Are There Any Ink Blotches on Your Wall?
“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-21
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we acknowledge the reality of the spiritual world here with us, every bit as real as the material world we see, feel, and smell. The material world is too often our default mentality and reality. Yet it is a dangerous thing to discredit or ignore the spiritual world as though it is not there. Martin Luther, frustrated with Satan’s interference and attacks, one day threw his ink well at him. He managed to put a large blotch of ink on the wall of his room. Moses left Egypt with his people, not fearing the king’s anger or power, because he saw Him, the Lord, who is invisible. When Elisha’s home city was surrounded by the horses, chariots and army of a king who wished to dispose of him, Elisha prayed for the eyes of his fearful servant to be opened. Then the servant saw what Elisha saw: horses and chariots of fire protecting them, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:15-18) In the beginning of Job Satan presents himself before the Lord and the Lord asks him “Where have you come from?” and Satan answers, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Paul warns us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
We are too quickly on to, “Give us this day our daily bread,” (which in all its various forms of “bread” makes up the bulk of our prayers) before we have fully appreciated the importance of praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth (in me, in my life, in my world), as it is in heaven.” We might ask, “Where is heaven?” or “Where is the Lord?” or “Where do these spiritual beings, like angels or demons, live?” Where indeed are those who have died and left our visible presence? Hebrews 12:1 , interpreted variously, nevertheless says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” There is just too much in Scripture for us to ignore the presence of a spiritual world, a spiritual reality, right among us. And coming up against the “prince of the power of the air,” “the rulers of darkness,” ” the spiritual forces of evil” is the kingdom of God. Were we to fully appreciate what has not been exactly hidden from us, even though it is a spiritual, “invisible” realm, our praying would be more frequent, more fervent, more on target, more articulate, and I dare say, more effectual, than if we remain in a fog living blind to the spiritual world’s reality, and the kingdom of God; a kingdom which is presently our home by virtue of faith in its King (Colossians 1:13), and yet also our future hope (Matthew 25:34).
We live in a spiritual reality every bit as much as a physical one. Our prayers must reflect that. We are never alone. How can we escape from God’s presence (Psalm 139)? Nor are we ever out of the gun sights of the enemy (I Peter 5:8). We cannot rest from warfare anymore than a soldier can let down his guard in a battle zone. Consequently, we cannot rest from prayer. If our spiritual eyes are open to see the full reality of life and this war, who would want to be out of touch with our Lifeline; the resource, the power, the protection, the hope, that alone assures another day and another day and another day and eventually victory? Paul’s encouragement to pray without ceasing, seems I am sure, tedious and somewhat overblown. But, by the God of heaven and earth, it is not! Not if you see Him who is invisible, the spiritual battlefield in which you exist and survive by grace, the enemy who seeks to devour you, with his army of demons, and the host of the Lord’s army who do His bidding for you every moment. If you can indeed see that ever more clearly, you will cry out incessantly, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!”
“Open my eyes, Lord, to the reality around me. Lift the fog and let me see the battle and the enemy. But mostly, let me see You and your kingdom.”
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