The term “Rules of Engagement typically applies to the military. You might ask yourself, why would Doug write an article about the military and prayer?
2 Corinthians 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
2 Timothy 2:1-4 You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
Have you ever considered yourself enlisted as a soldier? Have you ever wondered why God would use this terminology towards his sons and daughters? Ephesians 6 sheds more light on this fact that we are in some kind of battle.
Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
This scripture tells US to put on the full armor of God. He doesn’t say that the armor is automatically on. What is the purpose of the armor? The armor gives us the ability to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. The phrase “stand firm against” is very key to me. That shows that there is some effort on our part to withstand the schemes of the devil.
I’ll be honest with you. In my early years of being a Christian, I really believed that once I was born again, God was going to take care of everything concerning the devil. After all, Jesus triumphed over the devil on our behalf. Jesus also indicated before his final ascension into heaven that he had all authority in heaven and in the earth which gave me the impression that as long as we were kind to people and lived uprightly, God would take care of the devil and his schemes. I have learned that this is partly true. Ultimately it is through God’s power that we overcome the devil. However, how we access and wield God’s power requires something from us.
Here is a dictionary definition of Rules of Engagement –
Rules of Engagement (ROE), military directives meant to describe the circumstances under which ground, naval, and air forces will enter into and continue combat with opposing forces. Formally, rules of engagement refer to the orders issued by a competent military authority that delineate when, where, how, and against whom military force may be used, and they have implications for what actions soldiers may take on their own authority and what directives may be issued by a commanding officer. Rules of engagement are part of a general recognition that procedures and standards are essential to the conduct and effectiveness of civilized warfare.
I would say that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are competent military authorities. They tell us when, where and how and against whom we should use our military force. For the sake of this article, the force of the military is prayer.
Another phrase I wanted to point out is that Rules of Engagement explain what actions a soldier can take on their own authority.
Have you noticed in the Book of Acts, the apostles and some Christians did some miracles and didn’t pray to God to do the miracle? It was as if they knew ahead of time that they had some authority already predetermined and they just took action. Peter and John healed a lame man just by commanding him to stand up. They used the “name of Jesus” because they had been given permission by Jesus to make this command.
Paul did the same thing with a dead man and a lame man. Consider when a viper clung to Paul and he didn’t say a word! He just shook the viper into a campfire and the venom had no impact.
On the other hand, we do find Peter having a conversation with God regarding a vision he had. We see the leaders of the church fasting and praying for Peter to be safe while he was imprisoned. We see leaders of the church praying for guidance when more Gentiles were being born again. We also see praying for direction where to go next to share the gospel and who should be commissioned to go with whom. These prayer styles are more typical of what we think “prayer” should look like.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
Let’s pick apart two phrases: “all prayer” and “in the Spirit.” When you read “all” prayer, you might think that is a strange phrase? What does it mean “all prayer”. Praying is praying, right? Look at two translations of 1Timothy 2 and a version of Phillippians 4. These scriptures provide clarity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (NASB)
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (NKJV)
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
These scriptures indicate that there are different kinds of communications with God that have different rules of engagement. There are prayers in general but there are also supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks that all play a role in removing anxiety as well as having an impact on our nation and the world. The phrase “in the Spirit” refers to the Spirit of God who is also called the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our commander and chief of prayer.
If there are different rules for different kinds of prayers, we should learn them. Why is this important? Because God needs us! Remember in my last few posts, we see how God desires to partner with his Church to bring about some of his purposes on the earth. In fact, he declares that somethings will not happen without human participation.
It reminds me of these three scriptures:
Hebrews 10:12-13 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
James 4:6-7 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
1 Peter 5:7-9 casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
Jesus is waiting on whom to make his enemies his footstool? Who is supposed to take on the devil when he approaches? US! We are to resist! One key question I will address in my next post is what specifically did Jesus win for us. It is clear that the devil is still released to inflict harm and seeks to devour us. Therefore we must learn how to resist and in what manner as well as what God will do and what He is waiting for us to do. We must learn the Rules of Engagement for prayer.