“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” Matthew 12:29
In defending His performing of miracles, Jesus acknowledged the power and strength of Satan, Jesus’ argument is that He has to be stronger than Satan to do what He did. This incident in Jesus’ ministry serves as a reminder to us that as we go about our task of making disciples a “strong man” is ready to oppose us. Satan, “the strong man,” is committed to doing all he can
to protect lost souls, his Possessions,” from our advancement. As we march into Satan’s kingdom to advance God’s, we must be careful never to minimize Satan’s anger and power. He is a strong being with great power to do evil. (Ephesians 6: 12). On the cross, Jesus broke the power of Satan for all times. Our Lord makes it clear that if we are going to be effective in bearing fruit, we must first bind our adversary; the scriptures teach that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5: 16) In Genesis 32:24-30 Jacob became Israel because he wrestled with God until daybreak, demanding the blessing. As spiritual Israel, we must understand it is through laboring and wrestling in prayer that we are able to bind the “strong man.” By tapping God’s power in prayer we can neutralize the power of Satan. The result, as promised, will be effectiveness. His triumph becomes ours as we bear fruit to His glory. In examining the importance of prayer to our personal fruitfulness, these two areas must be considered:
Prayer Must Take Priority in Our Evangelism
Jesus said we must first tie up the “strong man.” However, for far too many the norm is to set time aside to be with the Lord only after we have completed all of our other responsibilities that day or only in our deepest times of hardship. All too often it’s the “left-over” time in our schedule that we use to pray, often when we are too tired or exhausted to do so.
It is a strange paradox that most of us would rather work in the harvest fields than set time aside to pray. So often our practice is to spend quality time in prayer only after we have been frustrated by our own lack of fruitfulness and effectiveness. Our priorities must be re-evaluated. The amount of lime that we allocate for prayer each day is a clear measure of our belief in its importance. It has been said that Jesus never got behind in his ministry. Because He never got behind in his prayer life. For to Jesus, prayer was His way of getting things done. Let us guard against making the fatal mistake of reversing God’s order by expecting to conduct the rescue without first disarming our enemy.
Prayer Must be Directed Against Satan
Our concern in prayer should not only be to pray for those who are lost, but to pray against Satan who holds them in bondage. We must know our enemy and be aware of his schemes. Too often our prayers for fruitfulness are directed only towards ourselves or the lost. However, in addition, we have got to pray specifically that Satan will be bound and rendered ineffective in his attacks if we are going to “rob his house.” To move men, we must be able to tap God’s power. We will never experience New Testament results in our evangelism until we restore New Testament devotion to prayer. (Acts 2:42). Let us be those, then, who are combined to the power of prayer so that we may command the power of God as we forcefully advance His kingdom.
Prayer Must Be Complete
Jesus gave his disciples and us a pattern in which we are to pray every day when he told them in Luke 11:1-4, “He said to them, “When you pray, say:”’Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” We can lessen the importance of praying the way Jesus taught us by only praying about the things we “feel” like praying about and lose the impact of modeling our prayer life after the teaching on prayer from the scriptures. For us to remain “in the spirit”, enabling us to be fruitful, we must pray through the entire model Jesus taught us to pray through. Let us not diminish the impact of our prayer by praying incomplete prayers which cheating God and ourselves out of the full prayers he intended us to pray.
Prayer Must be for All Nations
“..My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations..” Mark 11:17. After clearing the temple, Jesus proclaimed His vision of His future Kingdom as the “house of prayer for all nations.” This radical, revolutionary vision was the same dream He shared when He began His ministry three years earlier in His hometown synagogue of Nazareth. At the synagogue Jesus presented His vision of forging both Jews and Gentiles into a united kingdom.
This sermon was so revolutionary that “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” Luke 4:28-29 Contrary to our superficial thinking, there was never a distinction in His mind between domestic and foreign missions. To Jesus it was all world evangelism.- (The Master Plan of Evangelism, p.23) A true disciple of Jesus shares His vision of winning a lost world in their generation. He is willing to pay the same price as the dreamer – martyrdom. After Jesus’ baptism, He went out into the desert to pray and fast for forty days. When Jesus selected His apostles, He prayed all night. When He wrestled with the cross, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane until He was ready to carry out the will of God as the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus never prayed without acting and never acted without prayer! His prayers “of loud cries and tears” focused on glorifying God by completing God’s purpose for His life. (Hebrews 5:7)
Though a small congregation in God’s “house of prayer for all nations,” the Portland leadership is asking all the members to pray through the following goals.
1. Let us pray for the Spirit to appoint shepherds in the Portland Church in the last half of 2012.
2. Let us beg God for success in the sending out of the mission teams at our annual Global Leadership Conference!
3. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will rapidly multiply the number of disciples in the Portland congregation. (Acts 6:7) Already in the first 17 weeks of 2012 God has increased our January 1st membership through baptisms, restorations, and Place Memberships by 19! At this rate God would more increase our membership by 150% in 2012!
4. Pray for us to boldly preach the Word only in the fear of God, not men. (Ephesians 6:19-20) Let me express my appreciation to the Portland leadership and the entire congregation for your constant prayers and support to the ministry staff.
5. Pray for the unifying of all disciples in the church universal’ that have God’s dream of a Kingdom, a movement that will someday be called “a house of prayer for all nations.”