by Tim Melton (and Mary Withum) – On Monday morning I walked into the church just like I do every week. Yet, on this Monday, after a busy weekend of ministry, my heart was heavy. In fact, I had been awake most of the night before and I had gotten very little rest. I was awake wrestling in prayer – praying for our church, praying for our staff, praying for our pastor, praying for our country, and praying for the upcoming building project. Every time I drifted off to sleep, I woke back up again. So, when I walked into the church building yesterday morning, I was surprised to see Mrs. Jean Parnell meet me at the door. She said, “I have been waiting for you to get here. We want you to join in with our ladies prayer group. We have something to share with you. And we want James Booth to join us as well.” So, James and I walked in to sit with these faithful ladies of prayer: Jean, Lib Huckabee, Mary Withum, Barbara Thomas, and Kathy Walker. Jean said, “We wanted you two to join us this morning to hear how we feel the Lord spoke to Mary Withum last night.” Of course, my ears immediately began to perk up. As a result of my previous night of waking and praying, I was interested to hear what Mary had to say. By the way, if you’ve had the privilege of knowing Mary Withum, then you know that she is a faithful woman of prayer in our church.
Mary began to share. “Last night I had a strange dream” she said. “In my dream I saw our church building. I was looking at the main entrance that faced the highway. Suddenly the doors of the building opened and I could see the saints of Surfside march out, one at a time. Everyone was dressed in the full armor of God and, as they emerged, they divided into four groups. The first group turned and started walking toward the north. The second group turned and walked toward the south. The third group walked east. And the fourth group went west.”
Mary paused for a moment then said, “In my dream, I wondered where everyone was going. But then it occurred to me – these people are streaming out of our church to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then I sensed that the Lord instructed me to go to the computer and find a prayer on the full armor of God found in Ephesians 6. I immediately found a prayer. I then felt compelled that I should ask the saints at Surfside Church to pray through this prayer before going out in the morning; that they should pray this prayer to prepare themselves for the calling that I sense God is placing on us as a church.”
Of course, as I listened to Mary speak, my eyes filled with tears. What an encouragement! How incredible to hear from Mary the very thing that I had sensed the evening before. How awesome it was that after Mary spoke, I shared that James and I were struggling with discouragement. Do you know what these ladies did? They asked James to sit in a chair and they all came around him, laid their hands on him, and prayed for him! Wow! So powerful.
Now, before I go any further, let me make it clear that neither Mary nor I believe in special revelation outside of the scriptures. The scriptures are the Word of God and we should never take away from it or add to it in any way. However, I do believe that God gives us experiences that, under the authority of the Scripture, help to guide our understanding of his will. In the calling of an ordained pastor for example, we commonly seek to discern if a candidate for ministry possesses an “internal call.” We ask him what experiences have moved him toward this call – to tell us how the Holy Spirit has worked in his life. We also seek to find out if others affirm his possible calling as a pastor. Finally, we ask the candidate to testify as to how God has affirmed his call in scripture. Again, all of these things work together to help us discern calling. So, in a corporate sense, I believe that God also uses experiences that, under the authority of the Scripture, help us to discern our particular calling as a church body.
Now, with that said, as SPC moves through the Building Expansion project in front of us, I sense that the Lord might be using Mary and our ladies prayer group to call us to an intentional season of prayer; with particular attention to Ephesians 6:10-20 . I sense that God IS going to use our body of believers at SPC. I feel that he is stretching us, challenging us, maturing us – and even putting us through pain – in order to grow us into the church that he is calling us to be.
Pastor Riddle and I, along with the Session, Mary Withum, the ladies prayer group, and many others, believe that Christ is planning to do remarkable things in and through our church. I believe that as we face this building expansion, we need to be praying. We need to be praying faithfully and specifically. So we would like to ask you to pray together with us in earnest until the completion of this building expansion. Could you prayerfully commit to pray with us the prayer that Ms. Mary placed in my hands yesterday? Again, this prayer is according to the words we read in Ephesians 6:10-20.
The Armor of God: Praying Through Ephesians 6:10-20
(For printable copy of this prayer – Click Here)
Good morning, Lord. Thank you for assuring us of our victory in Christ Jesus today as we follow Your battle plan. By Faith in Christ, we acknowledge and claim the victory that we have over the darkness that covers the Grand Strand and our nation.
