"All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast." Proverbs 15:15
My father, Don Miller, has had more influence on me than any other man I know. He is an 87 year old prayer warrior/preacher/pastor and planter of churches. He has logged his share of time in multiple pastorates, operating rooms, and deacon's meetings and still has one of the most cheerful outlook on life that lets him live more like a victor than a victim. His personal triumph over adversity and affliction of the enemy has been achieved through the use of prayer as the world class weapon in the battle against evil.
Dad has introduced me to many great quotes over the years, almost all of them have to do with prayer. Go figure. One of my favorites is the statement made by Samuel Chadwick, " The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying, He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom but trembles when we pray." I have read everything I can get my hands on written by Chadwick. He was known as the "Wesley of the 20th Century" in the early years of the 1900's. He became a mentor to Leonard Ravenhill who came to the United States and had a prolonged and profound influence on many American preachers later in that century.
The Armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:10-18 should be a clear reminder that life is going to have conflict. Therefore the armored ones may expect to be afflicted. The armor will not end the conflict. Only victory ends the conflict with the enemy. Ephesians warns us that the real enemy is not the one we can see, but the "world forces of this darkness." The armor is described as being defensive in nature, except for the sword which is described as the Word of God.
Did I mention Dad prays and reads his Bible alot. All day long to be exact. His heart is overflowing with the promises of God no matter what the enemy throws his way. When you squeeze a lemon you get lemonade. When you squeeze a lime you get limeade. When you squeeze a Christian you get "whine. " In other words, everything that is God-made delivers what God has put on the inside. With Christians you don't always get what is on the label. I have had a front row seat to the crises of life that have hit my Dad for close to 60 years. The one common theme that runs through the river of my childhood memories and flows into the rough seas of adulthood is this: when Dad gets pressured Jesus comes out.
To have the fruit there must be the root. Being rooted and grounded in the unchanging Word of God and filled with the interceding Presence of Jesus is the key to having victory over affliction.
Remember Ephesians? The position of victory is "stand." When the enemy smells fear in the air as a result of the "whining" of God's people, he senses that he is close to winning a victory over them. Prayer strikes fear into his heart.
On the other hand, prayer strengthens the heart of the person who is being afflicted. When the enemy delivers an attack, rather than planning a funeral they start planning a victory party. How can they do that? They refuse to be a victim, and stand, and deliver what the enemy fears most...powerful, confident prayers calling on God to take the field against their enemy. Praying for strength in the middle of a fight as E.P. Hovey said is "No lullaby for the faint-hearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living." Hovey,born in 1908, was a Presbyterian minister in Idaho in the early 20th Century. He was one of the most quotable unknown preachers America has ever produced. He is another one of my heroes.
It is Sunday morning, and we all need to go to church. Let me close by saying that the Word of God clearly states that life has affliction. The cheerful person will fill his heart with the promises of God and fire back in prayer when he is under attack. Save me a place at the victory banquet.