Warfare Prayer

Spiritual Warfare Is Real, And Prayer Is Our Most Powerful Weapon.

Ross Sawyers
Jan 16, 2022    52m
What is spiritual welfare, and what can we do to prepare for battle? This message teaches about the reality of battles being fought in the heavenly realms, and it teaches us that prayer is always the most powerful weapon we have against evil. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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121 Community - Warfare Prayer
Ross Sawyers: [00:00:07] I'm grateful this morning for the outcome last night for those that were taken hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Collierville, and I assume you are as well. A number of you were texting me yesterday, so I would assume the majority of us are aware of what was happening. And it's different, isn't it, because that was a hostage situation like five minutes from my house? We're accustomed to seeing those, even in our own country, but it's usually not here to track that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:40] And it made me, there were a number of things that rolled through me yesterday. One, I just became increasingly more grateful for the police, for SWAT units, for the FBI. Where else could we live, where there would be that kind of response, that quickly, that an elite hostage rescue team would be sent from Quantico, Virginia, to come and lead? Everybody played their roles, it seems just incredibly well, as it unfolded. And so grateful on that front, grateful for God's rescue of the rabbi and the others that were held hostage. And then it's kind of a weird thing, isn't it, as a Christian, because there's also a grieving and a sadness over a man last night that died, that I would say almost certainly, has started his eternity apart from God. And so it's a challenge to think about those who are perpetrators of things that are so evil, and yet that's still a person, and so there's a mixture of grieving, even on that part. Yet, being incredibly grateful for the other things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:00] Yesterday, as I was praying, and we've been talking about praying scripture, and learning how to pray scripture, some do that already, and then we're just trying to learn together, how can we pray scripture well? It'll strengthen our lives and our prayers to God. And so yesterday I was asking God, OK, what scripture do I pray this afternoon? And we know the things to pray about safety and release and rescue and wisdom for the negotiators and so forth, but what else can I more substantively even add to that from scripture? And it God took me to Psalm 27:1, it says, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?" And my prayer for the Rabbi and his congregants was that they would not dread or fear, and that God would be their defender yesterday. And then Psalm 7:9-11, I prayed as well, that God would be a shield about them and a protector for them, and then that God would bring about his justice to bear. And it seems that he did in the way he chose to do that last night. So when we think about praying scripture, that's one way, an example of doing that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:20] I also thought yesterday afternoon, I thought, how many times can I pray this afternoon for safety and for wisdom? Do I just keep rolling over the same thing, or are there other things to do? And I was reminded of Jehoshaphat, in Second Chronicles 20, and it's a powerful story that God brought to mind. And Jehoshaphat, in Second Chronicles 20, is the leader of Israel, and he finds out he has enemies about to come at him, other countries that are coming at him, and he's afraid. And that's exactly what yesterday was, people were afraid. And what did Jehoshaphat do? He gathered all the people of Judah together to pray, and to fast, and to seek God on what to do in this moment. And there were people yesterday that were praying all afternoon, seeking God out, on what to do. And I'm grateful for how that was playing out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:20] And so Jehoshaphat has all these people gathered, and then they pray, and he prays this really powerful prayer. And he just says to God, he said, I know you're powerful, and I know that you can do this, and you can deliver us because you've done it before. And we can look back in our past, and we can rehearse the history of how God has rescued and delivered again and again and again, and we know he can do it again, and that's what Jehoshaphat's praying, and he finishes his prayer. And then Jahaziel was a man among them, and God said by his Spirit to this man, this is what I have for you. And Jahaziel says to the crowd, and to Jehoshaphat, hey, you're not going to have to worry about this battle because the battle is the Lord's. And he reiterates it, he said this isn't going to be your fight to fight, it is going to be God's battle, and the people worshiped and prayed when they heard that

