Tag Archives: Power of Prayer

Remaining Faithful to God in an Increasingly Evil and Hostile World

As the world descends into darkness and escalates its embrace of evil, practicing the Christian faith and proclaiming the gospel grows increasingly difficult. And as government hostility towards, and intimidation of, Christians accelerates across the globe, those who despise Christianity are emboldened to threaten, malign, and discriminate against believers without the fear of recourse. And it’s not hard to imagine a future where society marginalizes and cancels believers who refuse to conform to its morality, businesses refuse to serve Christians who reject their extremist ideology, and employers terminate those who dare to follow Christ in their personal lives.

In such depraved and disturbing times, remaining faithful to Jesus will be more challenging. The dark forces of this world will align and make every effort to eliminate every expression of faith, biblical truth, and the gospel. To persevere through these rapidly evolving times, Christians must prepare now! Here are four actions you should implement in your life immediately (if you are not already doing them) to stand steadfast with Christ in this evil age and advance His agenda in a hostile world.

1) Study the Bible daily. This sounds so obvious and yet is so critical for your faith to endure the troubling trials on the horizon, or perhaps even at your door. Scripture tells us to “study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8). Though most of us are familiar with this verse and some have even memorized it, too few put it into practice consistently.

God wants us to study the Bible on a regular basis, not just read it. Allow Scripture to soak into your soul and nourish it. And when the Holy Spirit lays a passage on your heart, as He often will, reflect on it throughout the day.

Of course, this commitment requires you to free up considerable time on your schedule, which will mean scaling back on hobbies and investing less time on entertainment and leisure activities. Doing so may be challenging but remember the words of Jesus: “If anyone wants to be My disciple, he must give up his own way, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Beginning today, choose to prioritize Bible study over worldly activities.

This is an inflection point in your faith journey. You must decide whether to take God’s Word serious or ignore it and continue to pursue the passing pleasures of this world. But beware, choosing the latter will leave you unprepared for the spiritual battles that lie ahead.

2) “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As with the verse from Joshua, Scripture challenges us to implement another ongoing spiritual discipline into our lives; this time prayer. Going through life in a state of constant prayer accomplishes several things.

First, it sharpens our awareness of God. The Lord opens our eyes to how He is at work around us. Second, it magnifies our gratitude for God. We see more clearly the blessings He provides and refrain from allowing momentary trials to derail that gratitude. 

Third, we respond to people in a more Christ-like manner. It is very difficult to curse the driver who cut you off, sabotage the colleague who took credit for your hard work, or snap at the rude and unhelpful post office clerk when you are in continual prayer.

Fourth, prayer heightens our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s presence, His leadership, His power, and His wisdom. He equips us with the strength to confront evil and share the gospel with boldness.

A cultivated prayer life also requires discipline and focus. There is no right way to pray. Prayer can include words of worship, expressing our love for God, acknowledging His glory, and praising His name. It may include intervention for the sick, the lost, the needy, the hopeless, and the dying. Pray that God softens the hearts of those who oppose Him, and that those with power, influence, and leadership positions in this world would use them for good and not evil. 

Pray for revival; that God’s Spirit would ignite the hearts of those living in your town, region, and country, and that He would draw them to Him. Pray that God would give you an understanding of His Word, boldness to share that Word, and discernment to distinguish between truth and deceit.

3) “Do not be conformed to this world.” (Romans 12:2a). The world is perishing and everything in it. As such our lives should not reflect the world, but Christ who transforms us into His likeness.

We are a light shining in a world that loves the darkness. Any time we compromise God’s standards and truth with the world, our light shines a little less bright. We yield God’s moral authority to the world’s depravity. 

Moreover, compromising God’s Word lends legitimacy to the world’s wickedness. Essentially, we give the world ‘a license to sin’ when we follow their example instead of modeling Christ in our words, behaviors, and decisions.

That is why it’s critical we represent Christ faithfully in every aspect of our lives, as His ambassadors in this world. This includes areas where much of the church mirrors the world: how we spend our money, how we invest our time, and how we chase ‘the good life.’

Ask the Lord to reveal behaviors, decisions, and priorities in your life that conform to the world. Request that He transform you in those areas to better represent Him, His standards, and His Word. Doing so will not only mature your faith, it will provide the world an attractive and accurate reflection of Jesus Christ.

4) Count all things as loss for Christ. For most of us, this action will likely be the most difficult to implement on an ongoing basis. It is rooted in the apostle Paul’s words to the church at Philippi. “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed I also count all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8). 

Paul recognized that a genuine commitment to Christ results in losing many of the things we value in life. If we are not prepared to suffer the loss of those things, our faith may flounder when we must choose between Jesus and that which we cherish.

