hebrews, is saying that the Word of God goes deep into our inner minds where our most hidden thoughts and desires dwell-- yes folks, sometimes hidden even from ourselves -- and that the Word of God exposes us to ourselves as we really are - sinners. In essence, the Word serves as a judge of our ideas, thoughts, motives and feelings, as well as our actions. But, and this is the great part, the Word doesn't leave us languishing in the prison of discouragement, under accusation and despair; no, it sanctifies (meaning purifies) the mind, if we consent (John 17:8, 14 & 17). The Word of God cuts through the hard and stony heart of pretense, taking away the Sinfulness of self, with its lustful desires, pride, and childishness. Unlike a physical sword, which is brandished outwardly, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, must be taken internally (eternally). Jesus said He had meat to eat that the disciples knew not of. He also stated that He is the Word of God, and that we live by every Word that “proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (John 4;35; Matt. 4:4; John 6).

Thus those who carry the Sword, are living by every Word, and pray living prayers. If you happen to find yourself in the presence of a pray-er who prays living prayers, listen closely, for the Words are with power. "I don't see or hear anything special," you say? Well, though these prayers are simple, yet they are profound. Haven't you noticed they move the hand of omnipotence? Haven't you ever read the scripture that says, "... The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."? Filled with the righteousness of Christ in God, these prayer-ers manifest humility, and heartfelt devotion and gratitude to Christ their Saviour. Consequently, their prayers are non-repetitive, vain, proud, or superficial. To wield the Sword of the Spirit is to pray living prayers; for it is the Spirit through the Word, which actually informs the prayer.

Scripture has said that by obeying the truth (of the Word) through the Spirit our souls (minds or consciousness) are purified. Furthermore, it says that we become born again or renewed in mind by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever; and that the Word is the Gospel preached unto you (I Peter 1:22-25). There are only one or two purposes of the sword in a fight, one is to preserve life, and the other is to take it. Satan's plan is that when we're attacked, our sword will be rendered useless, and that he'll come off the victor, having stolen our birthright. On the contrary, Christ has come that we might have life more abundantly. Furthermore He has stocked His arsenal and left it at our disposal with an expert Teacher at hand (who can never be separated from us unless we consent). Folks, the Godhead intends that we may have life now and in the Kingdom to come. In light of the victory already won on behalf not only of the human race, but also specifically for you and me, doesn't it make sense then to live by the Word? It did to Jesus 2000 years ago as He fought with Satan, and it does to me. The battle is raging, let's not be caught unprepared!

Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz
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