Overcoming PrayerlessnessAugust 27, 2015
Pastor and filmmaker Alex Kendrick sees a trend among Christian men, and it's troubling. This trend toward compartmentalizing our lives leaves Christian men prayerless and ineffective before the onslaught of Satan.
Pastor and filmmaker Alex Kendrick sees a trend among Christian men, and it's troubling. This trend toward compartmentalizing our lives leaves Christian men prayerless and ineffective before the onslaught of Satan.
Bob: As Christians, we face a very real enemy—someone who wants to render us ineffective in our service for Christ. Here’s author and speaker Alex Kendrick.
Alex: Satan will lie to you and he’ll say: “You know what? This private sin you’ve got going on over here”—alcohol, drugs, pornography, an affair, whatever it is—“this is not affecting anybody else but you. You keep it to yourself—shh!” He’s first compartmentalizing—he distracts you and deceives you into compartmentalizing your life: “This belongs over here. This is not affecting anything else,”—it’s affecting everything!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We are engaged in a spiritual battle. The question is: “Do we know how to fight?” We’re going to hear from Alex Kendrick about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I don’t know how many of us stop to think, day to day, that when we are engaged in the discipline of prayer, we’re actually in the middle of spiritual battle as we talk with God; aren’t we?
Dennis: We are. We’re actually engaging in a battlefield. In fact, today, we’re going to hear about three battlefields, specifically, that men face as they pray. We’re going to hear from Alex Kendrick, who is the producer and director of War Room—also produced Courageous and Fireproof—a great film producer and pioneer in the Christian film industry.
Bob: War Room is the movie that opens tomorrow night in theaters all across the country. By the way, Alex is going to be joining us in October for our one-day simulcast—the I Still Do® simulcast on Saturday, October 17th.
He’s going to be one of the speakers talking about the importance of prayer in a marriage relationship. That’s what the movie is really all about.
Dennis: It really is. If you haven’t heard about War Room, it really is an entertaining, funny, but very spiritually-powerful movie, that—I promise you—you won’t think about prayer in the same way after attending this movie.
Bob, this is really helping us introduce the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge, which is husbands and wives engaging in prayer, every day, over a 30-day period. Barbara and I have prayed together for all 43 years of our marriage, and it’s really one of the most important spiritual disciplines that we can engage in, as a couple.
Bob: Well, let’s spend some time thinking about doing battle in prayer as we listen to Alex Kendrick talking about the battlefields that we find ourselves on when we are in prayer with God.
[Previously Recorded Message]
Alex: Today, I’m going to talk about three battlefields that I would say, before this, I was not as aware of.
The first battlefield I’m going to talk about today is the personal battlefield. This is where I am, individually, with the Lord, with my wife, with the level of integrity in my job—how I treat others—as a father, as a brother, as a Christian. This is the individual battlefield—the issues I fight and struggle with myself.
The second battlefield I’m going to talk about is the corporate battlefield. The corporate battlefield is where we, as a church, locally—even a community, or you can get as big as a city—the corporate battlefield. The people in my immediate arena: “How do we work together? How do we pray together? How do we fight battles and serve together the issues in our immediate arena?”—the corporate battlefield.
The third battlefield I’m going to talk about is the Kingdom battlefield. When I say, “Kingdom battlefield,” I’m more or less talking about the heart of a nation. Now, if you say, “Alex, where are you getting these three battlefields?” First: Scripture says we’re judged on all three levels. Think about this—we already know we stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment—individually Scripture says—we have to give an account for our lives to the Lord. But isn’t it interesting how many times the Lord judges churches or cities? He judges Jerusalem, Nineveh, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc., etc. He judges cities, and He also judges nations—He judges Israel and Judah, He judged Moab and Edom, etc., etc. If you read Revelation, He goes through and judges the types of churches. We are judged on all three levels.
King David fought the lion and the bear, individually, by himself. He fought the lion and the bear as a shepherd boy before he fought Goliath in a corporate setting, with the armies of the Philistines and Israel. He defeated Goliath before he became king and led the nation of Israel to seek the Lord and defend the land—personal, corporate, Kingdom.
I’m traveling, and I’m speaking at all these different places, and I’m realizing that we—the church in America, who follow Jesus Christ—are losing influence and losing ground in the Kingdom battlefield. I’m thinking: “What is going on, Lord? What is going on? Help me understand what is going on! What does the church need to be doing?” because there are influences sweeping across our country that are changing our laws, changing our perception of morality, redefining things that the Lord defines in Scripture. Where are the men?! Where is the church?!
