Do you have trouble visualizing how to use the Word in prayer like you would use a sword in battle? Let's learn first how to pray Scripture. Then we will look at how much that is like working with a sword in warfare.
Many Christians dutifully open their Bible, read a few verses and smile if they understand what they read. They close the Bible and fold their hands, and beg God for help. Suddenly they feel ashamed for being such a helpless beggar, and they quit and go on their way. I'm not surprised when I hear they are not taking time for devotions any more, and when they slip back into sinful ways.
"There is an insepable union betwen the Spirit, the Word and prayer, which indicates that the Spirit will always lead the saint to make much of the Word, and especially God's promises in the Word.... This explains the fact that th the great prayers have always been great students of the Word." - J.O. Sanders in "Prayer Power Unlmited" quoting H. W. Frost.
That is so true! If you hope to pray powerfully, you will have to learn to devour God's Word as if it were your favourite food. When you learn to understand and love God, and see how He invites and trains us to pray, quoting His own words and promises back to Him, you will start to sense power in praying. More and more you will learn to use the Word in prayer.
This is a many splendored jewel, so let's look briefly at just five facets or sides of this wonderful kind of praying;
1. Obey the Word. In John 15 we learn about abiding in Christ and letting His Word abide in us. That means jumping in with both feet and getting saturated - or full of God's Word. We show it by obeying it. That will give the Word a chance to ooze out of you too, and it will affect all you do. Most especially your praying!
Maybe at first we look for the commands to pray, and about praying. Then we come to places like ... God says, "Just ask Me - see if I don't fill your mouth with good things!" God is not reluctant to answer our prayers; we don't have to twist His arm, but God does want us to come on the terms He has spelled out in His Word. Next we'll discover verses that show that He enables us to pray. Even when we don't know just how to pray, if we are satuated with His Word and love Him devotedly, when we have longings for God to act, we can expect His Spirit to start praying through us!
2. Claim the Word. The more we get into the Word, and learn to understand and love it, the more we will see that the promises are for us to claim by faith and to pray back to the Father-heart of our God.
3. Quote the Word. See how claiming the promises leads you to quoting and including the Word in your prayers? If you keep your Bible open as you pray including it will come more naturally.
4. Listen to the Word. Keep your spiritual ear open to hear what God might be saying to you. You may sense that God is speaking those words very specifically into your life. Learn to be quiet. Just listen for what God may be trying to say to you through His Word.
One caution though. If you spend all your time reading and praying alone, there is some danger that an evil spirit may come whisper a false doctrine or wrong counsel to you. Therefore, it is extremely important that you also spend some of your time with a good Bible-based church, so the other believers, some of whom have more training and experience than you in God's Word, may give you correction if they sense you are "hearing God" in a way that is not consistent with His character and other parts of the Bible.
5. Wield the Word. Our prayers should be addressed to God, but it is also Scriptural to address Satan, as Jesus did, by quoting God's Word to him in a way that resists him, and affirms that we agree with God's Word. We have made our choice, we will not be swayed by his tempations! This is where prayer most resembles slashing at an enemy with a sword. We know that Satan is a spirit being, and so we cannot kill him, but we can - by faith - claim the finished work of Christ on the cross, and His bodily resurrection as the already completed victory over Satan. It is just a matter of time until he ends up in the place prepared for him and his demons.
You don't have to have a Samson phsyic, nor a mighty preaching voice like Peter to use the Word of God like a sword. You just need to abide in the Word, claim the Word, quote the Word, listening to the Word, and wield it carefully in prayer - when you know what applies to Satan, and when it is time to remind him of Christ's victory over him.
How is that like wielding a sword? When quoting appropriate Bible verses, God's truth - to counter Satan's lies, you are plunging the sword of truth into evil spirit. You score! If that convinces yourself and others to believe God's truth, more success for God's Great Sword of Truth!
"Prayer without the control of Scripture leads to fanaticism."
Wentworth Pike (in Principles of Effective Prayer, page 123)
We will go into more detail on these aspects in the coming articles.