When you understand how to develop a prayer strategy you’ll be able to pray powerful and effective prayers no matter the circumstance.
Today I’m sharing how to craft and create strategic prayers that are going to help you be more effective when facing hard times. The first thing to understand when it comes to strategically engaging the enemy in prayer is that there is a difference between your regular everyday prayers and waging war against the enemy.
Both are important. You need to spend consistent and regular time talking to God and listening to what he wants to speak to your heart. You also need to be able to go to war against the enemy when the attacks come.
Think of it as the difference between the Lord’s prayer and putting on the armor of God. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives the disciples (and you) a structure for how to pray. He gives a formula that you can follow in your everyday conversations with him.
When you look into the armor of God, Paul talks about engaging in spiritual warfare. When I say strategically engage the enemy or wage war against the enemy through prayer, I am talking about what Paul teaches in the armor of God passage. Let’s turn to that passage of scripture right now.
Ephesians 6 is like a playbook for spiritual warfare. Paul is under heavy guard and uses this image of a Roman soldier to explain to his audience what it looks like and what it takes to fight the spiritual attacks that are coming for believers. We are going to zoom in on Ephesians 6:14-18 because I want to focus on the different pieces of the armor.
“Therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication.”
Here Paul outlines the six pieces of the armor of God. You’ve got the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, and a shield. You’ve also got your helmet and sword, and all of that is tied together through continual prayer and supplication before the Lord.
Here’s a distinction that I want to point out to you that you may or may not have noticed. When you look at these pieces of armor, they’re split in two. The first three are things that as a believer you should always have on. The other three are the items that you pick up when you need them.
You should always be wearing your belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and your shoes of peace. You should be involved in community, fellowship, and spreading the gospel message to people who don’t know the Lord. These are things you should be doing as a Christian.
When you go into battle, there are things that you need that you don’t necessarily have on you at all times. You don’t always have your shield up, your helmet on, or your sword out because they’re big, clunky, heavy, and meant for a specific purpose.
Paul says, in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, and take up your helmet and the sword. Using the word take there indicates that you don’t already have it on. He’s saying that there are going to be times when you’ve got to pick up some extra tools because you are dealing with an attack from the enemy.
It’s like an enemy shooting flaming arrows at you meant to wound you, stop you, and take you out. The way to protect yourself from that is by holding up your shield of faith: what you know and believe about the Lord, what he has promised, and what he will do for you as his child.
You have to put on your helmet which speaks to your identity and authority in Christ. As a child of God, you have access to gifts and direct access to the Lord that people that do not believe, don’t have. Remember that and tap into that in times of spiritual warfare. Next, you need to pick up your weapon.
You need your sword, which is scripture, to fight. Hold up your shield, protect your head with your helmet, and have your sword out. Now you are ready to engage the enemy because you are properly dressed and ready for war.
Practically speaking, what does this look like? I want to give you three steps that you can do when you are trying to be strategic with your prayers and when you’re facing a crisis or an attack of some kind.
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How to Develop a Prayer Strategy Step 1: What is the Attack?
Step one is to recognize what the attack is. Sometimes when you’re walking through something hard, you think you know what the actual problem is but you’re wrong. It’s truly something else. If you get deeper to the root, the heart of the matter, it’s not what you originally thought it was.
For example, a while ago, my boys were at each other’s throats. They were constantly arguing, bickering, physically fighting, hurting each other, and yelling unkind words. As a mama, I am watching their behavior and thinking this is a really bad case of sibling rivalry. They’re being unkind. They’re not treating each other with love and respect.
I wanted to go in and solve the sibling rivalry. I wanted to fix the argument and talk to them about using their words kindly. But in a time of prayer, the Lord revealed to me that yes, there was sibling rivalry and unkind words and a lack of respect, but that was just at the surface and that was not the true attack.
What was going on was that the enemy was trying to drive a wedge between my boys. He was trying to sever the relationship and the love that they have for each other to divide and conquer so that they didn’t have that support and that encouragement and they would be easier to attack individually.
Had I not taken the time to seek the Lord and listen to what he wanted to say, I would have been praying the wrong prayers and fighting the wrong battle. There’s nothing worse than fighting so hard against the wrong thing. You will wear yourself out and start to think that your prayers don’t work or God isn’t listening.
The truth is that you simply misunderstood what the actual attack was. You’ve got to take time to seek God and understand what the true attack is because it’s not always the first thing that you see. In the beginning of Ephesians 6 Paul says that the weapons of warfare are not carnal. You are fighting spiritual things in the heavenly realms.
How to Develop a Prayer Strategy Step 2: Dig into Scripture
So that leads us to step two. Once you have identified or recognized what the actual attack is, it’s time to dig deep into scripture. Pick up your sword. You need to be immersed in the word of God to find out what he has to say about what is going on in your life, good times and bad. Especially in those hard seasons, you need to know what God says about that thing.
