There was a lot of cheering going on in our household this weekend. The Arkansas Razorbacks won the iconic Southwest Classic game against Texas A & M Aggies after nine years of meeting each other on the field. And the Dallas Cowboys won against their rivals Philadelphia Eagles. I realize this might not please everyone, but we were encouraged by both teams’ victories. This year could be a fun season of football (at last).
Encouragement is always needed, whether you are a football team, soccer mom, or a “working from home” Dad. Paul, from the Bible, wrote a letter to the believers in Ephesus to encourage them. When you read this letter to the Ephesians, you will see that the first three chapters speak to the identity and status given to believers. First, he tells us in Chapter 1:4, “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us IN Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” That’s encouraging, isn’t it? Then 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship (Masterpiece) created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared IN advance for us to do.” But wait, there’s more! Chapter 2:18, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Paul ends these first three chapters with a prayer for the Ephesians.
In the fourth chapter, there is a tone change. The Apostle Paul shifts to talking about the responsibility of the believers and how they should act. Paul tells the believers to be unified and act accordingly. They are to be humble, gentle, and patient with each other. They are to speak the truth in love, being clear, calm, and with grace.
Paul ends this letter with the last two chapters speaking of relationships and relying on prayer. He even gives us details about the Armor we have access to use for the spiritual battlefield. And we are to use them to remain strong in the Lord and how to fight against the enemy’s schemes. The purpose of the Armor is that the enemy will do absolutely anything to get control of our minds and influence us in such a way that victory never seems possible, and discouragement becomes our constant companion.
The difference between football teams in a battle for victory and Christians in the battle of life for victory is we have already won the game. Jesus defeated death. First John 4:4 tells us, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Mic-Drop!
So, what is the key as a believer for victory? What is the winning play, what is the guaranteed route to run? Prayer! Sounds simple? It isn’t a secret. We have access to the Creator of the world, in reality, the Creator of the world lives in us, we just tend not to embrace that truth. That truth we can talk about another day. But I am guessing the Razorbacks and the Cowboys didn’t ask their opponents after they won the game if they wanted to play again. No, they claimed victory. And that is what Paul is encouraging the Ephesians, and we as believers, are to do.
Paul ends the letter by telling them to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
When prayer becomes more than your reaction to a crisis and becomes what you rely on daily, then the game will change for you. It’s ok to pray and ask God to help you pray more, to pray often, to pray more than you plan. Prayer makes victory in the game of life possible.
Lord, we know you hear our prayers, and we are thankful. But Father, will you put on the forefront of our minds to go to you in prayer before we do anything, or say anything. Father, help us to pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances. To look to you for your strength and seek your face always. Thank you for your Holy Spirit within us to have access to You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.