How do you pray? Do you find it easier to pray when you are in serious trouble? Does a deep sense of urgency fill your prayers with passion and faith? If your sense of need motivates you to pray fervently, then you are a lot like me.
The year was 1990; it was clearly one of the most difficult years of my life. One of two times in my life when I lost my job, the house that was attached to it, and my health in the course of a week. Furthermore, I was struggling spiritually. On one particular day, I began with prayer and felt a faith come over me like few times in my life. It was as if I was given a gift to know that all things were going to work out, and there was no need whatsoever to worry.
On that day I came to Psalm 20. It begins with the words, “May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!” Without considering the meaning of those words as God meant them, I was given great comfort to think that God desired to answer me in the day of my trouble.
Just then the phone rang, it actually rang back then, and it was my father on the other end. He called me intermittently as in those days we use to incur long distance charges. Never in my life before or since that day did my father call me in the morning. My father was an introverted man; there was no doubt in my mind that he had a great love for me, but he was not one to verbalize it.
“Dad is something wrong”, I said. “No, I just wanted to tell you, I love you.” Even now, I have to hold the tears back as I consider those words coming from his mouth. Not because I ever doubted his love, but because I am so sure of it. He never said them to me before or after, till the day of his death. It was as though God desired to comfort me in an hour of trouble, and He wanted me to hear the words spoken.
Better, however, than a spoken word from my earthly dad was a promise from Scripture. In His providence, He provided a Psalm on that day that could assure me so perfectly of His protection and love. Psalm 20 is a prayer when king David went to war.
The only way we can learn some things is through experience. We can read all we want about marriage but no when ever understands the full experience until you have to live it out day by day. So it is with spiritual warfare. The Bible has a great deal to say about the war that all of God’s children are thrown into after becoming a Christian.
Nevertheless, the leap of reading the words about the devil and acting upon them as though the spiritual world that cannot be seen were real is most definitely a leap of faith. The victory is the Lord’s and the faith that we must exercise is in our identification with Him. For this reason the most repeated word in chapter one of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the word “in”. We are said to be in Christ and by identifying with Him
by faith we can have victory over all the lies He tells to separate us from the hope that is in Jesus.
Therefore, we are told in Psalm 20 and verse 5, “We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.” The victory is king David’s in the Psalm but the greater king is the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the name of our God we set up our banners. The first mention of a banner is in Exodus 17, when Israel went to war with Amalek. When Moses prayed the people succeeded; when the people saw the banner, they understood that Moses was interceding for them. It was their faith in Moses that gave them the victory.
So it is in the life of the Christian. The banner for Moses was a staff. In times of war in ancient days it was a long pole, upon which was shiny metal objects, which made it easy for the people to see. In the life of the Christian is a banner of love. “He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4) “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2