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Category Archives: Prayer

Thinking Like a Soldier

Whether you know it or not, the world is a spiritual battle zone right now. Unless you have the right mentality, you could become a casualty of this war. That’s why it’s so important to know how the Bible says for us to live.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

As I’ve posted in the past, this verse is talking about the authority and power of God. The Lord wants to work this through us.

My question is; if we know we’re in the battle zone, then how should we live? The last sentence of this passage literally reads attend to this with all persistence and petition. The fact of the matter is that there’s a battle zone mentality.

The first thing we’re told is that it requires us to be alert. The Greek word there means to be sleepless. We must be awake and alert in the battle zone.

We’re told in this same chapter of Ephesians that our enemy isn’t flesh and blood. They don’t take a day off. Does that mean we don’t need to rest or take a vacation? No, but we have to stay spiritually vigilant no matter what’s happening in our lives.

“There’s not much going on in my life right now. I don’t need to pray today.”

That kind of thinking can destroy you in this battle. Look at how Jesus put it to His disciples.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

Watching – staying spiritually alert – and prayer goes together. According to Jesus, it’s so that you will not enter into a test, a time of proving.

In the battle zone, there are traps and ambushes. You must be alert. Like someone who’s walking in the middle of a minefield. At that point, you’re in the test.

Did you know that many of the tests and temptations of life can be avoided? I wonder sometimes how many of these battles are of our own making. Or maybe we’ve just walked blindly into them.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

This is how the enemy works. In the natural, it’s the oldest, weakest lion that does the roaring. The strong, young lions wait on the other side of the prey. When the prey hears the roar and runs away from it, they run right to the lions waiting for their dinner to arrive.

It’s the same with our spiritual enemy. He’s trying to get you to head into a trap. We have to keep spiritually alert at all times. That only happens as we watch and pray. It will help us to avoid many of the problems that are before us.

Stay alert!

Question: Can you think of a time that you were tested or tempted because you weren’t spiritually alert?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Rhema – The Key to Victory

In my last post, I talked about prayer in the spirit as the key to spiritual warfare.  It’s through prayer in the spirit that we receive the helmet and the sword.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

As we’ve already seen in this series, the helmet and sword speak of the authority and power of God working in us.  God wants to show His power through us in order to bring the Good News of Christ to the world.

We need to understand how our weapons work.  Specifically, I’m talking about the sword of the spirit – the rhema – Word of God.  For a detailed discussion of the word, rhema, click here.

Remember, we’re talking about the armor of God.  That means this is the sword of the Lord.  Our knowledge of this got watered down over time.  We have used this weapon less and less since the advent of the printing press.

You may not want to hear this, but the Bible is not our sword.  The sword is a spiritual weapon.  As a matter of fact, the devil doesn’t fear the Bible.  He has it memorized.  There are even times that he uses it against God’s people.

It’s the rhema – Word of God that’s our spiritual weapon.  But does that mean I don’t need the Bible?  Absolutely not!  We are to study in order to show ourselves approved to use the rhema.

Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees.

“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
John 5:46-47

Literally, the Lord said, “If you don’t believe what was written, how will you believe my rhema?”  The rhema is the revealed Word of God to me…and to you.  This is the greatest weapon of the church; God speaking to us.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34

Christ brought us the spiritual weapons that we would use to fight the enemy’s kingdom.  The Sword of the Spirit was just what we needed for victory.

Under the Old Covenant, they had no spiritual weapons.  All their battles had to be fought in the natural.  That’s why the Law of Moses had so many death penalties.  The only way to stop the spirit of adultery was to kill those who were controlled by it.

After Christ died and rose again, everything changed.  Now there’s nowhere in New Testament that tells us that God will fight the battle for us.

We now have a weapon that the enemy cannot defend against.  He can debate the Bible with you.  But a sword that pierces the spirit, he has no defense against that.

That’s why it’s so important that we understand, not only what the Word of God is, but how we use it against the enemy’s kingdom.  God wants His people to hear His voice and act on it in obedience.  That’s the key to our victory.

Question: Why is a Word from God so destructive to the enemy’s kingdom?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Equipped by Prayer in the Spirit

In my last post, we saw that we receive the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit as we pray in the spirit.  In today’s post, I want to show that this is not just a singular occurrence in Scripture.

We are in a spiritual struggle against unseen forces.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

Contrary to how some people act, our fight is not against people.  As followers of Christ, we’re not struggling against political parties, social issues, or those we see as “sinners”.  The real enemy is the spiritual kingdom that enslaves those in the world system.

We’re in this battle whether we want it or not.  So, we’re told that we need to be spiritually prepared for the struggle.  We’re given the explanation of the armor and Paul concludes in verse 18 by giving us the means by which we arm ourselves – prayer in the spirit.

However, this isn’t the only section of Scripture that talks about our warfare.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 3

Jude was one of the early leaders of the church.  He was a half-brother of Jesus who became a believer after the resurrection.

In this short letter, he explains that he simply wanted to write a brief word of encouragement.  He wanted to bless and uplift those who would receive it.