For your faith to endure the coming trials and tribulations, you must count as loss all things you value in this world: career, reputation, comfort, home, safety, freedom, and life itself. If you prize any of those above Christ, you jeopardize your faith. For when society demands you renounce Christ or risk being unemployed, unpopular, uncomfortable, unsafe, homeless, incarcerated, or executed, you will likely turn your back on the Lord.

This action will seem unreasonable and unacceptable to those who professed Christ with the understanding that no demands would be made of them. They will reject these verses and deny that Jesus expects them to count as loss anything they cherish. 

But for those who counted the cost before coming to faith in Christ, the opportunity to sacrifice those things they value in order to know Him more deeply will resonate with their souls. They understand that nothing is of greater value than eternity with the risen Lord who sacrificed His life for them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, a season of unimaginable darkness and depravity is drawing near, which will unleash unspeakable acts of violence, oppression, and destruction across the planet. Hate, greed, corruption, and lawlessness will increase exponentially. Love, generosity, justice, and holiness will diminish drastically. Consequently, the world will need believers to speak the truth and live like Christ more than ever, though doing so will incur the world’s wrath like never before.

But remember, the war the world wages against Christianity is spiritual in nature, though the world does not acknowledge that. For that reason, prepare for the battle by immersing yourself in Scripture, establishing prayer as a daily priority, refusing to confirm to the world, and counting all things you value as loss for Christ.

And now I leave you with these words from the apostle Paul:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:12-18, NLT).

Jesus’ Model for Making Decisions.

I wonder how many readers are wrestling with a difficult decision in their lives. You want to obey God but are unable to discern His will. Perhaps the Bible offers little specific guidance on how to move forward. On the surface, all alternatives appear acceptable to God, yet you suspect He prefers one choice. But which one? How can you determine with confidence the path forward?

Let’s look at Jesus’ life to understand His approach to decision-making, and in the process glean several important lessons and insights.

One of the most important decisions Jesus made was His selection of the twelve apostles; those men who would serve as future leaders of the church and in whom Jesus would invest Himself over the course of His ministry. Did Jesus simply trust His instincts in making this critical decision? If not, what pattern did He give us?

Scripture tells us that before making His decision Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Him; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13, NKJV).

Jesus devoted significant time alone in prayer with God, making known His request and listening for direction. Similarly, our decision-making process should always begin with prayer as a foundation. We may not spend all night in prayer seeking God’s direction but we should certainly invest considerable time soliciting His guidance when confronting any decision of consequence.

We would also do well to exercise caution in placing too much trust in the advice of others. Though soliciting godly counsel is often valuable – Solomon tells us, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14, NKJV) – we must remain mindful of the fact that others do not always share God’s perspective, no matter how spiritually mature they are.

Recall Peter’s response when Jesus revealed that He would suffer many things before being rejected and killed. Scripture tells us, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him” (Mark 8:32, NKJV). Jesus’ teaching made no sense to Peter because he was processing the message from a temporal perspective, not God’s eternal one. Peter was certain God’s plan did not involve a tortured and brutal death for His mentor, especially at so young an age. Had Jesus followed His outspoken disciple’s counsel He would have avoided a violent demise, but humanity would have forever remained separated from God with no hope for reconciliation.

Take a moment to digest the significant insight this encounter produced: God often leads us to actions and decisions that appear foolhardy to the world and may confound believers and church leaders as well. Learning from this, we must not assume other Christians always know God’s direction for us, irrespective of their spiritual depth. God’s path for us is just as likely to contradict the consensus of those around us as it is to align with it.

By extension, we also ought to avoid assuming God’s plan always fits nicely with our own desires. Recall Jesus’ prayer the night before His crucifixion. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus made known His desire to go down a different path, but also proclaimed His willingness to follow God regardless of the consequences. He refused to prioritize personal aspiration above obedience. We must adopt a similar mindset as we navigate choices throughout life. Inform God of our longings but always subject them to whatever plan He lays out for us.

Another important component of biblically sound decision-making involves actually acting on whatever direction God gives us. That can be challenging when His revealed path involves financial risk or jeopardizes our freedom, safety or life. In such situations it is critical we enlist the help of others, to hold us accountable and intercede with God on our behalf – asking Him to give us strength and boldness to move forward as directed.

An excellent example of this is found in the book of Esther. Following her decision to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jewish people, an act that had the potential to cost her her life, she makes the following appeal to her uncle, “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Susa, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16, NKJV).

Esther knew what God wanted her to do. But she also understood that obedience carried the risk of an early grave. So she asked the local Jewish community to fast and pray for her – that she would follow God’s plan, that her life would be spared, and that God would honor her obedience by saving the Jewish people. Don’t hesitate to ask other believers to bathe you in prayer and fast on your behalf the next time you find yourself struggling to travel down the path God has revealed to you.

Finally, as you contemplate current and future decisions, consider taking the path that draws you closer to God and demonstrates His love, mercy, and truth to others. In doing so, it’s possible your decision will not just have an immediate impact on you; it might just have an eternal impact on others.