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Nov 29, 2020

Renewing Spiritual Passion through Warfare Praying

Passage: James 5:17-18

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Renewing Our Spiritual Passion

Keywords: prayer, elijah, war, spiritual warfare, renewal, faith journey


This third in a series of four messages on "Renewing Your Spiritual Passion" is a continuation of the first message from James 5. God points to Elijah as a man just like us who learned through a lifetime of prayer and faith challenges to wage war in the spiritual realm for the revival of his nation sinking into the depths of sinful idolatry. What a timely word for the church in our nation today!


Renewing Your Spiritual Passion…

through Warfare Praying

James 5 & I Kings 17-19—November 29, 2020

  • Anybody here like war?
  • Why?
  • Who here has actually lived through war on the front lines?
  • What does war do to people who live through its trauma?


  • A family in town whose father served in the front lines of 3 separate WWII campaigns…and came home 100% emotionally disabled.
  • A brother who comes to our Thursday morning prayer every week (from another church) who served in the front lines of the Vietnam War and saw horrible things.

Some quotes by civilians who have experienced war: 

  • "War trauma leaves physical marks."
  • "War is hell... it has an impact on the people who take part that never heals."
  • "War is terrible and beyond the understanding and experience of most people."

In a study of civilians who have survived the war in Afghanistan

Of the respondents who had reported experiencing at least 4 trauma events during the previous 10 years:

  • Symptoms of depression were found in 7%.
  • Symptoms of anxiety in 2%,
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 42%.

Those numbers are mirrored or worse in places like Uganda, Shri Lanka, Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Chechnya, Cambodia, Vietnam & the Balkans.  

Q:  How many here believe we as the church of Jesus Christ are in a spiritual war these days? 

Let’s face it:  nobody likes a war.  Nobody looks forward to war.  Nobody wants to be a “casualty of war” or see anyone else die in battle. 

But Paul warned us that when we surrendered our lives to Him, we also signed up for a war. 

  • 2 Cor. 10:3-4—Don’t wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not natural/worldly but divine.
  • I Tim. 1:18—wage the good warfare
  • I Tim. 6:12—fight the good fight of faith
  • Our future with Christ: 17:14; 19:11, 19; 
  • 13:7—Satan will be given authority to wage war against the saints and overcome them.

I’m returning to a passage we were in 3 weeks ago—James 5:17-18.  It’s about “fervent praying”…warfare praying. 

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

            Elijah, by the way, is mentioned more times in the N.T. than any other O.T. prophet.  John the Baptist is said to both come in the spirit of Elijah as well as BE a modern-day Elijah partially fulfilling the prophecies about the coming Messiah.  Elijah appears with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration.  And Jesus said he would have a future role in Christ’s return as well.

            But before we look a little closer at Elijah, let’s focus first on the two words used here for “prayed fervently” and “prayed” (vss. 17 & 18).  Both are pretty common words from the same root Greek word for prayer (Gk: proseuche/proseuxomai) used over 90 times in the N.T.  But a simple word study will show you just how serious and intense the kind of prayer James says Elijah engaged in was.  Here are a few examples of this kind of prayer:

  • Mark 9:29—Jesus said that the particular demon being dealt with could not be driven out by anything but prayer.
  • Luke 6:12—Jesus continued in this kind of praying “all night” (also Mt. 14:23; Lk. 5:16; Mk. 1:35)
  • Luke 9:28—what happened when Jesus to Peter, James and John to the Mount of Transfiguration for a prayer session… and Moses & Elijah broke out!
  • Luke 18:1ff—the parable of the Persistent Widow that Jesus told his disciples “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
  • Luke 22—The kind of agonizing, sleep-depriving prayer Jesus engaged in all night long in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion (see Mt. 26:36, 39, 41, 42, 44)
  • Acts 1:14—the kind of pre-Pentecost praying the 120 did in the Upper Room waiting for the Holy Spirit after Jesus had ascended.
  • Acts 2:42—the kind of devoted prayer the early church did when they were first beginning in Jerusalem.
  • Acts 12:5—the all-night prayer meeting the church in Jerusalem was having for Peter and his release from prison and possible death.
  • 6:18—“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayers and supplications…keeping alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
  • Colossians 4:2“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving.”
  • 4:12—the kind of praying Epaphras did for the Colossian church—“…always wrestling in prayer for you….”
  • I Timothy 5:5—speaks of widows who devote themselves to “continued supplication and prayer night and day.”

So we can say this kind of praying is continual, persistent, sometimes agonizing, sleep-depriving, involves struggling, steadfast, intense, hours-long and “fervent” as James says.      

APP:  Do you see why God keeps calling all of us to grow in our prayer life?  The Apostles didn’t learn this kind of praying with one story or one sermon from Jesus.  They saw him model this over and over again until they got hungry enough to ask Jesus, “Please, teach us to pray!” 

            Without this kind of praying, we will not be prepared for the battle that is coming.  It won’t be enough for us to know about it, to listen to sermons about it, to say, “Yes, I’ll start praying like that someday.”  It will be too late “someday.”  NOW is the hour of learning to pray like this.  NOW is our time to take our place with the saints of old and learn warfare praying, learn passionate, earnest praying. 

            Most of us won’t learn that kind of praying alone.  It will take shared prayer meetings.  Like Andrew said last week about passionate worship—start where you are and start building up your prayer ‘muscles’.  Don’t start with an all-night prayer vigil.  Start with 10 minutes/day in the solitude of your room.  Start with getting on your knees for 5 minutes/day.  Start with coming to mid-week prayer on Wed. or Thur. 1/month.  Start with praying with your spouse 3 times a week.  But by all means START!