Setting of Prayer: Life is War - 2
The disciples asked Jesus for instruction about prayer. After telling His disciples that their prayers need to be God-centred, Jesus proceeded to tell them that the warfare characterising this life was to receive a central place in the disciplesí conversations with God. Said Jesus to them: ask God to make His kingdom come. That is: tell God that you are under attack, speak with God about the rebellion still being pushed by some of the creatures of Godís creation. Said Jesus to His disciples: make sure that the enmity of which God spoke in Genesis 3 is part and parcel of your talking with God.
We understand: if this subject is to be part and parcel of our talking with God Ėyes, and receives pride of place after the petition instructing us about God-centredness!Ė then this subject must of necessity determine also the way we view life as a whole. I may not think of my daily life in terms of peace and quiet, only to turn around and speak with God about life as war; I am rather to think of life in terms of warfare, of hatred, of strife, of ambush and attacks. And then, from my specific position in life, I am to speak to God about where Iím at, tell Him about my circumstances in the context of the warfare of which He speaks, the warfare going on around me.
That reality gives colour to prayers, adds perspective. The Lord has given me work, but the boys at work mock me terribly because Iím a Christian, go to church, donít appreciate pornography. The material behind the second petition gives me understanding for what is going on here; Satan would use the fellows at work to tear me from my God, to keep me away from church, to stop me from praying. So I tell God, tell Him of my struggles at work from the perspective of the second petition, from the perspective of Satanís ongoing hatred against the church and against me. ĎFather,í I pray, ĎYou are King over all, worthy of all glory and praise. But in Your kingdom are those who refuse to acknowledge you, and I experience it so strongly at work. My work-mates mock my Christianity, yes, behind their mockery is Satan and his demons trying to lure me away from You and Your service. So I pray: make Your kingdom come! I pray: destroy the attacks of Satan against me, give me strength to acknowledge, publicly, that you are God on high! Give me strength to continue to pray even at work, to be faithful to you in my conduct. Father, Your kingdom come at work, Your kingdom come in my life.í
At home one of the children is rebellious. I understand: behind his rebellion is Satanís efforts to tear this covenant child away from his God. I analyse whatís going on in the life of my child from the perspective of Satanís attacks, and I pray for my son from that perspective too: ĎLord, this child is Yourís and therefore hated by Satan and his demons; please frustrate Satanís attacks, make Your kingdom come in the life of my son.í
There is strife in my marriage, my parentsí marriage. The material behind the second petition gives perspective to what is going on: Satan would destroy the family, divide Mom and Dad so that parents cannot concentrate together on the task of teaching the children the way of the Lord. The TV and the home computer and the VCR take away from time to communicate with each other in the home: Satan would prevent parents from speaking with Godís covenant children about the service of the Lord, would prevent children from telling their parents what is on their minds. So we pray, pray for good relations with the children, pray for good harmony in marriage, and as we pray itís the material of the second petition thatís on our minds: ĎFather, prevent Satan from destroying our family, be it through friction between persons of the family, be it through our being absorbed by entertainment that takes away time to talk, be it by infatuation with sport, etc. Father,í we pray, ĎYour kingdom come. Rule us by Your Word and Spirit so that we in our home submit more and more to You; destroy Satanís attacks upon us.í
We pray, with the reality of war in our minds. We understand: we donít just pray; we also work. After all: I cannot pray that God please make His kingdom come, and at the same time continue to tolerate sin in my life. I cannot pray that God make His kingdom come in my work situation, and at the same time join the boys in their mocking. I cannot pray that God bless my family and at the same time give a television Ėdominated as it today is by Satan in his battle against God and His churchĖ a place in my family. I cannot pray that God heal the strife in my marriage, and at that same time not go out of my way to reach out to my spouse in total self-denial. We pray, and at the same time work. We realise: Jesusí instruction in the second petition teaches us a view on life itself, teaches us whatís going on in life; life is war.
Will a prayer focusing on the reality of this war be answered? Jesusí promise is this: "ask and you shall receive" (Luke 11:9). No, not that all we desire shall be granted. Jesusí point is rather that what is asked according to the instructions of the Lordís Prayer will surely be given to you. More, Christ Jesus has defeated Satan and his demons; though the devil still fights for all heís worth in an effort to dethrone the Lord God, he cannot succeed (see Revelation 12). In fact, though the Church may become small, and the number of the faithful on earth be but few, Satan shall not win control of Godís world. It stands firm in Scripture: every knee shall bow before King Jesus, shall acknowledge that He is Lord and Christ (Philippians 2). Yes, already Satan is bound (Revelation 20). So we may pray confidently that God please make His kingdom come, and we may be convinced: God will hear our petition. Yes, He will give strength for us to be faithful and obedient Ė even in the face of Satanís attacks against us through the fellows at work. And yes, He will give strength for me to deny myself so that I do my part to heal my marriage Ė even when I feel Satanís attacks so strongly in my home. He will give strength even to cut sin out of my life.