In Victorious: A 21-Day Journey to a Victorious Prayer Life, Gary Rohrmayer will show you how Jesus, the Victorious One, has defeated our arch-enemy and has provided a path of freedom that we can express in our daily devotions.
Our prayer is that this 21-day journey will become a 365-day habit that will lead you towards a victorious life.
Scripture Text: II Corinthians 12:7-10
Sometimes the victorious life is not the life we have pictured in our minds.
From the very moment we receive the blessings of the grace of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we instantly find ourselves in a direct spiritual conflict. That conflict is with God’s enemies, Satan, and his legion of demons. Yes, there is real personal evil in this world that followers of Jesus face daily. Theologians call this spiritual warfare.
The Apostle Paul, in a very self-revealing letter, invites us into his inner struggles. He writes, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (II Corinthians 12:7-8).
In this passage, we learn a few things about Paul. One, he struggled with pride. Two, he lived with a painful infirmity, whether physical, emotional, or relational, we don’t know. We know it was painfully debilitating. Three, Satan used this weakness to violently torture him. Satan knows where to strike; he knows our vulnerabilities and ruthlessly attacks them without mercy. Four, he begged God repeatedly to remove this thorn until he heard God’s voice in the matter. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 8:9). Five, he joyfully submitted to God’s will in this matter by embracing his weakness and depending on the power of Jesus to shine through him. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 8:9-10). Paul learned that God has the right to say no to him and that he was responsible for submitting to God’s will because his grace was sufficient to sustain him.
Paul’s experience is the real picture of a victorious spiritual life!
Oswald Chambers wrote, “The Christian life is gloriously difficult…” Just let that sink in for a moment. “Gloriously difficult!” Would it make a popular slogan for a bumper sticker today? He continues, “…but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in—it stirs us up to overcome.”
As children of God, difficulty or opposition come with our calling, but it also comes with a victorious promise. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
What weaknesses is Satan trying to exploit in your life? Is it an emotional scar? A physical sickness or a relational wound? Where are you vulnerable to his insidious attacks, deceptive lies, and his ruthless accusations?
A victorious spiritual life means embracing our weaknesses with humility. The victorious life means facing the messengers of Satan with the truth of God. The victorious life is finding the grace of the Lord Jesus overwhelmingly sufficient to meet us in our darkest challenges.
The victorious life is gloriously difficult because it is in that difficulty that we discover the glorious power of Jesus.
Scripture Text: Ephesians 6:18; Ephesians 1:3-23
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
It is in our prayer lives where the battle for spiritual victory is won or lost.
The absence of prayer makes putting on the armor of God nothing but an intellectual experience completely void of spiritual vitality. Remember, when Paul speaks of the armor of God, he is metaphorically speaking of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. We unlock the divine truth of the gospel through prayer and constant communion with the Father.
We see this truth come alive in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where Paul lays out thirteen of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Let’s take a quick survey: We are chosen, made holy and blameless before God, and loved unconditionally (v. 4). We are spiritually adopted as children of God (v. 5). We find complete acceptance in Christ (v. 6). We are redeemed through the blood of Christ, forgiven, and are given all the riches of God’s grace (v. 7). We are lavished with all spiritual wisdom and understanding (v. 8). We understand the mystery of God’s will (v. 9). We are guaranteed an eternal inheritance (vs. 11, 14). We received the Word of truth and were sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13).
At the end of this robust list of blessings, Paul offers a prayer of enlightenment. Paul does not pray for us to get these spiritual blessings because he knows that we already have them as chosen children of God. Paul prays that we will experience the wonder and depth of what we already possess so that we will “know God better” (v. 17) and so that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (v. 18). He desires that we have an ever-expanding view of God’s infinite blessings so that Christ will transform our lives. He wants us to be people marked with hope and full of assurance. People marked with unlimited spiritual resources and full of heavenly confidence, and people marked with supernatural spiritual power and full of unstoppable strength (vs. 18-20). He wants to equip us to be the victorious warriors God intended.
Just like each piece of armor can be turned into an intellectual exercise void of spiritual power, spiritual blessings can become lifeless Christianity through prayerlessness. Oswald Chambers writes, “Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God.” Paul’s emphasis on the preeminence of prayer at the end of this study drives this point home.
If we are not regularly encountering God through meaningful prayer, the Devil is winning. He is out scheming us! He is outwitting us! He is robbing us of spiritual power and distracting us with trivial things. John Piper writes, “The devil hates prayer. Our flesh does not naturally love it. Therefore, it does not come full-born and complete and passionate from the womb of our heart. It takes ever-renewed discipline.”
Throughout the next month, we hope to strengthen your private prayer life as we seek to stand victoriously against the schemes of our arch enemy.
Scripture Text: Ephesians 6:18; I Thessalonians 5:17; Colossians 4:2; Luke 21:36; I Peter 4:7
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions…” Ephesians 6:18
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural.”
Prayer is a constant state of humility and dependence on our loving Father. When Paul writes, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” He reminds us of the four keywords for living a victorious Christian life: “pray in the Spirit.” We define “praying in the Spirit” as the means of praying the mind of God, under the will of God, by the continued assistance of the Spirit of God.
