Art of Prayer
by Bruce W. Durbin
"Pray without ceasing."
1 Thessalonians 5:17
In the spiritual realm, the battle that rages between God (Good) and Satan (Evil) represents pain and suffering. In spiritual battle, those who would die, without repenting, face an eternity of pain and suffering: There will be an eternity of horror. To those who would become Christians, life
in a world wherein Satan runs loose often represents a place of hardships, struggles, and sorrows. Yet, for the Christian, the end of the battle means everlasting peace and joy in Heaven.
While there constantly rages a spiritual battle for souls, it is the desire of God that none should perish. As John 3:16 both warns and encourages:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
In the physical realm, mediators may either avoid wars or negotiate treaties. In the spiritual realm, there is either only victory (Heaven) or defeat (Hell), with everyone who is born into this world, being an active participant in spiritual warfare: There are no innocent bystanders and
there are no neutral corners, in which to hide. As Relevation 20:12-15 warns:
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.....And the dead were judged out those things which were written in the books, according to their works....And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Concept of God
In this life, there are many who would claim that God resides in all men:
God is man and man is God. God becomes defined on individual terms: God is who and what I say He is. Books are written attempting to define, categorize, and portray the attributes of God, while the truth of the Holy Bible is forgotten.
Before a study of prayer (the communion between man and God) can be fundamentally addressed, there must first be the basic belief that God is not man. If God was man, then why would we need to commune with Him? God not only exists, but His existence is not based on man's existence. If there was not a single man to form the concept of God, then God would still
exist. God's existence and power isn't dependent upon either the existence of man or
acceptance by man.
When a man believes that God does not exist and elects not to commune with God, God's power is not diminished. As there must be the belief in the omnipotence of God, there must also be the belief that the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God, rather than just a book detailing historical
In John 1:1,3-4, a glimpse of the incomprehensible substance of God is provided:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men."
God doesn't need either our prayers or our fellowship. God wants our prayers and fellowship. To this end, it is important to develop a prayer life to the degree which strengthens our fellowship with God.
In sermons, the term "Prayer Warriors", is often utilized in referring to those in the church, who pray without ceasing for those in need. In referring to Christians as "warriors", there is the implication that we are engaged in spiritual combat. As stated in Ephesians 6:11:
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Are there times when you feel that your prayers have no effect?
Training to be Victorious
The "Art of War", by Sun Tzu, has been recognized as a classical study of strategy, as applied to war. The following is one of the key elements in insuring victory:
"Know the enemy and know yourself, and in a hundred battles you will never be defeated.......If you are ignorant of either the enemy or yourself, you will surely be defeated in every battle."
To engage in spiritual combat is the same as engaging in physical combat:
To be victorious, one must train.
There is a saying, "Everyone wants to tell war stories, but no one wants to go to war."
Every Christian wants to be able to tell stories referencing the power of their prayers. How their prayers were answered in a powerful way by God. How their prayers saved souls. How their prayers healed the sick. However, in order to achieve the above rewards of prayer, two questions must be answered:
Who wants to spend time strengthening their prayer life?
Who wants to spend time on their knees in supplication before God?
Train to pray, not to merely survive, but to be victorious.
Praying - The Principle
In the uncertainty of this life, a Christian may often find themselves alone, without the physical presence of other Christians to provide spiritual support and to offer prayers to God. In the uncertainty of this life, a Christian may often find themselves without their beloved Holy Bible,
from which to read the promises of God. In the uncertainty of this life, a Christian may find themselves with no visible forms of defense; they hold nothing tangible in their hands.
Do you surrender?
In the Martial Arts, there is a form of study commonly referred to as Karate. In A Dictionary of the Martial Arts, Louis Frederic defines "Karate" as the following:
"A fighting art using only the bare hands (and feet)."
In Karate-Do Kyohan: The Master Text, Gichin Funakoshi relates:
"In Okinawa, a miraculous and mysterious martial art has come down to us from the past. It is said that one who masters its techniques can defend himself readily without resort to weapons and can perform remarkable feats....the breaking of several thick boards with his fist."
