Where Battles Are Won

“Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged.”

Luke 18: 1 (Common English Bible)

Here is a specific teaching of our Lord to be used against the assault of circumstances and battles of life: continuous prayer. Jesus teaches that prayer is the predominant means available to access the power of God and to experience God’s grace. The practice of prayer was a constant in Jesus’ life and ministry. After exhausting himself teaching and healing people, Jesus withdrew to a deserted place for prayer. Before calling together the twelve who would be his disciples, Jesus prayed all night. When faced with five thousand hungry people, Jesus took five loaves and two fish and prayed for a miracle. Once everyone had eaten, the disciples filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. And on the night of his arrest, the night that preceded his crucifixion, Jesus prayed. Jesus urges others to do what he was always doing.

What is it that we do when we pray? Simply, we bring our spiritual enemies, our battles that must be fought, into the presence of God. The enemies remain and the battles must still be fought. But we face the enemy and fight the battle in God’s presence. It is God that changes the equation. As a child, one of my favorite television shows was The Equalizer. The premise of the show is that someone—someone who is being unfairly victimized—finds that the odds are stacked against them. The battle was uneven. There simply was no possible route to face the battle, the enemy, and win. Then, through an introduction with a person with uncommon ability—the equalizer—the game is changed. The battle moves from hopelessness to certain victory. What is changed is that the battle is brought into the presence of considerable power.

There are people who seek to face an enemy or fight a battle on their own. There is an admirable grit that drives them. The desire of self-sufficiency occupies every cell of their being. One can hear the faint voice of a child, “I do it!” Unfortunately, many are sadly beaten. Bruised and broken, a reassessment of the enemy or battle is considered, strategy is modified, and they engage once again—alone. Present is a reluctance to accept the intention of God that we never face life alone. We are rarely strong enough for life’s enemies or the battles that must be fought. Jesus’ invitation in this teaching from Luke’s Gospel is that we take the battle into God’s presence and engage there. Life’s critical battles are lost or won by the decision we make. We are conquerors when the battle ground is prayer.

Another dynamic is also discovered when we bring our enemies and battles before God, they lose their stature. Frequently, the enemy appears as large as a shadow that is cast from a light on a dark sidewalk. From one place, the shadow is considerably larger than we are. Such a shadow can have a terrifying impact. It is all out of proportion with the image that has been caught by the light. The result is that we feel diminished. Yet, move along the same sidewalk, and the shadow changes. It may increase but keep moving. Eventually what is seen is that the shadow begins to decrease. This is the experience we have when we bring our battles before God. We bring them to a holy place where they are right-sized; the threat is shrunk. That is because we have brought them to a much larger place. That is where battles are won.


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