Our church just completed a sermon series on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have been learning about the power we have in Christ to do battle in the spiritual realm. One of the weapons emphasized has been prayer. As part of this, we endeavored to pray together as a congregation for an entire week. The effort was called “Project 168”, representing the 168 hours in a week. I attended the prayer “kick off” meeting at church last week.
Our prayer times are very informal and spontaneous. We sit in a circle in the sanctuary, and people pray as they feel led by the Holy Spirit. I joined the prayer already in process when I arrived. I closed my eyes, listening quietly to the prayers being offered. I did this for several minutes, until a particular prayer got my attention.
Her voice was unfamiliar. I wondered who the woman might be, as her words gripped me. I quickly abandoned my curiosity and hung onto every word she said. It was as if her prayer was pulling me into the very presence of God. She kept using the words “anointing” and “Holy unto the Lord”. This immediately called to mind a picture of an Old Testament priest. The priest wore a gold plate on his forehead inscribed with the words “Holy unto the Lord”.
I started to visualize myself before the Lord like the priest. I was the one “Holy unto the Lord”, set apart to serve Him. I stood before the altar offering my sacrifice of prayer. I recalled the garments the priest wore. I visualized his ephod with its square breastplate, set in three rows of four precious stones. Each stone was engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. These were God’s people, the ones the priest represented before the Lord. He carried them close to his heart and brought them close to the throne of Holy God. The stones blazed brilliantly in my mind’s eye: emerald, sapphire, topaz, diamond, amethyst, onyx, jasper, etc.
My next thought pierced my mind with even brighter force. I am here before the Lord with people on my heart too. My four children came to mind. I pictured each of their faces. The ones the Lord had entrusted to my care. It is my honor to represent them before Him, to carry my little lambs close to His heart. It was right here when I realized that I was literally wearing stones to represent each of them. My Mother’s Day gift was a locket containing a birthstone for each of my children around a Cross and the word “Hope”. The locket represents the living hope I have in Christ and the inheritance we have received in Him (1 Peter 1:3-5). What a powerful picture this was of my prayers! The imagery captivated me, eclipsed only by the beauty and joy of being in the Lord’s presence. It was truly a “glory filled the temple” time of prayer.
I shared my prayer experience with a friend later in the week. She told me a story from 1 Samuel Chapter 30 about King David and the priestly ephod. David and his men had returned home from battle to discover that their wives and children had been taken captive. “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep” (1 Samuel 30:4). David was in distress because the men were talking about killing him. They blamed David for their losses, “each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters” (30:6).
“But David found strength in the Lord his God. He said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod” (30:7). David sought the Lord in prayer, and the Lord instructed him to pursue the raiding party to take back their loved ones. The Lord answered David, “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue” (30:8). David set out immediately in confident trust in the Lord. He accomplished all that the Lord promised he would. “David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken…nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back (30:18, 19).”
War is our daily reality. We need to know how to fight the spiritual battles we face. Our pastor said the devil is always looking for prisoners of war. In truth, we may return home to find that our sons and daughters have been taken captive. Like David’s men, this news brings much weeping and sapping of our strength. We must beware of the temptation to become bitter in spirit, lest we become prisoners as well. That is the devil’s work.
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9).
We clothe ourselves in the priestly garments of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation. We put on the full armor of God and take our stand in His mighty power. Prayer is the stance. We come before the altar offering continual sacrifices to the Lord our God. We wear the name “Holy unto the Lord”, declaring ourselves and those we carry as set apart for Him. We are God’s people with an eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus. We pursue the enemy in prayer, fighting in the strength of God’s promise, “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue”.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
The captives will be set free. Nothing will be missing, young or old, boy or girl. This is our spiritual inheritance in the Lord. This is our Living Hope. Setting captives free is the holy work of the royal priesthood.
“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying” (Ephesians 6:18).