I began to realize how the enemy works—Satan distracts, deceives, and divides. He wants to divide us. He wants to divide, not only our marriages, he wants to divide our effectiveness, as parents—divide us from winning the hearts of our children. He wants to divide our churches to keep us always looking in at our own problems—we can’t look out at the ministry God calls us to do. Divide, divide, divide, divide!
If you want to defeat your enemy, you have to distract them and, if you can, deceive them: “We’ll attack over here, but we’re really going to attack over here!” And then you divide them—divide them and they start losing effectiveness. That is what’s going on in the church in America.
So I thought, “Lord, what do we need to do?”
It starts, here, in the individual battlefield / the personal battlefield. If I buy Satan’s lies, he keeps me distracted. I buy his lies, and I can’t win the personal battle. I am then ineligible to fight in the corporate battle or, more importantly, the Kingdom battle.
We have to fight the lion and the bear in our own life first before fighting the Goliaths together or standing corporately before we defend the land. You can’t skip one. “Oh, Alex, I hear what you’re saying, but I’ve got this private stuff over here. I’ve got this stuff that I’m struggling with over here; but I sure would like to be over there ‘Rah-rahing’ you and helping other people fight the Kingdom battle.” You can’t do that!
Here’s the issue—Satan will lie to you and he’ll say: “You know what? This private sin you’ve got going on over here”—alcohol, drugs, pornography, an affair, whatever it is—“this is not affecting anybody else but you. You keep it to yourself—shh! You can be a good man every other…” He distracts you and deceives you into compartmentalizing your life:
“This belongs over here. This is not affecting anything else,”—it’s affecting everything!
Why would the Lord pour His favor and blessing over you if you’ve got private sin that you refuse to get right? He is not going to bless you and help you in fighting these other battlefields. In other words, if Satan can keep you stuck right here, he takes over that battlefield. You need the hand of God on your life. Acts 3:19: “’Repent and return to Me’—the Lord says—‘that your sin may be wiped away and you may experience refreshing times in the presence of the Lord.’”
In my individual life, I have to say: “Lord, search my whole heart. Lord, don’t let me be disqualified from fighting where You want me to fight—to stand with others the way you want me to stand with them, to be a unifying factor in my church, to be the prayer warrior You’ve called me to be, to love my wife, to love my children.
“Lord, help me get the rust off my sword again and my armor. You fill me with power. You fill me with influence.”
When we get right with the Lord in our personal battlefield, we’re then eligible to lock shields with our brothers and sisters, starting in our local church. You need to become a unifying factor—a prayer warrior in your church. If there’s division in your church, you help the leadership to root out anybody that’s divisive for the wrong reasons—that puts the focus on secondary issues. There will always be secondary issues—always! You’ve got to be unified!
So, I get right, personally—in my personal battlefield—and I engage in the corporate battlefield. I say to pastors and leaders—other Christian business leaders: “How can we lock shields / pray together?—keep each other accountable?” I will fall without accountability—I will!
So we lock shields; and we say, “Lord, help us, corporately / our church, to do what You have called us to do.” Then, when we start operating in unity, we start locking shields with other churches; and we start reaching our community. One church is not meant to reach your entire city—it takes the body of Christ! When we do this, we then start impacting our culture. It starts individually, then corporately; and you start impacting the Kingdom.
It boils down to this, guys: “When you think about this generation and the next generation, whoever wants the next generation the most will get them.” MTV wants them. The gay agenda wants them—wants their loyalty / wants their hearts, their mindset, their perspectives. Business wants them. Does the church want them? Do you want them?
I think, “Lord, You’ve allowed me to just taste a little bit of what it’s like to get right with You here.” And I’m not always right with Him. I have to continually go back and win battles in the personal battlefield—I get right. My brother and I, and our staff, and our fellow Christians, and pastor pray together and keep each other accountable. We start building that synergy here, and then we do something for the Kingdom.
For me, it has been the books and the movies. It’s not going to be that way for everybody. But, see, I don’t even deserve to be here—I didn’t go to film school / I didn’t take acting classes. Some of you are saying, “I know that!” [Laughter] There’s some cheese in our films—I hate it, but we’re working on it. We’re growing! My point is that the Lord has let me taste a little bit of what it’s like to fight in the Kingdom battlefield. It’s seeping into 75—our films are in 75 countries. So I think, “Lord, only You could do this!”
We need this influence in the education world, in the business world, continuing in the ministry world—I mean, in the political world.
