While crusing in a boat with 40 other tourists on the Sea of Galilee last week my mind went to the battle Jesus fought for our redemption. We were on a cruise boat, but Jesus came on a battle ship. The Holy Spirit had just spoken to us about this the night before so it was fresh on my mind.
When Jesus started His ministry in Galilee He entered into it with a battle mind-set. He came on a holy mission. It commenced with 40 days and nights of prayer and fasting. He broke the region open with the power of God.
It gave me chills walking around that Sea knowing Jesus based His ministry there. I thought about how the gospel of the kingdom He preached exploded with healings and miracles beyond Galilee and into Syria, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond Jordan multitudes followed Him (Mat 4:23-25).
“Take up the whole armor of God” exhorts us to enter into the prayer life and reminds us of the battle (Eph 6:10-18). The imagery is quite clear and intense. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principlalities and powers…” (v 12).
The Lord unveiled this truth that needs to be brought to our remembrance. He showed my wife and I the reason some places are harder to break through than others. It is because Satan has set up His kingdom in these places with a long standing in it. As an example, look at North Africa and the Middle East. These were places that once flourished with the gospel in spite of the opposition. The breakthroughs came from the prayer life of the Church that gave birth to the power. Once again today governments have established antichrist strongholds through the rule of Satan, making it more difficult to penetrate. There’s a greater responsibility before the Lord in those hard places to open it up for the salvation of the people who live there. You are fighting for their eternal souls.
Jesus got victory over every strong man and every kind of demon force. He wants us to do the same.
“However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Mat 17:21)
The key to a life of prayer and fasting is to continually stand and pray in that place of, “Not my will but Your will be done.” That is the key to winning the battle. That is how Jesus won it.
If the disciples had not fallen asleep in the garden they would’ve been more ready for the battle. Jesus wanted them to get the victory in prayer and be able to understand that, and after a temporary setback, they did so later.
“Could you not watch with Me one hour? (Mat 26:40)” Jesus asked Peter.
He wanted Peter and His disciples to watch and pray so that they would not enter into temptation. He wanted them to be sober-minded for He knew the enemy was as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Jesus wanted His disciples to have this battle-ready mentality.
When we were missionaries in Gambia, West Africa it was a hard place spiritually – 96% of the population of this tiny nation were Muslim. We had lived the prior years in Liberia and Sierra Leone where the gospel flourished among the multitudes. Everything came fairly easy. But in Gambia it was different.
The Holy Spirit reminded us of that battle where prayer and fasting became a priority, and where, by the Spirit, we dealt with the principality of that nation. We saw things change. A door that was closing was opened wider by God through prayer and fasting.
When we left Gambia we knew that if the team we trained did not stay in that place of watching, praying, and fasting they would not continue.
This is where older men miss it in their ministries. They don’t keep the same battle stance as when they started. The initial battle mentality they had evolves into a cruise mentality. It’s easy to do.
When I went to Liberia as a young man I shaved my head and fasted for nearly the first 3 weeks there. I had an abundance of zeal for the battle, but years later, more feasting than fasting led to a cruise ship mentality.
It’s time for the body of Christ to get out of the cruise ship and enter into the battle ship. There will be casualties, but we must stay, stand, and fight. The good fight of faith is a fight that we win.
Prayer and fasting positions us for victory and increases our chances 100-fold.