As indicated above, practitioners of Karate often demonstrate their techniques through the breaking of boards and cement blocks. If an untrained person approached a block of wood and attempted to duplicate the Karate practitioner's example, then the untrained person would likely
suffer injury. Before the Karate practitioner breaks boards, he first is trained on how to form a punch. The Karate practitioner will then spend hours perfecting the art of punching. The Karate practitioner will then practice his punches on soft objects, such as punching bags, and then moves up to striking a hard surface. The Karate practitioner will then attempt to break a single
board. Upon successfully breaking a single board, the Karate practitioner will then progress to breaking two (2) boards, and then three (3) boards, and so on. The Karate practitioner starts by breaking a single board, rather than attempting to break ten (10) boards.
In the area of prayer, there is often the tendency to ignore the practice of daily prayer. A person may wait until an overwhelming obstacle confronts them, before they will consider praying. Perhaps, the obstacle assumes the form of physical illness. Perhaps, the obstacle assumes the form of financial ruin. As the Karate practitioner trains to break first one (1) board and then progresses to breaking ten (10) boards, the Christian must pray daily and overcome first small obstacles (through prayer), in order to face larger obstacles.
A key element in the ability of a practitioner of Karate which allows him to smash through a stack of cement bricks is development of "seeing." When the Karate practitioner approaches a stack of bricks, he doesn't see a stack of bricks, he sees a broken stack of bricks. When the Karate practitioner punches a stack of bricks, he doesn't focus on punching the first brick,rather he focuses on punching "through" the last brick.
When a Christian approaches obstacles in their lives, do they "see" just the difficulty or do they "see" God breaking through? If a person "sees" only the obstacle and not the power of God to answer their prayers, then they will literally hit a brick wall.
Gichin Funakoshi further relates:
"One must have the courage, if required for the sake of justice, to face a million and one opponents. For the Karate-do student, the most shameful trait is indecisiveness."
In the area of prayer, there is the potential of being indecisive, with this indecisiveness causing a person's faith to waver. A person faces an obstacle and prays to God, believing in the power of God. After praying, the person starts to think that either God didn't hear their prayer or God
When a person goes to God in prayer, there must be the decisiveness and complete faith that God not only hears their prayer, but He will also answer their prayer, according to His perfect will. If the Christian truly believes in the omnipotence of God, then this faith in God becomes the substance of one's courage in facing not only small obstacles, but a million obstacles.
As the beginning student of Karate enters the classroom, he must have faith in the wisdom and skill of his teacher. The student must believe that the teacher's instructions are aimed at developing the student's skill in Karate. The student must believe that the teacher possesses experience, skill, and knowledge in the techniques of Karate (i.e., a student does not learn
Karate from a piano teacher). As the teacher directs the student to harden his fists by punching a hard surface, the student must have faith that this training is essential in the student's development as a Karate practitioner (i.e., the teacher is not directing the student to punch hard surfaces to hurt the student, rather the teacher is instructing the student to punch hard surfaces in order to avoid injury). While the student may not immediately understand all that a
Karate teacher directs, the student must have faith in the wisdom of the teacher.
Likewise, a Christian must have complete faith in the wisdom of God. After Jesus Christ's resurrection, one of His disciples, Thomas, could not believe that Jesus Christ had risen from the grave. As John 20:25 details:
"But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
If a Christian cannot believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then there is no foundation upon which to build their faith. Being a Christian means believing in Jesus Christ. As the Karate student has faith in the wisdom of their teacher, a Christian must have faith in the
wisdom of God. When sorrows, problems, and struggles confront a Christian, it is essential
to avoid the question, "Why is this happening to me?" It is important to have faith that God is not only in complete control, but is also receptive to one's prayers. Asking "Why?" gives the impression that the student knows more than the teacher. Consider again the substance of God. As Job 38:4 relates:
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?"
As God was the creator of the physical world, He was also the creator of our life. As Genesis 2:7 relates:
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
What is the power of the enemy that faces you? As Matthew 10:28 instructs:
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:
but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Praying - The Art
Whatever opponent the Karate practitioner faces, it is with empty hands. Whatever opponent(s) a Christian faces, it should be with empty hands and in prayer to God; hands outstretched towards God, knowing that all strength comes from Him. The practitioner of Karate will often spend hours striking a hard surface. In the course of years of practicing his punches and developing his art, a Karate practitioner's knuckles will become callused. Does a Christian's knees become callused, through countless hours of praying and communing to God or does their heart become callused, through failing to pray?
Pray as though your soul depended upon it, because it does.
Without prayer, who will see Heaven?
Bruce W. Durbin is a freelance writer, whose articles have featured on many Christian online publications. He is also the author of Almost Heaven and Almost Hell (www.iuniverse.com and