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:14] The next morning Jehoshaphat gathers everybody up because they were told to go and watch what God was going to do, and what Jehoshaphat did, it was an unusual move, he got his people and he said, who are the singers? And he put the singers out front, and that's who led the charge. And when they went out, they started praising and singing and exhorting God, and I love that that's what happened. By the time they got to the battlefield, the corpses were already there because God had caused the enemy countries to end up turning on each other. It was God's battle to fight, it wasn't theirs. And I think too often we make the battle ours, when it's not ours, it's God's battle to fight. And he calls us to fight in the unseen places, in the places of prayer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:02] And yesterday afternoon as I was driving, I just got my Spotify praise music and started listening. And the Phil Wickham song that we sang just a moment ago, The Battle Belongs, that's one of the songs that came up. I do Goodness of God first, and then it just takes me from there. And I thought how cool that God would bring this song? That the battle belongs to the Lord. And I started envisioning, and I thought, what if we would have been as well prepared as the elite hostage rescue team from Quantico, Virginia, that on a moment's notice, they're on a plane in here? What if we would have gathered up at Good Shepherd Catholic Churches parking lot, where everybody else was, kept away from what was going on at Congregation Beth Israel, and what if hundreds of us had gathered up and all we did was just fix our gaze on God and praise and exalt him while he fights the battle in the midst of our praise of him? That would have been an unusual way to do it, but I want you to know today the battle is not against other people today, whether it was that situation yesterday, or any situation we find ourselves in today, that's not where the real battle lies.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:23] If you'll turn in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 6, and we're going to hang out in verses 10 through 20 here in just a moment and continue to think about why we pray. Before we do that, though, I just wanted to highlight that for 2022, outside, is kind of our theme word. And we're thinking about being outside our comfort zones, outside the four walls of the church in our faith. And then, 121 Outdoors is something we're launching as well. And I would just say to you today, if you have any interest, if there's something you love to do outdoors, like you love to hike, or you love hanging out at the beach, or mountain biking, or fly fishing, or whatever it might be, we're looking to see 30 to 50 groups over this next year go out and take eight to 12 people out into the outdoors with an intentionality of time alone with God, time in community to be talking about God, and that God would encounter us somehow in the outdoors in his creation. If you have any interest in that, 12:30, when we exit here today, I'll be leading a meeting to talk about that. And it's just with those who are interested in leading a trip, not if you're interested in being on something, just if you're interested in leading something, if you'll let me know that we'll try and make sure that you have a lunch available, and we'll have you out by the Cowboy kick off. All right, so that's fair enough.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:43] That's one thing we're doing, but the other day we were at Passion with 60,000 eighteen to twenty-five-year-olds, and three or four of us went to safe seats at the stadium and we stood in this mass of people. It was not COVID-friendly at all, we're standing in this mass of people trying to push our way through and figure out what's the best angle to get in. And when we got near the place where we could actually get in and go into the stadium, I saw this guy, the back of his sweatshirt. And I thought this is one of those weird moments because I love what's on his shirt, and I want to get a picture of that, but I'm fifty-seven years old among a bunch of 18 to 20-year-olds and I thought, is this weird that I'm sitting here taking a picture of some guy's shirt that I could be his dad? And I did it anyway, so the shirt says Life's Greatest Moments & Deepest Connections Exist Outside Your Comfort Zone. Yes, it says. And then in small letters underneath, yes, it says, seek discomfort. And I love that, because I think that's what happens, I think it's when we're in our uncomfortable moments, I think it's when we're outside of our comfort zones, that we sometimes have the deepest connections in the most exhilarating moments. I think it's in those times that we actually have to lean on God and not on ourselves anymore, but it's purely leaning on him in those moments. And so I'm just praying that our church body, that whatever God is calling us to, that in individuals, families, life groups, our church, that we'd be willing to go outside of our comfort zones, apparently, like this young man is ready to do as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:26] One of the ways that makes a lot of us uncomfortable, the thing we think about is prayer. It's not a comfortable thing for a number of people. And in this time in January, I want us to be thinking about prayer, and I recognize that for some people you might even not know Jesus. And you ask, so why pray? It's a great question, if you don't know Jesus, I don't know why you would be interested in praying, that's fair. It could be that you are in a relationship with God, you know Jesus, but you've never really been taught, you never really learned, how to pray. Hopefully, we're doing some of that in these weeks. It also might be that you've gotten a little bit stale or stagnant, a little bit disinterested, it may be that there's been some hurt and pain, and you're not real interested in talking to God right now. It could be that you have just an incredibly intimate relationship with him, and you can't imagine how it could be any better. I think we're probably all over the map. Hopefully, we can learn together and grow in a way, and even get outside of our comfort zones, that would cause us to just deeply enjoy and be a part of the different purposes that God has for prayer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:37] We've talked about those the last couple of weeks, if you're not caught up, I would encourage you to do so. But the one I want us to talk about today of, why pray, is because we're in a war, we're in a battle, and I want to talk about warfare prayer today, that's our big