Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl
"With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit." Ephesians 6:18
When Dana and I met for the first time with her oncologist, we were already overwhelmed by the endless series of sights, sounds, smells, and the incomprehensible new list vocabulary words we were trying to learn. Hearing them spoken was just the first step to understanding their meaning. Some remain a moving target even to this day. Remission is one of my least favorite words. It doesn't mean much. It does not mean what it sounds like. It is more of an intermission in the fight rather than an end to it. But that is another story.
When the good doctor sat us down to review our options, we were looking for a battle plan to start our fight against the enemy. We had heard well meaning platitudes, received alot of pats on the back, and shed a huge amount of tears. We had felt like victims long enough, now we were ready to hit back, and we needed a way to do it that would end in victory.
As Dr. Olivares spoke, I heard him say that the enemy we faced was a relentless and evil foe. He was a seasoned veteran of the war with cancer, and had just recently walked his own wife through her fight with it. What he shared with us had the ring of authenticity of a person who had been on the front lines of the fight, and was fresh from the battle. His heart as well as his head was in the game, and we could sense that he was interested in giving us help and hope.
As we drove home from our first visit to her oncologist, Dana and I discussed what we each had heard. I described to her my own take on what he had said. The mental image that came to my mind was that of the five fingers of a hand that could be made into a fist to hit back at the enemy with everything we had. When the doctor mentioned prayer, I saw it as the thumb of this hand.
A thumb is essential in making a fist. Without this small, inconspicuous, and seemingly insignificant part of the body, the hand is relatively impotent. It can still wave, gesture, or slap at the enemy, but it does not strike fear or wield instruments of warfare that require a firm grip. Without the thumb a person literally loses their grip on life. I told Dana that I saw prayer as the thumb of the hand that would enable us to get a grip on the weapons of our warfare, and make a fist that could hit back at the enemy.
"With all prayer" is a reminder that fighting the enemy without prayer is a foolish strategy. Standing in the battle line, unwilling or unable to make a fist that can get a grip on the weapons of warfare is not bravery. It is a fool's errand. The enemy knows this. That is why prayerless people do not constitute a threat to the enemy's mission. They are pleased when the ranks of churches are filled with them. They can be turned into a retreating mob that turns on its leaders and tramples everyone around them to escape the slightest threat to their comfort.
"Petition" is an encouragement to bring what we need the most to the only one who can provide it for us. Prayer is not about getting what we want as much as it is calling out to God for what we need. Even Jesus prayed that God would let the cup of his greatest test pass Him by. The longer He prayed in the garden, the less He wanted His own way, and the more God's will for His life took over. That is called being "honest to God." Petitions are not an offense to God. Prayerlessness is. Prayer is the air a warrior breathes, and it gives him a perspective that cannot be obtained in any other climate. God's will may be known, but it is never accepted without prayer. It softens a hardened heart to receive what it needs, even while it asks what it wants.
"Pray at all times" is an invitation to call for reinforcements. Dana and I have been brought to our knees many times since we heard the words, "It's cancer." This has been the way God has brought us to the end of ourselves, and brought us to the sufficiency of Christ. When we were dating, Dana told me that her life verse was, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) We have had this scripture carved into a beautiful plaque and prominently displayed on the wall of our home,throughout our marriage. That does not impress the enemy at all. Living it is what strikes fear into the heart of the enemy. We have learned to pray at all times in order to get a better grip on the hand of Jesus when the enemy intimidates us. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the truth of God's word is required to get a real grip on it. When God's word says that He will never leave us or forsake us, prayer enables me to put my hand in His at any time the enemy attacks me with doubt. I have learned to pray as David did when the enemy seized hold of him, "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid." (Psalms 56:11)
"Pray in the Spirit" describes the character of Christ. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control." (Galatians 5:22-23) The character of Christ purifies our motives as we pray. Praying in the Spirit is not an out of body experience that raises us above the flames and the fumes of the fight. It describes a struggle with the flesh that has been won in the life of the warrior before he takes the fight to the enemy. Again, Jesus is our prototype for prayer. He came to the point of yielding His will to God's will. Praying in the Spirit of Christ means coming as quickly as possible to the crossroads of the will, and turning our backs on "MY" and choosing to travel down the road to "THY."
Men have a tendency to believe they are large and in charge, or to at least pose as if they are. They are accustomed to having people lean on them to provide what they need. They get a great deal of their sense of purpose from the work they do, or the title they hold. Breast cancer has a way of emasculating a man. It moves him from the firing line to the sideline. It reveals his impotency to do anything to help the one he loves the most. He cannot take her place, shield her from the pain, or deliver her from the attack of cancer or the consequences of the cure. It is hard for a man to admit he is afraid, and even harder to admit that he needs help. Teaching men how to fight like a girl involves showing them that they will never stand taller in the eyes of his wife than when he is on his knees praying for her. A prayerless man may be able to slap, gesture or wave at the enemy, but he will never be able to make a fist without taking personal, believing prayer seriously. When a child is afraid, they will slip their hand into the hand of their parent for protection and assurance. When men pray they get a grip on the hand of God, and begin to sense the Presence of Jesus. Praying in the Spirit means that Jesus is not limited by time and space. The enemy cannot be everywhere at once, but Jesus can be. He offers Himself to us through means of believing prayer.
Prayer enables a warrior to get a grip on the hand of God n the middle of the battle. When the enemy sees a man praying he knows that he has lost his advantage. Enemy attacks are meant to convince a person that they are a victim. Prayer provides the means for warriors to know their victory is in Christ. When we get a grip on Jesus, there is nothing that the enemy can do to rob us of God's best for us.