Series Title: "Pray Then, Like This ..."
Jesus teaches us to pray and confront both the evil one and the evil within us. How do we confront them? The same way he did. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:7-8). If you submit to the Lord and humble yourself (put yourselves down before him), he will lift you up.
Interestingly, Jesus concludes the prayer he gave us with lead us not and deliver us from. (Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory was taken from David's prayer in 1 Chron. 29 and added to later manuscripts.) Yet so often Satan and sin come first on the preaching agenda. So why did Jesus end his prayer this way?
Because if you seek God first as your Father by practicing his presence, focusing your mind on his identity and love, and spending time being preoccupied with his Word; if you pray earnestly to sanctify his name by all you do; if your deepest desire is for his kingship to be established and his will to be done in your life. Then he is going to provide you sufficiency for each day, he is going to forgive you as you forgive others, he is going to protect you from your inclination to fall victim to temptation, and he will deliver you from the evil one.
Our minds are the main battlefield for the Adversary. His weaponry is the power of lies. Our strength to overcome temptation and evil is God's gift of his Spirit.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:14-15).
That is how to conquer the inclination towards evil within you. It is by transforming your whole being through renewing your mind—being penetrated by the Word of God animated by the Spirit. Remember, the Spirit filled and then compelled Jesus into the wilderness to face the evil one. It was the Spirit that empowered his earthly ministry. It is the Spirit that continues his saving work in and through us.
And that same Spirit leads us into truth and sends Satan fleeing because he cannot stand the truth. He is the father of lies. That is why praise has such power. To praise is to declare and confess truths about who God is, and what he has done. Those truths come from God's Word. That is why study is a higher form of worship when it leads to obedience – because you focus on and embody the truth.
I suggest to you that most of us Christians are far more in need of spiritual discipline than spiritual deliverance.
Do not misunderstand me, deliverance is a vital part of Jesus’ ministry, both here and now, and there is a place for it. But most of us as Christians get into the need for deliverance because of a lack of discipline.
What we need far more than sermons railing against the devil, is sermons instructing us in applying the Word of God to our lives. Make no mistake, Satan’s goal is to keep people under his reign and recapture those who've been liberated. So when we pray, May your kingship be established, may your will be done, we oppose and resist him.
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me (Psalm 119:133). Here is the principle King David shares, the Lord can and will correct and direct you according to his word. Submit first to God, then you can resist the devil and he will flee from you. If you let the Lord direct your steps according to his word, then no iniquity (the inward bent away from God) will rule over you.
This psalm is found in the Dead Sea scrolls with a slight change. There it says, let not an unclean spirit rule over me. In some respects, it is two sides of the same thing. For the Essenes at Qumran who prayed Psalm 119, saying let not an unclean spirit rule over me is equivalent to saying let no iniquity rule over me. The way to do that is to let the Lord direct you according to his Word.
How then, in the light of all this, shall we live?
1) We need to be better taught. We need the discipline of getting into God’s Word and standing upon the great truths it teaches us. From where I sit, Satan does not have to oppose most churches, he just has to join them. Let it not be so here.
2) You must recognize and take responsibility for your susceptibility to temptation and propensity to selfishness and self-indulgence. Confront it, confess it, and crucify it in Messiah Jesus, our King. Satan accomplishes his purposes by quickening the evil within you: getting you to speak slander, getting you to be critical and unforgiving, getting you to be consumed with your accomplishments, attached to your wealth, lusting after the pride of life and fleshly desires.
3) We must cultivate an attitude of recognizing and repenting, turning from evil to our good Father. In Jewish tradition, there is only one day a year in which Satan (the one who opposes the things of God) is totally impotent. On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). I see great wisdom in that understanding.
If you and I are walking in the power of Christ’s blood applied—in the full efficacy of his atonement—then Satan is rendered powerless.
4) We must be characterized by rejoicing. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Phil 4:4). God is enthroned in the praises of his people. Why? Because when we praise—when we engage in confession and declaration (read more about the Hebraic understanding of praise here)—the evil one doesn’t hang around. God's truth is a fire that burns in us and it burns him, it defeats him. God’s Word prevails.
I have offered up these meditations to you in hopes you will mature in your thinking, speaking, and acting. That your life will more fully align with the prayer Jesus gave us. That you will not miss out on any of the good works he has prepared for you to walk in. That the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus will be glorified in all we do. To that end, will you pray with me,
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be sanctified.
May your kingship be established,
may your will be done in heaven and earth.
Grant us our sustaining needs this day,
and forgive us our offenses, for we have forgiven those who have offended us.
Lead us not into the grasp of the evil inclination, but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever!
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.