idea. And I'm afraid what we've done with prayer, I think this is somewhat fair, I think we've domesticated prayer. By that, I mean, we've reduced it to, I have some needs, I have some wants, I have some desires, so it's kind of these domestic things and I come to God with those things. But maybe, maybe you don't even know it, and today you'll be the first time you realize it, that actually the fiercest battles are fought in prayer in the unseen places. And it might be that you already know that, and the question for today would be not, do you know that, but do you practice that? Because that actually says whether you really believe it or not, we can give them mental assent to it, but until it becomes a part of our lives and we're actually practicing and really understanding that the real battle is in the unseen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:52] Yesterday, the real battle was not between the negotiators for the FBI, and the hostage taker, that's not where the battle was. The real battle was not between the hostage taker and the rabbi and the other hostages, that's not where the real battle was. The real battle was in the unseen places, and unlike the reporter last night who said people are driving by, they're offering prayers, which I appreciated, and they're also offering positive vibes. I thought, please, if I'm ever in a crisis, leave your positive vibes to yourself, they're not doing me a lick of good. But I tell you what, prayer is, because God can do something about it, and I value that you do that for me, and I hope you value that I do that for you. So we're talking about going to the unseen places, not throwing out good vibes to you while you're in a crisis.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:47] And so we just want to think about, how do we pray in those places? Do we really go to prayer in those moments and then stay there as well? So I want us to think about that warfare prayer in three parts in Ephesians 6.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:02] The first part is verses 10 through 13, and that is to understand where the real battle takes place. We have to first understand where the real battle takes place from God's word, and this is what he says. Paul is writing this letter to the Ephesians, he's wrapping it up, this is the last thing he says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." Now notice what he does not say here, he doesn't say be strong in yourself, he doesn't say be strong in the strength of your might, that's not what he says.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:47] Now, the other day, I'm kind of on a T-shirt roll right now, but the other day I saw somebody wearing a shirt and it was said, believe in yourself. And I made a comment, I tried to turn it about believing in Jesus, she didn't buy it, so it didn't really work. I said, well, what if we believe in Jesus to have ourselves? She said, honey, they ain't going to work on what you're talking about. I said, OK. But one of the guys that was with us, after this person left, said, I don't know what believe in yourself means, because every time I've believed in myself, it hasn't gone so well. And that's someone, by the way, that understands we have a sin nature, and when we believe in ourselves, we're believing in a tainted part ,and that is not going to actually get us through.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:34] And that's what Paul is saying, he's not saying put on your shirt and believe in yourself. He is saying, hey, if you're going to wear a shirt, wear this, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. And Paul had already talked about, in Ephesians, how our identity is found in Christ. The way Paul wrote his letters, he's the author of this letter, he would write up front about who God is, who Christ is, who you are in Christ, the potential you have to be in Jesus. And then he would turn it and say, here's the practical things that flow out of who you are. He doesn't start with, do these things, he starts with who you are in Christ. And then out of a love for him, you'll want to do those things that he has for you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:20] So he talks about our [inaudible] with Christ, and he says we were dead in our sin, but in Christ, we're made alive. So the only way verse 10 is going to make sense to someone, is if you've come to the place of recognizing that I was dead in my sin, but now, through belief in Jesus Christ, and what he did on the cross, and the power of the Resurrection, now I'm made alive with him. Now that I'm in union with him, I'm connected to him, I'm in Christ, Christ is in me, now I can be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. So I'll lean on that strength.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:01] Then he says, when we're leaning on the strength, this is how we do it. Verse 11, "Put on the full armor of God.". And I'm going to come back to this in just a moment, but Paul gives an image of how we're to actually fight this battle by talking about the armor of the Roman soldiers. Now, Paul was in prison at this time, and he would be chained up, potentially to a Roman guard, so he would see this kind of armor all the time. Plus, in that Roman world in which he lived, he had seen it a number of times as well, and he draws an analogy there that’s very helpful. But basically, he is saying you've got to take something off, and then you're going to put something on here. That's kind of the way Paul writes, you got to take off the old self, and you got something new to put on, and here he says it's armor that you're putting on. Why? "So that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." Specific reason, the reason we put on the armor of God so we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil."

