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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Spiritual Warfare!

Today is the National Day of Prayer for the Police Services and this morning, along with a few others, I participated in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Communion/Eucharist) in the High Kirk of Glasgow - commonly referred to as Glasgow Cathedral.  After the celebration of the Sacrament, some of us went downstairs to one of the small chapels where, as a group with a particular interest in the Police, we spent some time in prayer for our colleagues both within Strathclyde Police, and in other Forces throughout the United Kingdom.

As we chatted together, afterwards, I noticed that the particular chapel in which we had met, was dedicated to Bishop Robert Wishart.   This particular clergyman was a supporter of Robert the Bruce and, indeed, it is said that he supplied the robes - from his own wardrobe - in which the Bruce was crowned King of Scots, at Scone, in 1306.  His active participation in the Wars of Independence (from the English! - nothing changes!!!) by, for example, taking personal charge of the assault on Cupar Castle, in Fife, 'like a man of war', gave rise to the nickname that is displayed in the chapel: "The Battling Bishop"!

How appropriate, I thought to myself, for a place of prayer.  To so many, prayer is little more than a series of vocalised platitudes, and requests, made to a God with Whom they have no vital relationship.  Yet this is not the picture that we find in the pages of God's written Word!  Prayer can be exhausting.  Jesus, we read, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed with such passion "... that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood." (Luke 22:44; NLT).  Read the prayer of Daniel, in Daniel 9:4-19 - and imagine (if you can!) that godly man speaking those words to his God in calm, impassionate, tones!  James assures us that the great prophet, Elijah, "... prayed earnestly/fervently/passionately ..." (5:17).

Someone had said that much of our prayer has no power in it because there is no heart in it. If we put so little heart into prayer, then the legitimate question arises: "How can we expect God to put much heart into answering?"

We don't need to go into a physical battle, like Robert Wishart.  We can all be "Battling Bishops" (or, at least, battling disciples!) in prayer - Prayer Warriors, as used to be said.  Rather than offering up some casual, "God save everybody, and bless all the missionaries; Amen" kind of prayer, we need to pray specifically. We need to pray fervently. We need to pray continually (I Thess.5:17).  Pray with energy. Put your heart into it. That is what really matters.

Spiritual warfare, whatever else it involves, certainly involves passionate praying!

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