Now he adds that we are to pray “on all occasions.” Meaning there is never a bad time to pray. Prayer should never be isolated to certain places or occasions but should be exercised whenever and wherever the Spirit prompts us to pray. Reflecting on the context of spiritual warfare, we can understand Paul’s urgency for ongoing prayer as our enemy never takes a rest from scheming against us. Therefore, we are admonished to “pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
As soldiers in this epic spiritual battle, our armor will function at a high level if we continuously communicate with the commander-in-chief. Soldiers on the front lines rely heavily on their unbroken contact with their commanding officers to help them navigate the battlefield. Without that unceasing communication, they could be quickly overrun by the enemy, making them vulnerable to attacks and ultimately defeats. So it is with us as followers of Jesus, the armor of God will only be effective as our continual dependence on the Father.
There are three strategies that Satan uses to attack our prayer lives:
First, he will try to discourage us from praying. Have you ever thought that your prayers were useless? Do you ever get tired of praying prayers that go unanswered? Have you ever said to yourself, “What is the use? I pray, and nothing happens!” Those discouraging doubts are planted in our minds by our scheming enemy. It’s at that moment we are to put on the belt of truth like David in Psalm 13, who in one breath said, “How long O Lord” (v. 1) and in the next said, “But I trust in your unfailing love” (v. 5).
Second, he will try to distract us from praying. We should not be amazed that when we give time to focused prayer, crazy things happen. Satan is the master of distractions. Jesus asked his disciples to pray for him for one hour. What happened? They all fell asleep! Jesus said to them, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
Third, he will try to deter us in our prayers. Satan wants to weaken our prayer lives and does it in many ways: He will entice us into sin (Psalm 66:19). He will place idols in our lives (Ezekiel 14:1-3). He will cause relational strife (I Peter 3:7). He will seduce us to pray with the wrong motives (James 4:3). He will use our selfishness against us. Solomon wrote, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13).
John Piper offers this challenge to our prayer lives, “Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.”
May we find victory today as we allow prayer to permeate our lives.
Scripture Text: James 4:1-10
Why do so many of us have spasmodic prayer lives? Start and stop. Hot and cold. Sometimes our prayer lives are like a car with a faulty fuel injector that just sputters down the road. It doesn’t matter if it is a Maserati or Yugo. If the fuel injector isn’t working correctly, the car will never have enough power. So it is with followers of Jesus, if we do not have a working prayer life, we will lack the spiritual power to face the enemy and live the victorious life God desires.
In his letter dealing with Christians trying to live dual lives, one of devotion and the other with recklessness, the Apostle James outlines two reasons our prayer lives tend to sputter.
The first is the neglect of prayer. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). Prayer is a living, breathing conversation with the God of the universe. If we are not talking to God, we are losing the battle, and Satan is outwitting us. The prayerless life reveals a heart filled with self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
The second is selfish prayers. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3). If we are simply coming to God as a butler to meet all our needs and wants, we will be spiritually weak and harmfully immature. Our worship will be dull, our confession will be shallow, and our prayers will be powerless.
So how does one attain a victorious prayer life?
James offers us five attitudes that will fine-tune the fuel injector of our prayer lives.
Spirit-driven. “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously?” (v. 5). We started the book with the premise that the secret to a victorious life is to “pray in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). James reinforces the truth that effective prayer is driven, guided, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who jealously longs for our devotion. Praying in the Spirit is praying the mind of God, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to fulfill the will of God.
Humble in posture. “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (v.6). Humility is a mark of utter dependence on God. It is, in essence, coming to God with empty hands. If you want God to battle against your prayers, just come to him like an entitled, willful and self-indulgent child. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility.” If humility sets us free, then pride puts us right into Satan’s painful grip. (Ephesians 4:27).
Submissive spirit. “Submit yourselves, then, to God” (v. 7). The word submit is a military term that means to voluntarily place yourself under one’s authority. Watchman Nee wrote, “The Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane is the highest expression of submission to God’s authority. Our Lord’s submission to God’s authority far exceeds His sacrifice on the cross.”44 Unless we are willing to say with Jesus, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 24:42), our prayer lives will always be susceptible to the enemy’s schemes.
Resistant stance. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (v. 7). Active resistance against the Father of Lies is where we began 21 days ago. Paul writes, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). We resist the lies, the accusations, and the temptations through the spiritual blessings we have in Christ (the armor of God), which renders the Devil powerless. Active resistance takes mental preparation. Peter writes, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The attacks on your prayer life are a serious issue, and it takes serious-minded people to overcome them.
Repentant heart. “Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom” (vs. 8-9). James paints a beautiful picture of repentance. Repentance is changing one’s mind, which leads to changing one’s direction in life. Repentance is essential in salvation (Acts 3:19) and necessary for sanctification, as seen in James’ words. His words are a serious call to change our minds and our behavior. Come, wash, purify. Grieve, mourn, wail and change. There is no mistaking his sobering tone. If our prayer lives are to be victorious, there must be a hunger for holiness. Paul writes, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands…” (I Timothy 2:8).
John Bunyan summarizes what a victorious prayer life looks like when he writes, “Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.”