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:03] That phrase, stand firm, is in here multiple times. How can we stand firm in an evil age? He was evil then, he's evil now, he's been evil every time in between. How do we stand firm, though, in the midst of that? There's a way to do that, we don't have to always be off balance, we don't always have to be knocked off of our feet, we can stand firm. He gives us the way there, so stand firm. How do you do that? Well, one, you need to recognize the schemes of the devil.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:36] Not everybody believes in the devil, and I want our church to be an incredibly safe place for everybody to ask their questions and wrestle through the things that are hard for you to grab hold of. Maybe in your life group this week you'd have the courage to just tell your life group, look, I know we talked about the schemes of the devil, I'm having trouble buying that whole thing. Because if we don't believe there's a devil, then the rest of this doesn't even make any sense. Just to be a little bit of help today, Jesus firmly believed in a real devil. In Matthew 4, one example, the devil came to him, full on three temptations after Jesus resisted them with the word of God, the devil left him, and the angels ministered to him. Jesus believed there's a real devil. Peter believed there was a devil, he said in First Peter 5:8, "Be careful about your adversary, the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour." Peter believed. James, in 4:7, he believed. He said, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you as you submit to God."

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:00] So these key people, Jesus himself believed this. So as a follower of Jesus, I believe this. Now what we need to know about the devil is, he's not omnipresent. God is, God is everywhere, Satan is not. He does have a whole array of demons that he unleashes that are everywhere, but he's not everywhere. So we understand who he is, he's a liar, he's an accuser, he's an attacker, he's a deceiver, there is no moral code of ethics with him, it's not a fair fight.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:39] So what are ways that he schemes against us? What are the ways that the devil schemes? In Second Corinthians 2:10-11, Paul says, be careful to not let Satan take advantage of you, specifically, by having unforgiveness towards someone. One of the ways that Satan's schemes, and I think he does this brilliantly, by the way, is by helping us hold on to unforgiveness against people who have hurt us. That unforgiveness turns into bitterness, and Satan gets a stronghold, he gets a hold inside of us. He gets almost a death grip with the unforgiveness and bitterness, and now he's got us, that's one way, he schemes us. He says, you know what, you shouldn't forgive them because of what they did to you. You've heard it said often about forgiveness, when we choose not to forgive, we're actually the ones that have imprisoned ourselves, not the other person. Is there any unforgiveness you're harboring towards someone, any bitterness towards them? It's a scheme of the devil to hold you in that. You can be freed up at the cross, that's where the freedom comes, and the strength to be able to forgive someone else.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:02] How else does the devil scheme? He does it by causing disunity. We've seen that over the last two years, he's taking more ways to disunify the body of Christ, he's used politics, he's used local issues, he's used the pandemic and different views of people on the pandemic, he's used politics, he's used race, he has used so many different things to divide the unity of the body of Christ. He is a schemer; he's been brilliant at the divisiveness that he's created.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:36] He also schemes against our children, our middle schoolers, our high schoolers, our elementary age, our preschoolers, the most vulnerable of who we are. And it's an unfair fight that he's bringing if we're not fighting the right fight. I read just the other day where some pedophile groups are making a case that not all pedophilia is child abuse. Now, lest you think that's extreme, think about where we are today versus a few years ago, in what we thought could never happen. When the sexual ethic is, anything goes, that's exactly what that means, anything goes. That's happening underneath, you may not see it in mainstream media, you may not see it yet, but that is a push, and when will it rise? Satan, is scheming all the time, how do we stand firm against that? We stand firm by putting on the full armor of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:51] Jim Dennison wrote this on January 6th, he was writing his article and he said, it got to a point where he said if I were Satan...And this is how he framed it, he said, "If I were Satan, I would convince people to be atheists. And then he said, if I couldn't convince them to be atheists, I'd convince them to be agnostics." If I can get you to not know if there's a God or not, then the practical consequences are the same as atheism. So if I can't get you to deny there's a God, then I'll at least get you to say you can't really know him. And then he said, "Statistically for the U.S., right now, ninety-one percent of our country has some form of faith in God." So that means only nine percent really outwardly proclaim to be an atheist or an agnostic, ninety-one percent still have faith. Then he said, "If I were Satan, this is what I would do, and it's what he's done because sixty-three percent of American adults believe that having faith matters more than which faith you have." Which he describes is really faith in faith, sixty-three percent, it doesn't matter what the object of our faith is, it's just that you have faith, that's the point.