My senior year of college involved taking an in-depth Shakespeare class. One of the requirements for passing was to memorize and recite 200 verses of Shakespeare’s literature. To put it mildly, I panicked. I tried. I really did. But the lines would simply not commit to my memory. My professor was sympathetic and allowed me to do another project. I finished the class with a decent grade and was very thankful.
So, years later, when my women’s Bible study leader talked about the importance of scripture memorization, I nodded politely, knowing I would not do it, believing I could not do it. I learned, however, that scripture and prayer are inexplicably linked. As I prayed for the ability to hide God’s Word in my heart, scripture verses began to take hold in my head and my heart.
Over the years, I have been delighted by the fact that I can memorize scripture. I may not be able to quote chapter and verse consistently, but I can recall many scriptures. It is so important to know God’s Word, speak God’s Word, and pray God’s Word, even out loud at times, as a powerful, offensive weapon. Hebrews 4:12 assures us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Bible study and prayer go together. Scripture is God talking to us, and prayer is us talking to Him. My mom used to encourage me to converse with God about the simplest of things. It taught me to understand just how involved He is in my life. So, for me, praying is simply talking to Him about anything and everything. During various seasons of life, my prayer life has looked different. There are certainly times for concentrated prayer and quiet moments with Jesus. But, when the house was full of babies and toddlers running about, I often prayed while changing diapers and preparing meals. Now that my nest is empty, quiet time is easily found, and as I pray for my children and husband, the Spirit prompts me to reach beyond the circles of my own family. There is a great need beyond my front door.
During a recent National Day of Prayer gathering I attended, so many faithful folks reached beyond themselves and interceded for other individuals, for our community, and our nation. As God’s Word was read aloud and God’s people prayed, it was a powerful picture of the Body of Christ coming together. I am so grateful for these moments. They encourage me and offer a tiny glimpse of what Heaven must be like.
Encouragement is also found in other places. There’s a new song on the radio. It reminds me to pray when I am afraid and to trust when I doubt. It speaks of where true power lies.
“So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees
With my hands lifted high
Oh God, the battle belongs to You”
“An almighty fortress, You go before us
Nothing can stand against the power of our God
You shine in the shadow, You win every battle
Nothing can stand against the power of our God”
The Bible contains many great war stories, especially in the Old Testament. Chapter after chapter, certain words jump off the page at me. “Battleline,” “troops,” “ambush,” “casualties,” but then the language changes, “victorious,” “regain power,” “strength,” “prospered.”
Finally, a prayer is uttered, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. LORD, you are our God…”
We are never more in the thick of battle than when we are praying and interceding before Almighty God.
I recently read a novel where one of the main characters suffered a stroke. Her speech was taken. Her physical body was paralyzed and useless as she spent her days in bed. Yet, her mind was intact, and she could communicate with a rudimentary sign language of sorts. She spent her days and many of her nights praying. As various caregivers met her needs, she did nothing else but pray. She was doing battle, waging war against unseen forces that sought to steal, kill and destroy. In the end, good triumphed over evil, for she had been fervently praying for her children’s salvation. Her son surrendered to Christ after years of rebellion, as did her daughter, who died of illness shortly thereafter.
When there is nothing else to do, pray. When all seems lost, pray. As Believers, we are on the front lines of spiritual warfare, and when scripture is hidden in our hearts, it is more easily on our lips. God’s Word is our weapon. Draw your sword. Prayer is a call to action. Wage war. Step into the thick of the battle.