To prepare ourselves for the battle ahead by Faith in Christ, we put on the Belt of Truth. This belt of Truth is the Word of God. It is like a belt in that it sheds light on all that is going on around us. It tells us that You are a Sovereign God who knows everything about us, both our strengths, and our weaknesses. So, Your Word is a light to our path and a lamp to our feet. You know our breaking points and you have promised not to allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. Your Word tells us that Christ is our King and that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. We have been set free from the power of sin. It tells us that we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit who will guide us and warn us when danger is near. It tells us that we are your children and nothing can separate us from Your love. Your Word tells us that you have a purpose for us this day —– and that you will lead us to someone to encourage, someone to share with, someone to love.
Next Lord, we want to put on the Breastplate of Your Righteousness. We realize that we have no righteousness of our own, but that we rest in Your Righteousness. Through Your Righteousness, we guard our hearts and our emotions. By your grace, we will not allow our hearts to attach themselves to anything that is idolatrous. We trust you to discipline our emotions from ruling in our decisions. We ask you to set our hearts on what is beautiful and right and good and just. We will live today – not by our own virtue and supposed goodness, but by your goodness and your virtue; not by what our sinful hearts tell us about ourselves and others, but by what your Word tells us about You, Your Righteousness, and what you have done for us!
Lord, this morning we will, by the grace of Christ, put on the Sandals of the Gospel of Peace. Lord, we do not stand by our own merit. We do not stand by our own goodness. We stand because of what you did for us on the Cross. We stand by the shed blood of Christ. So, we are available to You, Lord. Send us where You will. May our feet rush to behold you. May we boldly approach the throne of Grace. May our feet not be afraid of the shadows – as you send us to those who need encouragement or physical help of some kind. Use us to solve conflicts wherever they may arise. Make us a calming presence in every circumstance in which you place us. By your grace, help us to not be hurried or rushed for our schedules are in Your hands. By your grace, help us to not leave a trail of tension and apprehension. Help us to leave tracks of gospel peace and stability everywhere we go. Help us to ask for forgiveness when we have wronged others. Help us repent of our sinful anger that seeks to wage war against our neighbor, instead of against the spiritual powers of this dark world.
And Lord, help us take up of the Shield of Faith. King Christ, you are our Rock and our Shield, for our faith is in You and You alone. Apart from You, we can do nothing. With you, we can do all things. No temptation that comes our way can penetrate Your protecting hand . We will not be afraid, for You are going with us throughout this day. When we are tempted, we will claim the victory that we have in you – and we will proclaim it out loud, ahead of time, for You have promised victory even now. We know there are fiery darts headed our way even as we pray. Yet, you already know every dart and you have already provided the way of escape.
Lord by faith we put on the Helmet of Salvation. Satan bombards our minds day and night with evil thoughts, lies, doubts, and fear. Left to ourselves, we are easy prey to the lies of satan. Yet, we put on the immovable and indestructible and impenetrable helmet of Your Salvation that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We may feel the impact of the enemy’s attacks, but nothing can penetrate this helmet. We trust you to protect us from every impure, idolatrous, and destructive lie that creeps at the door of our minds. With the helmet of Your salvation, those lies will have no lasting power. By your grace, we will dwell on nothing but what is beautiful, true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
Last, we take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. Christ, thank you for the precious gift of Your Word. Your Word is strong and powerful and able to defeat even the strongest of satan’s onslaughts. Your Word says that we are under no obligation to the flesh to obey it’s lusts. Your Word says that the Spirit of Christ is in us and that He is greater than the enemy who is in the world. So by faith, we take up the strong and powerful Sword of the Spirit, which is able to defend us in time of attack, comfort us in time of sorrow, teach us in time of meditation and prevail against the power of the enemy on behalf of others who need the truth of the Gospel to set them free.
So Lord, we now go rejoicing that You have chosen us to represent You in this lost and dying world. May others see Jesus in us, because we see Jesus! Help us to remember that our witness to the world is not our performance for our God, but God’s performance for us. Not that we have reached You, but that you have reached us. Not that we have loved You, but that You have loved us and given Your life as our ransom. So, may satan and his hosts shudder as the power of Your Gospel and Your Presence is made manifest in us.
In Jesus’ name we gracefully ask these mercies…. Amen.