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:11] And then Denison went on to say, people who have faith in faith still gather for worship, still do Bible studies, and still serve in the church? And they check the box, but their heart is never transformed, there's never a real relationship with God himself. You never hear God or connect intimately with God in prayer, it's worth thinking about. And then he also said, if it's just faith in faith, then we'll sidestep sharing our faith because it doesn't matter that Jesus is the object of our faith, it's just do you have faith in something? I think Satan has done a great job of scheming and deceiving with that kind of idea.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:01] He says in verse 12, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood." So I just want to reiterate, and from the scripture, that our struggle is not against each other, it's not against other groups, it's not against other people, that's not where our struggle is. He says, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." It's an awful adjective descriptor of the evil one, of the enemy, the powerful, dark, wicked. Satan has a hierarchy, a structure, of the demonic that he unleashes in the ways that he schemes against the people of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:45] Because our battle is not against people, then I would just like to throw this caution out there, before you go in attack mode on social media, or before you're after another group, or before you're after another person, could you just pause for a minute, step back and say, what's going on in the unseen world here? Where is the battle, really? Can I get in on that fight? And this is where I'd ask the practical question, am I spending more time in this fight, this is really where it's won? I can't tell you how, my wife is just a godly, prayerful woman, and most of the time when we start figuring out how we're going to try to solve something ourselves, it doesn't go well and we back down and say, do you know what, we just need to ask God to change the heart of that particular person. And I can't tell you how many times we've watched that happen, we just sit back after we pray and just watch. Now, sometimes we need to step in, but have we first gone into the unseen, fought the fight there, before we step in, so we know. And then we go in with the right mentality, the right mindset, we understand the enemy, we understand what's happening, and we know what God wants us to do in the midst of it. Our fight is not against each other, and unfortunately, Satan has done a nice job of scheming us against one another.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:28] It's what we sang all morning long, we have the victory, the victories in Christ, it's our eyes fixed on him, we lean back into him. When he comes back in verse 13 and says, "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." Take up the full armor of God and stand firm. We know where the battle is. We know we can stand firm. We know we can win.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:55] How do we do it? That's the second part of this. Now, I know how to armor up to fight the battle. What I'm about to describe for you, I pray almost every day, it would be a rare day that I don't pray this for myself, for whoever else I'm praying for on that day. I believe this is one of the best things we can pray for each other when we talk about this battle that's going on, it's a fierce battle day in and day out. In verse 14 he says, "Stand firm therefore..." So there it is again, "Stand firm, having girded your loins with truth.".

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:28] Now he has the idea of a Roman soldier in mind, and he's given a metaphor, a picture here, of how to armor up spiritually thinking about what a Roman soldier looks like. He gives the order of how a Roman soldier would put on his uniform, and the first thing the soldier would do is put on the belt over his cloak, and that belt was absolutely key to be able to move freely and easily. The belt would be used to bring up the cloak, and to kind of get it into a place where the feet aren't going to be entangled or trapped, so it would be easy, fluid movement. It's where the bronze plate that covered their chests then would attach in to, it's where the sword would be against, that belt was crucial for everything else, it was what everything else would attach to. And here he says it's the belt of truth, what we do first is we put on truth. Jesus is the truth; his word is the truth. The idea here is to have integrity, so we belt up, in the morning, with truth, with integrity, with Jesus. And when I'm walking, in truth, I can move easily and freely, nothing to hide, there's good fluid movement.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:49] Then he says, "Put on the breastplate of righteousness." And so it would have been a plated chest protector, it was called a heart protector, so he said, put on that. And we're told in scripture, again, we need to guard our hearts, that's where life flows. So we put on this breastplate that protects our heart, and what he's saying here is it's righteousness, it's the righteousness of Jesus that we receive that protects our heart, and then it's an upright character that flows from our upright heart.