Instead, once he sat down to write, the Holy Spirit grabbed his attention and caused him to speak of the spiritual battle.  Jude felt the urgency to warn them to diligently contend for the faith.

In Ephesians, Paul was contending against demonic forces.  Jude is contending against false teachings.  But in both cases, they equipped themselves for battle the same way.

Look at Jude’s concluding remarks.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 20

It’s important to note here that the word, “and”, does not appear in the original Greek text.  It should actually be translated, build yourselves up in your most holy faith praying in the Holy Spirit.

We face battles every day.  There are many directions that the attack may come from.  It could be our flesh, the world system, or the demonic kingdom.

In all cases, we prepare for this struggle in the same way.  Both Paul and Jude talked about their battles.  They were two different people in two different struggles.  Yet they both concluded that it was prayer in the spirit that would prepare them for victory.

I don’t know how anybody could read this and say that the gift of tongues is not for today.  We can’t win the victory without it.

They try to justify it by saying that they can pray in the spirit in English – or whatever their native language is.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

Paul makes it clear that praying in tongues is praying in the spirit.  If you’re using your mind to come up with the words, you’re not praying in the spirit.

Prepare for the battles you’re about to face.  Spend some quality time praying in the spirit.

Question: How much time are you spending in prayer for 2020?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Receiving the Spiritual Weapons

Over the past weeks, I’ve been writing about spiritual warfare.  I’ve talked about it in general and then specifically about the armor of God.  In my last few posts, I’ve explained the anointing, God’s approval process in our Christian walk.

Now I want to try and bring it all together.  There are some practical things that we need to know if we’re going to walk in the power of God.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

I’ve already talked about the helmet and sword.  They’re the pieces of armor that are issued after we’re properly trained and approved.  If you remember, the word, take, actually means to receive or accept.

Now the question is; how do we receive these powerful spiritual weapons?  To answer that, we need to understand the Greek language of these verses.

First, let me say that I’m grateful for the translators who have given us the Holy Bible in the English language.  I’ve met some of them and I know that most of them are sincere in their service to Christ.  The time and dedication that they gave is a wonderful gift to the church.

That being said, there are some inherent challenges when you translate a text from one language to another.  Depending upon your experience and/or your spiritual baggage, sometimes your own thoughts can unknowingly color the translation.

This is especially true when dealing with prayer in the spirit – praying in tongues.  We know that the Apostle Paul had a very rich experience praying in the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:18).  He had an understanding of this discipline more than most believers, even in our generation.

The problem comes in when a translator who has never even experienced the gift tries to figure out what Paul is saying.  They look at the Greek words but have no understanding of how to apply them.  They then make their best guess at how to align the translation in a way that also works with their own personal experience.

On top of all that, the Greek language allows for what we would call some huge run-on sentences.  Sometimes two, or even three, English verses are actually all one sentence in the original Greek text.  In order for the passage to be more understandable to modern readers, the translators have broken them up for us.

This is the case in the above section of Scripture.  The clue to this is when you see verse 18 starting with the word, and.  That should tell you that verses 17 and 18 are actually all one sentence.

In the original text, the word translated, and, is actually the Greek word, diaDia literally means through or by means of.  That one change brings a whole new meaning to this verse.

It literally reads, “Receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God by means of prayer and requests, always praying in the Spirit.”  The apostle makes it clear that we receive these weapons through our prayer in the spirit.

I know that there are those in the body of Christ who don’t believe that this gift is still active and available.  Unfortunately, that’s the result of some translation issues that I’ve outlined above.  So, over the next few posts, I’m going to specifically write about prayer in the spirit (tongues) as it relates to spiritual warfare in Scripture.

God’s people need to be spending quality time in the spirit if we’re going to see the end-time harvest in our generation.

Question: How much time do you spend praying in the spirit?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Thanksgiving Victory

Today in the USA, it’s the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, I’m writing this post to talk about thankfulness.  In my next post, I’ll continue talking about our spiritual armor.

As believers, we need to live a life of thankfulness to God.  What most people don’t realize is that walking in thankfulness actually places you in a position of spiritual power.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

This is actually a poor translation of what the Apostle was saying.  Paul literally said we should be always giving thanks…OVER everything.  We need to understand that in the name of Christ we are over the situation.

This verse tells me that giving thanks raises me over any situation that I happen to be in right now.  We see the problems and they look so big.

It’s just like the Israelites who spied out the land.  Most of the spies only saw that there were giants living there.  They announced to Israel, “We were grasshoppers in our eyes.”

But Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, were looking through eyes of thankfulness.  They were thanking God for giving them the land.  Their attitude was, “Thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory.”

It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is.  Thankfulness puts you over it.  How does that work?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

You’re told not to worry about the situation you see before you.  Listen to the response of God’s will.  We are to go before God’s presence, then we bare our hearts before Him, and finally, we lay our needs at His feet.

Look at the outcome that’s promised to us.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

When you offer up thanksgiving in a worrisome situation, then the peace of God will begin its work in you.  This verse says that it transcends your understanding.  Do you know what that means?

The actual Greek word is Huperecho.  It literally means to hold oneself above.  So, when you present these challenging situations to God, with thanksgiving, God’s peace will hold you above all your human understanding.