In every facet, we need to be sending out warriors for Christ—warriors for Christ to win back the heart of our nation because we’re leading other nations.
Where are you, men? “’Repent and return to Me,’—says the Lord—‘that your sins are forgiven.’” They’re wiped away and you can experience refreshing times in the presence of the Lord. Then we come together corporately. One of my favorite verses is
Jeremiah 29:13. Jeremiah 29:13—the Lord says, “If you seek Me, you will find Me if you seek Me with all of your heart.” Guys, you can’t be half-hearted / you can’t be hypocritical—because we’ve got stuff we’re still hiding, over here, in the personal battlefield.
When you get right, you step in to face the Goliaths. We’ve got to do it together. It would have been phenomenal if Israel had claimed what David claimed: “There is one God; and my God can help me defeat you, Goliath.”
And then, when we get together corporately, we’re not perfect; but we seek to walk with the Lord. Scripture says, “A righteous man falls seven times and gets right back up.” All of us will fall, from time to time. You get right back up and you repent here. You get refreshed with the Lord and get right with Him. You reengage—reengage. It’s like a football game, guys! You fumble. You pick it right back up and try to get that first down again. If you lose the ball, you get it back. You just keep on—it’s back and forth / back and forth. But fight for unity so that we can win ground here.
Where is America’s heart? It’s not where it needs to be. The church has got to be unified. If you call Jesus, “Lord, the Son of God,” and you acknowledge who He is, and that it’s by His blood—He died on the cross / He rose three days later from the grave—and we agree on that—that’s the primary point of unity. Everything else is secondary. Keep secondary things secondary.
What divides you from other believers? Do you really think you totally have the interpretation of Scripture correct? No! I don’t! No denomination is completely correct. Jesus is completely correct! [Applause] So that’s our point of unity. [Applause]
If you’re a pastor in this room, I beg you, sir, please partner with others in your community to pray with them. We’ve got to be in unity. Second Chronicles 7:14 is my verse for the Kingdom battlefield: “’If My people, who are called by My Name,’”—I’m a follower of Jesus Christ—“’will humble themselves and pray’”—we’re locking shields— we’re humbling ourselves / we’re getting right—we’re locking shields and we’re praying—“’will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face’”—He hears from heaven, He forgives our sin, and He heals our land.
Personal battle, corporate battle, Kingdom battle. Where are you in the personal battle?—because we need you, men—we need you, we need you, we need you! The world needs to see the influence of the church that believes that Jesus is Lord in America. We lead by influence—and they don’t see just disunity, disunity, disunity—while Satan’s forces and the culture, that are unified, start taking over the hearts of this next generation. Do you want the next generation? Whoever wants them the most are going to get them. We’ve got to want them!
Bob: Would you guys thank Alex Kendrick? [Applause] Go ahead and have a seat for just a minute. As you were talking, I was thinking about the last book in the Old Testament—about the book of Malachi, where the nation of Israel comes before the Lord—and they say, “Why have we lost Your favor?”
Bob: “Where’s the blessing?” God reveals to them: “In some cases, you’ve lost the blessing because you’ve lost the personal battlefield.”
Alex: That’s right.
Bob: So the nation can be judged if men are not winning on the personal battlefield.
Alex: Yes! And we are. As a matter of fact, Malachi ends with what?—turning the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the children back to the fathers—which is a picture of unity, starting in the home.
Alex: Starting in the home: “Lord, turn my heart back to the first thing You have called me to be—husband and father—and obeying You.” When you do, there’s a picture of unity; and you can go to the next field.
Bob: I was thinking about where men today are losing the personal battle.
Bob: It seems to me, as I’ve talked to men, that the issue of lust—
Bob: —is the stronghold in a lot of guys’ lives. What do we do?
Alex: Well, first note—and we’ve talked about how the enemy distracts, deceives, and divides. What does he have our culture doing?—
—feeding your lusts, feeding your lusts, feeding your lusts. If you and I are not disciplined, and we don’t guard our eyes—set evil things before our eyes—guys, you’re going to struggle, and struggle, and struggle. What does the enemy want? He wants to keep you mired in this battlefield because it prevents you from fighting in the others. It prevents unity. All of us struggle with this!
Alex: Some of you, right now, are struggling with pornography. If we truly ask and you truly responded, half or more of the hands in this room would go up. That’s where we are. So you’ve got to fight. That’s why it’s called “war.” Fight! You have to fight, and you use the Word of God to do that.
Bob: You’ve met guys who say, “I’ve gone before the Lord a dozen times, repenting of that sin, and I keep getting pulled back.”
