A Prehistoric Conflict

A Prehistoric Conflict.

In its simplest meaning prayer has to do with a conflict. Rightly

understood it is the deciding factor in a spirit conflict. The scene of

the conflict is the earth. The purpose of the conflict is to decide the

control of the earth, and its inhabitants. The conflict runs back into the

misty ages of the creation time.

The rightful prince of the earth is Je
us, the King's Son. There is a

pretender prince who was once rightful prince. He was guilty of a breach

of trust. But like King Saul, after his rejection and David's anointing in

his place, he has been and is trying his best by dint of force to hold the

realm and oust the rightful ruler.

The rightful Prince is seeking by utterly different means, namely by

persuasion, to win the world back to its first allegiance. He had a fierce

set-to with the pretender, and after a series of victories won the great

victory of the resurrection morning.

There is one peculiarity of this conflict making it different from all

others; namely, a decided victory, and the utter vanquishing of the

leading general has not stopped the war. And the reason is remarkable. The

Victor has a deep love-ambition to win, not merely against the enemy, but

_into men's hearts, by their free consent_. And so, with marvellous

love-born wisdom and courage, the conflict is left open, for men's sake.

It is a spirit conflict. The earth is swung in a spirit atmosphere. There

are unnumbered thousands of spirit beings good and evil, tramping the

earth's surface, and filling its atmosphere. They are splendidly organized

into two compact organizations.

Man is a spirit being; an embodied spirit being. He has a body and a mind.

He is a spirit. His real conflicts are of the spirit sort; in the spirit

realm, with other spirit beings.

Satan is a spirit being; an unembodied spirit being. That is, unembodied,

save as in much cunning, with deep, dark purpose he secures embodiment in

human beings.

The only sort of power that influences in the spirit realm is _moral_

power. By which is not meant _goodness_, but that sort of power either bad

or good which is not of a physical sort: that higher, infinitely higher

and greater power than the mere physical. Moral power is the opposite of

violent or physical power.

God does not use force, violent physical force. There are some exceptions

to this statement. There have been righteous wars, righteous on one side.

Turning to the Bible record, in emergencies, in extreme instances God has

ordered war measures. The nations that Israel was told to remove by the

death of war would have inevitably worn themselves out through their

physical excesses, and disobedience of the laws of life. But a wide view

of the race revealed an emergency which demanded a speedier movement. And

as an exception, for the sake of His plan for the ultimate saving of a

race, and a world, God gave an extermination order. The emergency makes

the exception. There is one circumstance under which the taking of human

life is right, namely, when it can be clearly established that God the

giver and sovereign of life has so directed. But the rule clearly is that

God does not use force.

But note sharply in contrast with this that physical force is one of

Satan's chief weapons. But mark there two intensely interesting facts:

first, he can use it only as he secures man as his ally, and uses it

through him. And, second, in using it he has with great subtlety sought to

shift the sphere of action. He knows that in the sphere of spirit force

pure and simple he is at a disadvantage: indeed, worse yet, he is

defeated. For there is a moral force on the other side greater than any at

his command. The forces of purity and righteousness he simply _can_not

withstand. Jesus is the personification of purity and righteousness. It

was on this moral ground, in this spirit sphere that He won the great

victory. He ran a terrific gauntlet of tests, subtle and fierce, through

those human years, and came out victor with His purity and righteousness


Prayer is Projecting One's Spirit Personality.

Now prayer is a spirit force, it has to do wholly with spirit beings and

forces. It is an insistent claiming, by a man, an embodied spirit being,

down on the contested earth, that the power of Jesus' victory over the

great evil-spirit chieftain shall extend to particular lives now under his

control. The prayer takes on the characteristic of the man praying. He is

a spirit being. It becomes a spirit force. It is a projecting into the

spirit realm of his spirit personality. Being a spirit force it has

certain qualities or characteristics of unembodied spirit beings. An

unembodied spirit being is not limited by space as we embodied folk are.

It can go as swiftly as we can think. If I want to go to London it will

take at least a week's time to get my body through the intervening space.

But I can think myself into London more quickly than I can say the words,

and be walking down the Strand. Now a spirit being can go as quickly as I

can think.