If you’re having a financial crisis, you need to dig into the word of God to see what he says about your finances. Are there promises about being a good steward, being faithful to give and serve, paying things on time, and getting out of debt? What are those principles that you can pull out and apply to what is going on?
The truth is what sets us free, and the truth is always found in the word of God.
How to Develop a Prayer Strategy Step 3: Use Your Weapons
The third step is to figure out what weapons you need to fight. We’ve looked at the Armor of God passage and it talks about picking up your sword, but that’s not the only weapon that you have. You don’t only fight with the word of God and through prayer, there are so many accounts in scripture of God’s people going to battle against their enemies and all kinds of weapons are used.
I can’t give you specifics about what your weapons are because everybody is different. God has made us each unique and special, and we each have special weapons that are specific to us. But there are some things that we all have like worship and praise.
Don’t discount the power of turning on some worship music and singing your heart out to God when you’re having a rough day. Giving, serving, and fellowshiping with other believers are also weapons at your disposal.
When you are in the trenches of spiritual warfare spend some time asking God what you need to do and how he wants you to fight. He will reveal that to you. When you are reading and studying your Bible and you read an account of somebody who’s gone up against the enemy, make note of what spiritual weapons God told them to use.
You can read the story of Esther and learn how prayer, fasting, and community were used to engage an enemy. You can look at the story of Moses, where they’re holding up his hands, and learn that you need to have other people in your corner. You can read the story of Gideon, where they’re breaking pots and yelling as more examples of different ways that God brings about victory for his people.
Take notes in your personal bible time and keep that list because it’ll come in handy when you are trying to figure out what weapons you have at your disposal and what God might want you to pick up and use for whatever battle you’re facing.
Examining Your Heart Before Creating a Prayer Strategy
We’ve looked at the armor of God to understand that there are certain things that you’re going to have on all the time and there are certain things that you’re going to pick up when you need them. You’ve learned the three steps to creating this strategic prayer battle plan when you’re ready to go fight against the enemy.
Now, I want you to consider a few things before you engage the enemy that will help you be more effective in the long run of the battle. The first thing is to examine your own heart. Sometimes during a battle, you aren’t hearing from God with clarity.
You will make mistakes and sometimes those choices are the reason you find yourself in your current situation. By taking regular time to examine your heart, you are going to clear out a lot of the junk that gets in between you and God. In moments of crisis, you need that direct connection to God and you don’t want sinfulness to get in the way of that.
This is why confession is so important for prayer. You just ask the Lord to create in you a clean heart. Show you what in your life is not lining up with the word of God and is not pleasing to him. Continually seek to be made clean and pure from anything that’s going on in your heart that isn’t pleasing and glorifying to God.
Staying Focused on the Right Thing When Creating a Strategic Prayer Strategy
The other thing that you want to look at is what’s getting in your way. I’ll use myself as an example. I am a recovering control freak. Whenever I found myself battling a hard thing, I would feel like I was not getting anywhere. God would often reveal to me that I was trying to do this and do that to manipulate and control the situation.
I was getting in the way or I was focused on the wrong thing. I would be so focused on my circumstances and other people and things that were not important, that I was missing the fact that I needed to keep my eyes on him.
This is where adoration comes into play. Adoration is keeping your focus on God, who he is, what he does, and what that means for you. This is important not only because it keeps your focus in its proper place, but it also helps you keep your fears, nervousness, and worries at bay.
If you are focused on God, looking at him only, you’re not going to be distracted by anything else that’s going on in your life or that the enemy is trying to throw at you. Keeping your eyes on God also plays into discernment. You need to be able to rightly discern God’s will, plan, and purpose.
You need to be able to discern the direction that God wants you to go. Nothing is more frustrating and exhausting than fighting a battle that God never intended you to fight. You are called to armor up and engage the enemy, but not all the time.
Sometimes there are fights where God just needs you to sit down, rest, and let him take care of it. You might be trying to fight a battle for somebody else that you have no business being a part of because God wants to work in their lives in some way. Learn to listen to God’s voice and seek him for guidance and direction because it’s going to keep you from hitting a lot of obstacles.
Including Gratitude in Your Prayer Strategy
The last thing that I want to share is that you need to be sure to incorporate regular gratitude into your prayers. Be thankful, even during hard times. If you can’t find anything to be thankful for in the moment, then take some time and think about all the things that God has done for you in the past.
Thank and praise him for those things, and let that encourage and reassure you that he is working right now and that will continue to work in the future because that is going to help you stay at peace. Remember, peace is not the absence of trouble.
It’s the assurance and knowing that God is there with you in the middle of the storm. If you allow your mind to only focus on the bad, only focus on what’s right in front of you, you can lose your peace by looking at the storms and the waves and the things that are going on.
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