Alex: Well, first, thank you for acknowledging it is what it is; but get accountability. What I had to do was break access to it—if it means getting rid of cable TV / if it means cancelling internet in your home, do it!
You say, “Oh, it’s going to hurt my business.” Better that your business fails than everything else!!
Alex: So get accountability. I have three different guys who can say: “What have you looked at this week / this month? How are you supporting your marriage? How are you fighting for your ministry? Have you lied to me?”
Alex: You’ve got to have somebody that you trust enough to ask you those hard questions.
Bob: Take the computer out to the curb. Even if our neighbors think you’re crazy,—
Bob: —you still do it; right?
Alex: Whatever it is!—high accountability and break access. Remember—for me, I know—I know I have a target on my head by the enemy—
Alex: —because it would please Satan if, “Oh, here’s the guy who made Fireproof,”and “Here’s the guy who made Courageous; but look what happened to him!”
Alex: So I have personally—and it took me years to get to this point—I have asked God, “Lord, before I fall to an affair or temptation, kill me. Let ministry expand after I die than to fall and to shame the name of the Lord.”
That puts the fear of God in me. [Applause] Yes; but, Bob, I admit this—when that prayer was introduced to me years ago—initially, I could not pray that prayer. I could not ask the God of the universe to kill me before I fell because I wasn’t ready to pray it. But today, I understand that what I do for the Lord and my influence is too important. So I ask for God’s blessing here. I want to fight in this battlefield—the Kingdom battlefield—
Alex: —which means you’re accountable for it. So I’ve said, “Lord, before I fall, just take me home.” If you find out something bad happened to me and I go home, praise God! [Laughter] Just say, “Praise God!” [Applause]
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Alex Kendrick, the co-producer, and director, and one of the stars in the movie, War Room—that is opening in theaters across the country this weekend—talking about what the movie’s talking about—talking about prayer.
Dennis: You know, Ephesians, Chapter 6, talks about the spiritual battle all of us engage in. It has all these weapons that we have, but one of the things that it says is that we are to pray at all times. I just want to encourage you, as a listener, if you and your spouse have not decided to begin to pray together every day, I want you to begin to prepare yourselves for what we’re going to feature, beginning next week, as we take this theme that War Room has introduced all across the country—of praying—having a private place where you pray, and you take things before the Lord God Almighty.
We’re going to encourage people, Bob, over a 30-day period—husbands and wives—to engage in prayer regularly and to bring matters that are on your hearts before God, together.
It will solidify your oneness, and it will make a difference because God does hear and God does answer prayer.
Bob: We’re hoping that folks who go see the movie are motivated and say, “We ought to be praying together more regularly, as a couple.” We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for you to begin this practice in your marriage. What we’re asking you to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” You can sign up to receive a daily prayer prompt. It will give you a script to follow / a plan to follow each day as you come together and pray.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” Sign up for the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge, which kicks off Tuesday, September 1,and will continue for 30 days.
We’ve got lots of couples who have already signed up. We’re hoping that there will be thousands of couples joining us in this prayer challenge, all across the country, praying every day together during the month of September.
By the way, while you’re on our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, look for the book written by Stephen and Alex Kendrick called The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies. This is a book that will take your prayer life from being impulsive to being deliberate, intentional, [and] strategic. Again, the title of the book is The Battle Plan for Prayer. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And, quickly, as we wrap things up today, we want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who make the ministry of FamilyLife Today possible with your financial support. In fact, this is a significant week for us as we are about to wrap up our fiscal year.
We start a new fiscal year in September. We are grateful for how we have seen God at work in this ministry over the last year—grateful to those of you who have contributed to help support the work of FamilyLife Today. And we’re praying that we will finish this year in a good, healthy, strong position. So, “Thanks, again, for your support throughout the year.”
If you’re able to help with a fiscal yearend donation, today’s a good day to do that. You can do that, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I care,” to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation over the phone. Or you can mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. The zip code is 72223.
By the way, when you make a donation today, we’d like to send you, as a thank-you gift, Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Two Hearts Praying as One. It’s our way of saying, “Thank you for your support of this ministry,” and our way of helping you get ready for the 30-day Oneness Prayer Challenge as we launch it next week.
Now, tomorrow, we are going to hear from Alex Kendrick again, along with his brother, Stephen, and from T.C. Stallings, who is the star of the new movie, War Room, that’s opening in theaters tomorrow night. Michael Jr. will also join us—he has a role in the movie as well. I hope you can tune in as we talk about the theme of the movie and talk about prayer.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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