The Last One Standing

I have confessed on these pages before that prayer has never been my strong suit spiritual discipline. My mind races. I get easily distracted. And I have never been able to sit still. Even while relaxing, something on me is moving.

But the past 18 months or so, I have been faced with situations where the only weapons that would win the battle are exactly what Paul tells us to use in Ephesians 6. It’s so interesting that the apostle uses very real, tactical weapons as imagery for the invisible, spiritual weapons we use in the spiritual realm. A literal sword does no good when fighting a spiritual battle. An actual breastplate won’t save you from a demonic strike.

Paul clearly tells us two things: 1—Stand firm. 2—Pray. The basic translation is to keep praying until the battle is won. Don’t give up and don’t stop short.

My dear friend, Dr. Ed Laymance, told me: “99% of the time when darkness wins, it’s because they know they can outlast us. We’ll grow weary and lose faith and stop the fight. When we do, they can win. And they know that.”

In the Rocky movies, he was never bigger, faster, or stronger than any of his opponents. So how did he always win by the final fight of the movie? He simply outlasted them until he was the only one with any strength left to throw a punch.

Now, here’s where that analogy falls short but also the focus in fighting spiritual battles through prayer is clear—we aren’t the one throwing the punches. Jesus is. We are in His corner, though, standing there and shouting until the final blow. But then when He wins, we can’t jump in the ring and give ourselves credit either. We lift Him up. He won but we have the privilege of being ringside with Him in the fight.

Lastly, here’s the really tricky one that none of us are going to understand this side of Heaven. While Jesus has already dealt darkness the final blow and the ultimate war is won, inside our daily battles here and now, why does He seem to rely so much on us standing firm and praying for Him to overcome the situation for which we are interceding? The only possible answer when He can do anything He wants and can accomplish anything without us is He desires the intense and deep relationship that standing together and communicating ringside creates. This depth of battle brings us closer to Him, to those we are interceding with, and the one we are interceding for. Who were the two closest people in any Rocky fight scene? He and Mick. What else could it be?

Plus throughout Scripture, it is abundantly clear that until God rings the final bell, we are very much in a continual battle for the souls of mankind.

Today, whatever you are praying and believing for, commit to be the last one standing, whether flesh or foe. Don’t lose simply because you gave up. Getting your butt beat in the battle is one thing but giving up the fight is quite another.

Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” —Mark 9:28-29 NLT

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