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:22] From there he says, "Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." And you've seen those cheesy movies, or you've seen a Christmas drama done, or an Easter thing, or something and you're thinking, OK, what are they wearing? And the Roman soldiers would wear sandals, leather on the bottom, straps over the top, sometimes there would be straps that would go up around their shins to give them more stability. And then underneath that sandal, for the soldier, were studs or nails, it enabled them to go on long marches, and it enabled them to stand their ground when they were in a fight. So what he's telling us here is, how do we stand our ground? What are those shoes? It's peace, the peace that only comes from Christ and what Christ did on our behalf, that's where the peace comes from, it's where we become whole. And it says we're whole, that we're able to actually share that good news with somebody else, how they can be whole. So people who continue to find their peace in themselves will continue to find themselves not at peace, but there can be a constant peace that's found in Christ. So, it's not only that we have it, but we're ready, we're ready to share it with somebody else.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:43] And then he says, "In addition to that, take up the shield of faith which you'll be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." So take up the shield, and so now you've got the belt on that's truth, you've got the righteousness cover in our hearts, we've got peace that's got our feet on solid ground so we can stand firm, and then there are still exposed parts of the Roman soldier's body. And they had these oblong shields that were made of two pieces of wood, and on one side would be leather that would protect it, and they did that because when they were in battle, people would shoot arrows, they'd have pits on the end of the arrow, and it would be flaming as it came. When it would hit that leather shield, the shield would take in that flame and extinguish the flame, so their body was protected. It also had a locking mechanism so that they could stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, and have the shield in front of them to extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one, of their enemy. That's exactly what Satan does, he just keeps shooting flaming arrows at us. He's going to shoot those into us, and it's going to feel like, you know what, you're not enough, you're never going to be enough, you're not good enough. He's going to shoot that flaming arrow that says, really, do you think God's good with you, with your sexual past? Really? He's going to fire that arrow right at you, flaming. Really, you've got that addiction, you never get past it, you keep coming back confessing it, and you keep losing, really, do you really think God loves you, do you really think you're worthwhile? So, the flaming arrows, he just keeps firing them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:32] But you know what, the shield of faith, faith in God and his promises and what he says about me, that's why we try to talk so much about who we are in Christ. No, Satan, you don't get to say that to me today because there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I'm good, thank you very much, he's covered me at the cross. And you might be picking at that one thing that I haven't told everybody else because it's too embarrassing and too shameful to think about saying it, and you can fling that arrow at me, but I want you to know today that what I understand about Jesus is in the deepest crevice of my soul, where I've got the sin the most hidden and it's eating me up, that Jesus on the cross has covered that one, too, so you don't get to get me on that either.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:11] And I want you to know today, you can free up, by getting that sin out of isolation and out of the dark. In James 5, we're told to confess our sins to one another, to pray for each other and we'll be healed. There's something that happens when we quit holding on, that someone said a couple of weeks ago, to that last two percent of sin that we don't want our spouse to know, we don't want our kids to know, we don't want our best friend to know, we're hiding it, we think we're doing a good job of it, but it's robbed us of life. And I want you to know Satan doesn't have the power to have that over you, there is a shield of faith that says we're safe in Jesus, so I can say whatever because I don't have condemnation from him and he's the one that matters today.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:57] We've got that shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, they put on that helmet, and that salvation at the cross, we know that the power of sin was broken. So that whatever those addictions are, whatever that besetting sin is, we don't have to lose to that today, the power has been lost and taken away at the cross. But do we claim it, do we appropriate it, do we think about that and remind ourselves, oh yeah, I've been forgiven of that, he took care of that, I don't have to live in regret, I'm good today and I'm reminded that that doesn't have power over me, it's been broken.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:32] And then the sword of the spirit, that's God's word, it's able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, it's an offensive and a defensive weapon. Sometimes when we hear God's word, we might feel conviction or guilt or strength, it's because God's word goes into the very core of who you are and who I am. His word can see the depth of our thoughts, no one will ever know the full depth of your thoughts, and your hurt, and your pain, no human will ever be able to fully get that, but God sees to the very depth of who we are. And his word, it penetrates that, and it stirs, and if we move on it, then he frees us with his word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:28] This is the armor that we're putting on when it says, take up the armor, this is what we do so that we can walk and walk well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:37] Yesterday, every FBI soldier, if you've seen any video footage, looking at just the way they were equipped and armored up last night. Not one FBI agent showed up ill-equipped and not armored and ready for the task at hand, they had every protective equipment and offensive equipment they needed to be able to do their job.