Standing in the Gap Through Prayer

Dr. James GrassiBy Dr. James Grassi9 Minutes

Excerpt taken from The Watchman: A Clarion Call for Men to Stand in the Gap by Jim Grassi


Chapter 8
Standing in the Gap through Prayer

“Keep watching and praying, so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
– Matthew 26:41

As I write this, we have just passed another anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On that day, 2,403 Americans were killed, four US battleships were sunk and others damaged, and 188 aircraft were destroyed and many others damaged. One of the greatest factors that led to our surprise over the attack was a failure to get an urgent communication to Pearl Harbor that an attack might be imminent.

One of the most strategic elements of any war or battle is communication. Take the enemy’s communication lines down, and they lose the ability to coordinate and mobilize his army. Prayer is our communication line with the Lord.

Consider another infamous day that we previously mentioned in another chapter. It is worth revisiting for this illustration. The night on which our Lord was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, what were the disciples doing? Jesus knew very well what was about to happen, but His disciples were clueless despite His attempts to warn them.

So, on this night Jesus and His disciples retreated to Gethsemane, Jesus said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). But as Jesus prayed fervently, His disciples did not watch but kept falling asleep. Three times Jesus got up and went back to his disciples saying, ” So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Verses 40-41).

The Lord repeatedly warns us: ” Watch out that no one deceives you;” and “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:4, 42). And in the passage on spiritual armor, Paul exhorts us to “… pray at all time in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). The concept of watchfulness is strategically tied with prayer in Scripture.

What is Prayer?
Prayer is a special communication system with God Almighty. Through prayer, we can go to God and share our dreams, concerns, fears, ambitions, requests, and praise (Philippians 4:6). As a foghorn helps direct a lost fisherman or sailor back to port, so an active prayer life gives guidance and vision to help us through the fog of life. So important was prayer to Christ that He often withdrew from the crowds for the sole purpose of praying (Luke 5:16).

In his book, How to Pray, E. Stanley Jones tell us that “Prayer is not only the refuge of the weak; it is the reinforcement of the strong.” Jones goes on to suggest that “Prayer is not bending God to my will, but it is a bringing of my will into conformity with God’s will, so that His will may work in and through me. Prayer is not bending the universe to your will, making God a cosmic bellhop for your purposes, but prayer is cooperating with the purposes of God to do things you never dreamed you could do.”

During Jesus’ ministry, He was praying one time and “when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray'” (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded by giving them an example of how they might pray, a prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Here is that prayer as recorded by Matthew:

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.'”
(Matthew 6:9–13)

Notice how short this prayer is. And it is directed to “our Father in heaven.” This is very personal. You are His child, and He is your father. This short prayer contains elements of praise, worship, dependence, requests, confession, submission to His will, and intent to obey.

I am convinced that prayer is so simple, even a child can pray effectively. But our enemy, the evil one, has so confused men about prayer that many men complicate it or feel totally inept at praying. Being transparent, I confess to you that I too struggled with prayer as a young man. If you are also among us who have struggled with prayer, you’re in good company!

When Jesus gave His disciples (and us) this prayer, He literally said, “Pray like this,” and not “pray these words.” Of course, it’s totally okay to pray The Lord’s Prayer, but ultimately Jesus gave his prayer as a model or example of how to pray. God’s Word is full of other great prayers that we can pray or borrow from and integrate into our own prayers. Many of the Psalms are prayers. Consider the following examples:

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” (Psalm 8:1)

“You will make known to me the way of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)

“I have called upon You, for You will answer me, God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.” (Psalm 17:6)

“Also keep Your servant back from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be innocent, And I will be blameless of great wrongdoing. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:12–14)

“How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have performed for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of mankind!” (Psalm 31:19)

” Whom do I have in heaven but You? And with You, I desire nothing on earth.” (Psalm 73:25)

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