Target Practice

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:18

A couple of weeks ago my nephew took my son in law and grandson out to the desert for a day of shooting-target practice. They brought many types of targets as well as many types of guns and ammunition accordingly. A day of fun for civilians, a daily practice for a soldier. Upon arrival home, my grandson was elated with how he had had these wonderful opportunities to shoot this type of gun or that type of gun or an antique Russian riffle used in World War I. Hours of chatter about the excitement, thrill, and victories as displayed on souvenir targets transported back to home with pride and glee, warmed the room and our hearts.

“Nice family anecdote, Bridget. Now, what’s your point?” you may ask. But the question is this: Is this target practice just child’s play or is there a deeper meaning? Most parables, allegories, and such tales have two levels of meaning: one earthly, plot-bound, and simplistic; the other, for a lesson, moral, or spiritual insight. How easy it is for us to watch network television, seeing warfare on wide screens, hearing of wars and rumors of wars, and forget that we, like the soldiers of the past, present, and future, are in a war with far greater consequence than this world could ever hold. So then, what is our target and how do we practice?

Examining closely the theme verse the first word is praying. This is the cornerstone of this verse.  There are no AKA47s here, no catapults, no helicopters, no hummers, just God’s Word and Prayer. Notice that the first word is pray-ING. This is a constant state as told to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: Pray without ceasing. Luke 18:1 says to pray and never give up. You need to be in the state of mind-you are in a war-you are praying.

The target practice is “with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” The Spirit helps us to communicate effectively the will of the Father. We need to use whatever prayers we can pull out of the munitions closet. To supplicate is to make a humble entreaty according to Merriam-Webster. My favorite analogy of the work of the saints in prayer is that we are laying tracks for the train. God is fully capable of doing anything without us; however, for whatever reason in His sovereignty, He has decided to use us. When we pray, we lay down the track, allowing God’s will and plans to be set forward.

Wow! What a thing to behold! What a wonder to contemplate! We have the privilege of participating in the practical working out of the Kingdom of God-His eternal purpose. Specificity is the key to this work. As we hone our skills in target practice, we are able to aim closer to the will of the Lord. When we specifically pray, we can specifically praise the Lord for the answers. Answers to prayers that are specific trigger our memories and cause us to give the credit to the Lord, encouraging us to pray even more. What purpose would it serve to go to a shooting range with a handful of assorted guns and rifles loaded down with ammunition if there is no direction to my shooting? How dangerous would that be to me and the others around me?

After spending a long day in the desert, would you come home with a target not used-with no bullet holes of any kind? Puzzled, your friends and family would ask you why you failed to shoot at the target? What would be your reply? “Ya, I could have shot at the target, but I didn’t want to be committed to that target. I wanted to choose my own way.” Or would your reply be something like this? “I didn’t feel like shooting that day. I was too tired. I went horseback riding instead.” Lame. Pointless. Who having driven that far, paid the fee, carried the guns and the ammunition, would not at least try to shoot at the targets provided? To fail to aim is to miss the mark.

Not only do we need to have the ammunition and weapons (the Word of the Lord and the application thereof, namely prayer), we need to be disciplined in it. We need to be watchful-sober-vigilant. We have an enemy. He seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). Folks, HE IS NOT TOOTHLESS.

Yes, outside of time, he is a defeated foe. Within the confines of time, our enemy is very capable of doing damage to you, your household, your family, your friends, your brothers and sisters, the church. Although he cannot rob you of your salvation, he can cause injury and wounds and make you an ineffective soldier. His purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) — he wants to neutralize you. Hasn’t he done enough already? He can only be defeated in this present day through prayer.

Be aware. A soldier doesn’t walk into a battlefield blind. No. A good soldier is well prepared-well aware of his surroundings. He is well aware of the tactics of his enemy. He is prepared physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We no longer walk in the darkness for the Light has come. Let’s put on our night vision in this dark world and use the gift of discernment the Lord has given to us. I am convinced that the Lord gives us most visions, words of knowledge, and discernment to direct our prayers and to make them more accurate and thus, more effective.

Having all of this training we still need to persevere. We need to tough it out, buck up bronco, pull our proverbial selves up by our bootstraps. We have to hang in there, stay involved, and still care. Yes, we may see discouragement, disillusionment, and heartbreak. Yes, we may have to pray for our father for 23 years before he accepts the Lord.

Never give up. Pray for all of the saints. Pray for your husband, mother, wife, brother. Pray for your children, nephew, and niece. Pray for your aunt, uncle, and cousin down the street. Ask the Lord to help you pray accurately. Ask Him to show you what His will is for their lives.

Pray, pray, and pray some more. Prayer is the WMD that no one is even looking for. We can provide mass destruction to the kingdom of darkness by opening our mouth and speaking forth the will of the Lord.

This is my testimony. The more I ask of the Lord, the more He shows me, the more I want to pray, the more I notice the results. It takes time. But not all wars are won in an hour, day, week, or even a decade.

Is the cost worth it to you? Is someone’s life worth your time? Be accurate. Aim with perfection. Pray with perseverance. The move of the Lord will blow your mind. Believe it-it’s a promise.

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