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:03] Let me do it on a lighter note, this afternoon the Cowboys play the 49ers. Dak Prescott will not be sent out on the field without a helmet, without shoulder pads, without whatever else he's covering himself with, without what he needs to cover his legs with. He will not get sent out there just in his street clothes to play the game this afternoon and expect that some three-hundred-and-fifty-pound interior defensive lineman is going to come in and he's going to come out, OK, like that. No, he will be completely, as much as they can do to protect him, he will be protected. You would never send anybody out to any of the games today, there won't be anybody out there unprotected the best that they can be protected.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:47] And yet I'm afraid that in the most important place where we need to protect our spouses, to protect our children, to protect our friends, to protect our life groups, to protect our church, I wonder if we send our spouses out every day unprotected and susceptible to the enemy to undo. In our world today, when we ask the question, why pray? It is crucial that we go to battle for the purity of both husband and wife. That we go to battle for the purity of our single friends. That we go to battle for the protection of the minds of our children, they're being shaped by so many different sources, and he's given us instructions of how to battle, and how to do that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:11] And the way we do it, in verses 18 to 20 is to engage in full on prayer so we can keep winning. It's to engage in prayer, we pray that God will put on us this armor so that we can fight against the schemes of the devil. Verse 18, "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." Notice, he says all, multiple times, with all prayer, at all times, in the Spirit, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for who? For all the saints.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:49] What we need to know when we read the word saints in the Bible, it is not this elite group of people that churches have made it's like the super-elite Christians, saints are followers of Jesus. If you're a follower of Jesus, God doesn't see you first as a sinner, that's not how he sees me, that's how he sees you, he sees you as a saint, as a son, as a daughter. Yes, you struggle with sin, yes, I battle with sin, that's not the primary way he sees us, he sees us as saints. And he tells us where to pray for the saints, which means we're to pray for each other.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:22] And then for himself, he says, "Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Here he is in prison, he's not trying to get out of his circumstance, what he's praying and asking in that day, we pray for me that I'll be bold in the circumstance I'm in so that I can represent Christ well and make known who Christ is. Too often we're praying to get out of our circumstance, rather than asking God, give me a boldness and a courage in my circumstance so that I can communicate the good news of Christ in what I'm in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:06] I don't always understand what God is up to, but I know he's always up to his name being made known. So love and encourage us to pray. Friday night, we had our second prayer and praise night, and the Spanish part of 121 led us, it was a phenomenal bilingual night in prayer. And at one point, one of our Spanish ladies, she prayed over us, and I tell you what, we don't need to grade people's prayers by any means, but I want her praying for me. And I want to figure out how I make sure to let her know what I need her praying for me, it was some of the most powerful minutes I've been in for a while, just listening to her pray. And again, I'm not trying to grade this, I think God hears a song when we bumble around or whatever, but there was a power about what she was doing in the Spirit as she prayed on behalf of our communities, the community around us, each of us. I just absolutely loved it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:05] But let me tell you the second thing that happened that night that marked me. A lady left, and she waited for me out in the lobby, and she ended up praying with four other men and one other lady. And she is single, and she said, I'm not usually around men when men pray. And she said, I can't tell you tonight how powerful it was to have four men who love God, that we're praying and praying over me. I want to give you a thought of why I think that's so powerful, and I want to challenge our men. I started thinking after the last week, I may start running you off, but I think you're game for the challenge. I think that was so powerful for her because God has designed men to protect. And we may think our protection is physical protection, there is that side, it might be a financial provision, we're protecting that, there is that side, but there is no more important side than to protect your family spiritually.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:17] I love what Rick Warren posted the other day, somebody put this out in our life group. Rick Warren, he's a pastor at Saddleback Church in California, he said, I don't have to be against something to be for something, and he named off several scenarios. So I want you to know, I am for women, I don't have to be against women to be for men, I can be for men and for women. Our culture today is emasculating men, Satan is scheming and taming our men, Satan is making our men passive. I run into that more times in conversation than I can shake a stick at, that is a scheme of the devil. By demeaning, making him impassive, tame, we're actually removing protection from our women. We can also elevate and raise the value of women in all the different aspects we talked about, while men play the role that God is designed for them. He's called us to be protectors. If I were Satan, and I was scheming our dads today, I would scheme them by saying you should coach everything that your kid does and make sure you're exhausted by the time you get home at night, so there's no time to spiritually protect your family, that's the way I would scheme. Can you do both and? Sure, but is that what's happening? And so I just want to challenge husbands and dads to spiritually protect their family. And one way to do that is to pray with the armor of God so that when your family goes out, you know that you've prayed over them the thing that will enable them to stand firm and to live the lives of joy and pleasure that God has called them to.