September 20, 2018

Prayer and Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:10-20

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. . . . Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

—  Ephesians 6:10, 18

Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). If this seems confusing, making you wonder who is doing the tempting, be assured that God “does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13). These words in Jesus’ prayer mean, “Do not bring us to times of trial . . .” and “Protect us when we are tempted. . . .” (See also Psalm 31:3-4.)

Temptation is the work of the devil, Satan. We read in Matthew 4:1 that when Jesus was in the wilderness, he was “tempted by the devil.” But it’s important to note that in the same verse we find that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”

The activity of Satan and the Holy Spirit here can seem confusing, but here’s a helpful way to look at it. Satan tempts, but God tests. When we are tempted, the only way we can pass the test of temptation is by recognizing our weakness and leaning on the Lord’s strength.

This is why prayer is such an important weapon in spiritual warfare. We are defenseless without it. Through prayer we remain connected with God, who equips us for battle and enables us to resist temptation. The Lord who conquered sin shares his victory with us! The power of sin has been defeated by the One who has delivered us from evil, and he is also the One who has taught us to pray.

Lord, I am powerless to resist temptation apart from you. Thank you for being my strength, my wisdom, and my deliverer. Keep me faithful in prayer. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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