“I found that I’d been saying, in effect, ‘Keep me from trial or tragedy or pain or anything that would make me really grow and become a man of God. Just give me a convenient, happy, satisfying, problem-free life.’” (Bill Hybels Too Busy Not To Pray, Second Edition 1998, Downers Grove, IL: pg 106)
Maybe it is this culture of quick fixes, but I think it is easy to fall into this concept that prayer is about getting God to make this life easier. If so, that would mean this physical life is the most important part of existence - indicating that prolonging a comfortable life is our goal. This leads to the conclusion that man and God are failing because the odds of physical death currently stand at near 100% and many of those deaths are painful to the one dying and to those who love them.
So there must be another reason for prayer.
Since the Garden of Eden, the Enemy has pursued us with the desire to possess and destroy all that belongs to God. The fullness of God was ushered into this physical world through Christ. Luke 19:10 reports that Christ came to seek and to save that which belongs to God. Like a soldier planting his country’s flag to claim the land, God has planted his flag – the Cross of Christ. This is the essence of the spiritual war we have been born into.
John 17:17-19 indicates that Christ has enabled us to continue his work. There are many wounded from the war. Some have been deceived by the Enemy. Our job is to push back the Gates of Hell, usher in the presence of God, and seek and save the lost and wounded - reclaiming what is God’s.
It is not God’s kingdom that we are preparing for. The kingdom is already present. We are preparing for the greatest display of God’s power when He ends the war and totally annihilates the enemy. In that day there will be no more fear. No more pain or sorrow. The restoration of a new heaven and earth will be complete - an earth that never again needs fixed.
So why do we pray? I would like to suggest the purpose of prayer is to report the casualties and receive our marching orders from the Commander in Chief.
It’s important to remember the cause of the war. If we focus only on the comfort of our unit, we will continually get flanked by the enemy. Do you really want to prolong the world as we know it? God could wipe out the Enemy now if he wanted, but “bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). Are you ready to see the Enemy destroyed along with all those he has captured?
Our physical death is imminent. The war and our purpose in this life is to reclaim what belongs to God before the Enemy and his possessions are wiped from existence. They will not be present in the new heaven and new earth. Let us pray that God’s presence would overpower the Enemy not only for our comfort but for the cause of this war. May we ask for His strength and boldness every day to seek and save the prisoners of this war.
Related Scripture References:
Matthew 16:18 Pushing back the Gates of Hell
Luke 19:10 Reclaim what is God’s
Colossians 1:13,17,19 Ephesians 3:13-19 Usher in God’s Presence – once fully in Christ, now in us
Philippians 1:6 Preparing for Christ’s Return