This same peace of God will also be a guard, like sentries, around you.  We need to see that it’s the peace OF GOD that will hold you above the circumstance.

But it’s the giving of thanks which results in the peace of God.  Then, that peace is activated to hold you above the circumstance.

This holiday season, allow the peace of God to work in you.  Yes, thank God for all that He’s done in your life.  But don’t stop there.  If there’s anything that you’re facing that’s challenging or causing you to worry, thank God for the victory over it.

In faith, take the high ground this Thanksgiving.

Question: What future victories do you need to thank God for right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Encouraged to Grow

As Paul nears the end of his first letter to the Corinthian church, he gives a series of exhortations.  I think that we would do well to live by them.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

These five simple statements are the foundation for a growing walk with the Lord.  If we would make it a point to see these activated in our lives, we’d be a lot better off.

Be on your guard.  This literally means to stay awake.  I think that too many Christians are spiritually asleep in this generation.  What do I mean by this?

When you’re asleep, you’re unaware of what’s happening around you.  Spiritual sleep is the same.  There are Christians who are totally unaware of the spiritual aspects of their life.

They think that everything revolves around what they see in the natural.  It’s all about satisfying their wants and desires.  They never ask, “What’s God’s will for my life?”

I need to seek what God has destined me for.  Then, with His strength, I can start heading in that direction.  I want my spiritual eyes to be open.

Stand firm in the faith.  This simply means that once you know what God’s Word says, you don’t waver or move from believing it.

Believing means taking action.  If I believe something is true, then I’ll act on it.  If I believe that a chair is strong enough to hold me, then I’ll sit on it.  If I believe that God’s my Provider, then I’ll move forward in what He’s called me to do.

Be men of courage.  This is the second step of faith.  If I believe that something’s true, then I won’t be afraid to let people know that I believe it.  I think that all too often, courage is the missing ingredient in many of our lives.

We are a part of a culture that tells us that it’s offensive to believe in Jesus Christ as a Savior.  So in order to accommodate them, we keep silent.  At the same time, every other belief is allowed to take center stage.

We need to be vocal about what we believe, while at the same time being sensitive to walk in love.

Be strong.  This actually means to be strengthened.  We shouldn’t be stagnant in our spiritual growth.  There are things we can be doing to build ourselves up.

Prayer in the spirit, meditation on the Word, and fasting are just a few ways to become stronger.  Just like in the physical, we can’t neglect our spiritual health.  If we do, then the consequences could be devastating.

Do everything in love.  This is the one that ties everything else together.  Our lives should reflect the love of Christ in all that we do.

This is the agape-love.  It’s the non-emotional desire to treat others as if you like them, no matter how you actually feel about them.  And also, whether you know them or not.

This love is a choice that we make to walk like Jesus did.  Our love is what will draw people to the cross.  That should be the goal of all that we do.

Question: How well is each of these characteristics visible in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Planning for the Future

In the closing chapter of First Corinthians, Paul talks about the future.  He lets the church know where he and his team are going.  This gives us some insight into how we should look forward.

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you — for I will be going through Macedonia.  Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.  I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
1 Corinthians 16:5-9

One of the things that I notice right away is Paul’s reliance upon knowing God’s will for his life.  It’s something that we need to come to grips with, in our generation.

The apostle sought out God’s best every step of the way.  So when he looked ahead, he kept that in mind.  He knew what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go.  But he always qualified it by saying “if the Lord permits.”

All that means is that he didn’t yet know God’s perfect will concerning that trip yet.  He had faith that at some point it would become clear to him where he was to go.

It’s unfortunate that in our generation there are many believers who take no thought of what God wants them to do.  They make their plans based on their own wants and desires.  Then they bring these plans to God for His blessing.

We’ve fallen into the trap of planning out our lives without first seeking God’s will.  That’s the very definition of godlessness.  Yes, it is possible to be a godless Christian.

We need to learn to hear from God first and then set our plans according to His will.  In this way, we’ll know that our path is blessed even before we ask God to bless it.

Of course, there’s another side to the issue.  Just because it’s God’s will for us to do something doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be easy.  God opened a door of ministry for him, but Paul acknowledged that there was going to be great opposition.

That seems to be the story of most successful ministries.  A great door opened for a powerful work.  While at the same time, there’s great opposition.  That’s why problems are never an indicator of whether or not you’re in God’s will.  You need to hear from Him before you start.

I also notice Paul providing for those under him in ministry.

If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.  No one, then, should refuse to accept him.  Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers.  He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
1 Corinthians 16:10-12

The thing that I see is that there’s no sense of competition.  Paul never felt the need to prove he was better than anyone else.

Too often in ministry, leaders seem to think that they have to keep others down.  They don’t want to see their “protégés” reaching a higher level than them.  Leaders don’t want to lose their status.  Personally, I think that it would be an honor to have trained someone who is doing a great work for Christ.

We need to be seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for every aspect of our ministry.  Only then will we see the results that will point to the power of God at work.

Question: How do you plan what you’ll be doing in the future?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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