The Training Ground Series – Small battles now prepare us for bigger battles later.
Are You Willing to Fight? – Fighting now produces perseverance later.
What tactic does the devil use with you to thwart your promised land? Is there one he continually uses against you? Are there multiple? When does he attack? How do you handle these lies when they come? Do you have weapons you use to fight back?
The devil has schemes to work against us, but the Lord provides with ways to fight back. I’m sure you’ve heard the very popular “Armor of God” verses:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And while there are many weapons I could talk about, I want to focus on one that is not mentioned; the weapon of praise.
When God declares purpose over our life, the devil uses his schemes to stand against us, entice us off the path, cause us to struggle and become quiet. Because he knows that if God’s plans come to fruition, His glory will also come. God’s praises will be sung and hearts will turn back to God.
I think one tactic the devil uses to silence us is contentment. He uses times when nothing extremely good or bad is happening to fly under the radar with his attacks, entice us into contentment, and lullaby us to sleep. Because if nothing good or bad is happening, why would we have reason to praise the Lord’s name?
Think about it, when nothing is going super terribly wrong, what does your prayer life look like?
In times of trouble, we run to God for help, strength, protection, and rescue.
Once we are rescued out of our pit of despair, we praise His name and how He is working in our lives for His glory.
In times of prosperity, we also sing His praises but it soon becomes easier to forget what He has done.
And then, once we have been saved and the joy from being rescued has worn off, we become lazily content.
Lazily Content: When we are not actively seeking Him, feel fine to walk in this “easier” version of life, and can’t find those “big things” to sing His praises for.
I’ve recently wanted to add Reflection back into my life, so I’ve started re-reading my journals from college. It’s super funny to be reminded that 25-year-old Ariane has been praying the same prayers that 19-year-old Ariane started to pray years ago.
The one that made me laugh the most was “Help me be humble. I am so bad at being humble sometimes.” I laugh because boy oh boy He is still at work with that one.
However the most encouraging part of reading 19-year-old Ariane’s prayers, is that she continually praises God for every.little.thing. Literally everything. She was a new Christian when everything was fresh, exciting and everything about God left her in amazement.
“God you are so good!” Is repeated at least every other page for various reasons. And it both encourages and challenges me, because where are my praises of God’s goodness today?
I think it’s because part of me fell asleep over the past few years. It’s easy to get into a routine when you’re praying over the same thing for days, weeks, months, and even years. It can become frustrating: “God why haven’t you answered these prayers yet?”
And sometimes we enter into seasons where the awe of God subsides, we lose that fire within us to fight for the visions and dreams He has instilled within us, prayers become half-hearted or stop all together, so we walk in contentment. Because “If I don’t feel it, why pray about it?”
It is in these seasons of contentment that it becomes easier to stop fighting.
We are human, so if we feel we are not getting “enough affirmation” from the Lord, we stop trying to fight as hard. “Because if He’s not working, why should I?”
Sometimes we might not feel like praying. We might not feel like working towards that dream to bring God’s glory. We might not want to fight anymore and just throw in the towel.
But it is not about how we feel – it is about obedience.
Out of obedience, we need to continue sharpening our ax, preparing our feet with readiness for the battles and glory ahead, so that we can develop the discipline to fight the spiritual battles when the devil wages war against us.
Out of obedience, we need to praise His glorious name for the works He is doing that we can see and the works we cannot.
I’ll never forget the first time women spoke praise into MY life that made me feel so good, I couldn’t believe I had withheld that goodness from others.
And it is the same for the Lord. When we remind ourselves of God’s goodness, He reminds us why we are fighting. His praises don’t need to be because something happened, they just need to be.
As I mentioned earlier, my younger-newly-remade-Christian-self sang God’s praises left and right. EVERYTHING was a blessing. And the fact of the matter is, that has not changed! Everything STILL IS a blessing. I have just chosen to forget.
So even in the midst of contentment, or maybe “not feeling like it,” we must sing His praises. It’s been a while but I used to play The Thankful Game. Filling my mind and the air with the Lord’s praises. Because we so often forget all He’s done and where we have come from. And if we remembered those things, how much more exciting would our prayer life get again!
In the parable of the servants left behind by their master, Jesus calls us to “Be on guard! Be alert! If he [the master] comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.” We never know how close we are to the promised land until it hits us in the face.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’
We do not know when Jesus is returning and we do not know when the gifts will be given that the Lord has promised. But just as Jesus called His disciples not to fall asleep during His final hours in Gethsemane, He calls us not to fall asleep in the final hours of training before the promise is given. Now “final hours” could mean days, weeks, months, or years in the Lord’s timing, but we must have feet fitted with readiness for the day when the “final hours” means tomorrow.
The Lord wants to use you, are you ready to fight for His glory? If your promise and gifts were to be given to you tomorrow, would you be ready to bear them?
Warriors Train with Weapons of Praise – Sing His praises and declare thanks for what He is doing now and how He is preparing what’s to come.
Check out this worship song from Hillsong United about praising Him, even when it hurts.