10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Eph. 6:10-20
In my country, Tanzania, there is a city called Arusha. Anyone, even from outside the country, who has ever heard of Tanzania knows Arusha, for it is the tourist hub of Tanzania. In other words, it is the most renowned city in Tanzania.
But there is something else for which Arusha is notorious for: it is awash with Pentecostal churches, ministries, radio stations, etc. There is every kind of these things in Arusha. And Arusha has every kind of ministry that you can find in the Bible, and more. Here there are chief apostles, ‘anointed thunder’; anything and everything that has to do with Penteostalism you will find here.
Furthermore, it is as if every minute there is a major Christian event going on in this distinguished city.
But it is in the ministry of prayer that Arusha has broken the sound barrier. The city is the prayer mecca of Tanzania. Dozens of prayer mountains, both literal and figurative, dot the town. Every weekend, pilgrims are bused in from every corner of Tanzania to attend ‘power-packed’ prayer vigils in the various hallowed locations of this city. Arusha is the powerhouse of prayer in the country.
But, in spite of all this religious activity and prayers, a lot of rumours surround the lives of most of the leaders of these ministries, churches, etc, leaving a lot to be desired. And rumour also has it that Arusha is not the holiest city in Tanzania. As far as raw crime goes, to begin with, it is an open secret that Arusha is the top haven for robbers, conmen, etc. A while back, the army had to be called in to dislodge a gang of robbers who had barricaded themselves inside a top-security house. In fact, during that particular operation the army had to use artillery to bring down the house!
And there is more. The rumour mill also has it that for every kind of twilight girl who considers themselves light-skinned enough and who can manage a smattering of English, their first stop is Arusha. The green city teems with these girls.
The general picture, therefore, is that, despite the city being the top upholder of Christian prayer and religious activity, it appears also to be abode of spiritual principalities and powers of darkness.
And herein we find the biggest problem facing the church today, and the chief reason for the church walking in defeat. The problem with most believers is that, when they read that our warfare is
“against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”
they immediately think in the natural. Instead of seeing things in the Spirit through God’s Word, they visualize things in their mind. And when you think in the natural, in the spirit you are defeated even before you begin your perceived ‘warfare’.
These believers begin to war against the devil through prayer, fasting, rebuking, etc. Now, these things are necessary, but notice in our key scripture above that they are not the first thing on the to-do list. According to this scripture, the first thing is living a holy life. Prayer is part of our spiritual weaponry all right, but it is not the sole weapon and, indeed, it is not the first. Our primary spiritual weapon is the holy life that we live. That is what Paul is telling us in Ephesians.
When we have not the revelation of the cross, we do things upside down. We begin with number two instead of number one; or, we begin with the tail instead of the head. And there is no victory in such an approach.
In fact, the Christian way to living a victorious lifestyle is the life we live, not the principles and laws that we follow. That is why, in living the victorious Christian life, there are no 5 (or 10 or 20) steps to this or that. There are no number of principles to follow. That is why the Apostle Paul can tell the Ephesians,
“18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel…”
Imagine that! As part of their victorious war against the devil, Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him and his ministry! This is not the understanding the church has today. All it knows about warring against the devil is casting, rebuking, so-called deliverance, and such-like. Prayer therefore becomes a ritual from which the believer’s life and lifestyle is suspended.
But prayer ought to be part and parcel of our entire Christian life.
Finally, Proverbs 14:34 tells us:
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
We cannot replace “righteousness” with “prayer” in this scripture, can we? You can pray all you want, but if you are not striving to live a holy life, all your praying amounts to nothing.
[The approach to Singida Town from Arusha]