The news these days has been about our government’s plan, or lack thereof, when it comes to dealing with the growing terrorist threat, particularly from the ISIS folks. Our president has come under fire, I think rightfully so, for not having such a strategy.
We need a strategy to address those who come against us. Seems like common sense. We can’t just sit around and wait for the attack and then try to react. We need to have a plan in place, expecting the attack, and being ready for it. Again, common sense. But why, then, don’t we take the same approach when it comes to dealing with the oldest “terrorist” of them all: Satan?
We know the enemy is out there. We know that he’s actively looking for ways to attack and destroy. Peter tells us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) But most of us go through life day to day with our heads up in the air as if we don’t have a care in the world.
I’m not saying we should cower and live in fear. In fact we’re told the exact opposite. We are not to live in a spirit of fear, we are to take heart because our God has overcome the world, etc. But we are still to be prepared.
I think of our Lord in the Garden. He is praying fervently because of the test in front of Him, and He asks His disciples to join Him. Sadly, they fall asleep. And Jesus’, knowing the temptations that are coming on them as well, encourages them with these words: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
That is perhaps the most basic strategy of all. Watch and pray. Be alert, be on guard, be ready. And be in prayer. Sadly, as basic as this strategy is, too many of us ignore it.
Oh, we pray. We pray for our own comfort. We pray for our own blessings. We may even pray with a more selfless mindset; we pray for those around us who are sick and hurting and so on. And that’s fine and good. But we often forget to pray as a strategy against temptation.
Odd, when you think of it. The “Lord’s Prayer” includes the petition to “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” God puts it front and center for us. But still, so often we don’t think of it, don’t plan for temptation, don’t have a strategy for it.
Part of it is pride, probably. We think we’re strong and immune from this or that temptation. Which is no doubt why God tells us “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) When you think you’re strong, that’s when you need a strategy most of all. Watch and pray. Of course, that passage goes on to tell us that when the temptations do come, God will also provide a way out. But even there, unless we have a plan in place, a strategy based on God’s Word, we may not recognize that provided way out.
God does provide a way out, and that’s through His promises. So we might add to watch and pray: watch and pray and read. Read and meditated on God’s Word, so that when the temptations come we are aware of the promises God has given us in order to stand up under them.
Isn’t this just how Jesus approached things during His temptation in the wilderness. He had a strategy in place. He was ready, was praying, was grounded in the promises of God’s Word, and He prevailed.
Don’t fool yourself. The enemy is on the prowl. Sneakier and more hate filled than any ISIS terrorist, our enemy is bent on the destruction of God’s people. He’s looking to devour. You need a strategy. Don’t get caught unaware. Watch and pray and read. Even if you think you’re strong, especially if you think you’re strong, take heed; be prepared.