Further, spirit beings are not limited by material obstructions such as

the walls of this building. When I came in here to-day I came in by this

door. You all came in by these doors. We were obliged to come in either by

doors or windows. But the spirit beings who are here listening to us, and

deeply concerned with our discussion did not bother with the doors. They

came in through the walls, or the roof, if they were above us, or through

the floor here, if they happened to be below this level.

Prayer has these qualities of spirit beings of not being limited by space,

or by material obstacles. Prayer is really projecting my spirit, that is,

my real personality to the spot concerned, and doing business there with

other spirit beings. For example there is a man in a city on the Atlantic

seaboard for whom I pray daily. It makes my praying for him very tangible

and definite to recall that every time I pray my prayer is a spirit force

instantly traversing the space in between him and me, and going without

hindrance through the walls of the house where he is, and influencing the

spirit beings surrounding him, and so influencing his own will.

When it became clear to me some few years ago that my Master would not

have me go yet to those parts of the earth where the need is greatest, a

deep tinge of disappointment came over me. Then as I realized the wisdom

of His sovereignty in service, it came to me anew that I could exert a

positive influence in those lands for Him by prayer. As many others have

done, I marked out a daily schedule of prayer. There are certain ones for

whom I pray by name, at certain intervals. And it gives great simplicity

to my faith, and great gladness to my heart to remember that every time

such prayer is breathed out, my spirit personality is being projected

yonder, and in effect I am standing in Shanghai, and Calcutta and Tokyo in

turn and pleading the power of Jesus' victory over the evil one there, and

on behalf of those faithful ones standing there for God.

It is a fiercely contested conflict. Satan is a trained strategist, and an

obstinate fighter. He refuses to acknowledge defeat until he must. It is

the fight of his life. Strange as it must seem, and perhaps absurd, he

apparently hopes to succeed. If we knew all, it might seem less strange

and absurd, because of the factors on his side. There is surely much down

in the world of the sort which we can fully appreciate to give colour to

his expectations. Prayer is insisting upon Jesus' victory, and the retreat

of the enemy on each particular spot, and heart and problem concerned.

The enemy yields only what he must. He yields only what is taken.

Therefore the ground must be taken step by step. Prayer must be definite.

He yields only when he must. Therefore the prayer must be persistent. He

continually renews his attacks, therefore the ground taken must be _held_

against him in the Victor's name. This helps to understand why prayer

must be persisted in after we have full assurance of the result, and even

after some immediate results have come, or, after the general results have

commenced coming.

Giving God a Fresh Footing.

The Victor's best ally in this conflict is the man, who while he remains

down on the battle-field, puts his life in full touch with his

Saviour-Victor, and then incessantly, insistently, believingly claims

_victory in Jesus' name_. He is the one foe among men whom Satan cannot

withstand. He is projecting an irresistible spirit force into the spirit

realm. Satan is obliged to yield. We are so accustomed through history's

long record to seeing victories won through force, physical force, alone,

that it is difficult for us to realize that moral force defeats as the

other never can. Witness the demons in the gospels, and in modern days in

China,[2] clearly against their own set purpose, notwithstanding intensest

struggle on their part obliged to admit defeat, and even to ask favours of

their Conqueror. The records of personal Christian service give

fascinating instances of fierce opposition utterly subdued and individuals

transformed through such influence.

Had we eyes to see spirit beings and spirit conflicts we would constantly

see the enemy's defeat in numberless instances through the persistent

praying of some one allied to Jesus in the spirit of his life. Every time

such a man prays it is a waving of the red-dyed flag of Jesus Christ above

Satan's head in the spirit world. Every such man who freely gives himself

over to God, and gives himself up to prayer is giving God a new spot in

the contested territory on which to erect His banner of victory.

The Japanese struggled for weeks to get a footing on the Port Arthur

peninsula, even after the naval victories had practically rendered Russia

helpless on the seas. It was an unusual spectacle to witness such

difficulty in getting a landing after such victories. But with the bulldog

tenacity that has marked her fighting Japan fought for a footing. Nothing

could be done till a footing was gotten.

Prayer is man giving God a footing on the contested territory of this

earth. The man in full touch of purpose with God praying, insistently

praying--that man is God's footing on the enemy's soil. The man wholly

given over to God gives Him a new sub-headquarters on the battle-field

from which to work out. And the Holy Spirit within that man, on the new

spot, will insist on the enemy's retreat in Jesus the Victor's name. That

is prayer. Shall we not, every one of us, increase God's footing down upon

His prodigal earth!