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:36] One thing I want to do is model for you praying the scripture, because this wasn't modeled for me necessarily early on. I know when I talk about some of this, it's just like I've never seen it. I think it's critical that we see things, and so I want to pray again this week, and we'll continue to do this. And I've pre-asked the people I pray over, so I don't want you to think, man, this makes me really nervous when it gets to this part, I wonder if he's going to say us, I want you to know, on this, I'm pre-asking. Sometimes I tell a story and forget, I'll apologize if I ever do that, but mostly I try to ask.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:14] And so for Peyton and Andrea Mays, they're right over here, their kids are Merritt, Stella, and Channing, and I just want to pray over them. And not as just a modeling, this is my prayer for them. And I hope that no matter who you are, that you would take this and do the same in your families. That this week, who is somebody you can pray out loud this way? Just praying the scripture over your spouse, or praying the scripture over your kids, or praying the scripture over your adult parents, how incredibly meaningful would that be to do that? And I just believe when we pray the scripture, we get engulfed in the power of God because this is the way he speaks to us, in his word, it's a primary way he speaks.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:06] So let's pray together, and I'm going to pray for Peyton, and for Andrea, and for their family. And then I want to give you a moment to pray this yourself silently for someone as a way to prepare and ask God, who do I do this with this week?

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:22] So, Father, this morning, I pray for Peyton and Andrea, and God, I thank you that they know you. And God. I pray today that they would be strong in the Lord and in the strength of your mind. I pray, God, that they'd not lean on themselves or believe in themselves, but God that they would lean into your strength and be strong in you. I pray that God for Merrit, and for Stella, and for Channing, the same today. And God, I pray they would put on the full armor of God so that they would be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Today, God, will you help them to stand firm because they've armored up with you, and God that they would recognize what the schemes are that the devil brings against them and then God that they'd be able to resist well, with the truth of your word? Father, I pray that they would know, that their family would know, their struggle is not against flesh and blood today, it's not against anyone in the family, it's not against their friends, it's not against people at school, God today that they would know that it's against the rulers, the powers, the world forces in this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. And God that you would teach them as you're teaching us how to pray in that realm, in the unseen, where things are going on, and where things can actually change. God, today, just as a reiteration, would you help them take up the full armor of God so they can resist in the evil day and stand firm? God, will you armor them up today, for Peyton, will you, as the husband in the dad, will you belt him with truth today, the truth of Jesus and that he'd walk in that freely and lead his family that way? Father, I pray for Andrea and for the kids that they would have on today, righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus, and that they would have upright character. And God, the peace of Christ would overwhelm them, and that they'd have the shoes of peace, and God, that they would carry that to other people that they might know it as well. Father, I pray when Satan brings flaming arrows against them, lies, attacks, and deceptions, will you help them raise up the shield of faith, extinguish those with the promises of God today. Father, I pray you'll cover their minds knowing that you've saved them, and that sin no longer has power over them, there's nothing in their world that can chain them or hold them because you freed them today. And father, I pray that they would pray at all times, and they'd continue to grow and learn in that, they'd be alert and praying for other people. And God, I pray boldness for them, that whatever circumstances Peyton is in, Andrea's in, Stella is in, Merritt is in, Channing is in, whatever those are, God. I pray that they would recognize the privileged position they have as being ambassadors and representatives of Jesus. And Father, that they would make known the Gospel of Christ, which actually brings true hope today. I pray that in Jesus' name, amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:22] Will you just quietly, if you have your Bibles and apps, pray Ephesians 6:10-20 for somebody. And then ask God, how do you want me to do that? How many times can I do this, this week, with multiple people, my family, whoever it is? And that we might be a people who pray, and that we're engaged where the real war is taking place in the unseen spots.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051