As a boy, I admired the confidence and conviction of Muhammad Ali, who is not a Christian but was deeply insightful regarding the mentality of effective fighters. Once, to psych out a challenger for the heavy weight title, Ali said: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster; they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
Applying Ali’s wisdom to the modern-day church—ripe with great preachers and teachers and filled with great writers and singers—we similarly need strong kneeling warriors who have a burning desire to bring the burdens of a hurting world before a loving God in prayer. After the spirit-filled sermon is done and the powerful praise and worship has ended in our churches, what are we really doing for God? I want to be named among that distinguished group of warriors who have both the skill and the will to defeat the enemy’s schemes. That’s why I answered the call to become a kneeling warrior.
And answering the call is far deeper than saying, “I’m going to pray more for myself, my family, my career, and my ministry.” It is about wholly engaging your feelings in the spiritual battle because it has become crystal clear to you that something must be done. Sitting idly by while Satan pillages your family, steals God’s promises from this generation, and destroys humanity’s hope for a just society is too high a price to pay. Becoming a kneeling warrior is the only sound conclusion you can draw from this spiritual dilemma. So, what do you do? You willingly embrace the counsel Paul gave to his spiritual son, Timothy, when he wrote: “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:3). If you limit this verse as private counsel from Paul to Timothy, you miss the essential truth of these powerful words. You must embrace the passage as guidance for your own life such that fighting becomes your choice, and you willingly enlist yourself as an unwavering soldier of Christ Jesus.
Like Muhammad Ali, do you have a desire, dream, or vision? Do you have the stamina—and more importantly, a will that is stronger than skill—to become a champion of prayer? Do you have what it takes to become a kneeling warrior? Before you step foot on the battlefield, your thoughts and feelings must echo the words of the apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Kneeling warriors consciously—even subconsciously—develop the behavior of champions.
A kneeling warrior is emboldened by a passionate reason to fight. No one enters into warfare without a just cause or a feeling of righteous anger. Those feelings become the fuel of persistence when the battle intensifies. What’s driving your passion to become a kneeling warrior? Is it a difficult trial? Are you experiencing some sort of barrenness in your life? Perhaps the deafening cry of humanity bound for a Christ-less eternity has gripped your soul. Kneeling warriors are so personally troubled by pain or the injustices of our fallen society that they take the posture of prayer to tear down strongholds designed by Satan to thwart the purposes of God.
The kneeling warrior enters onto the battlefield of prayer when he realizes that he has skin in the game. There is too much at stake if he does not get a real breakthrough from God. This was the case with Larry, a man who came to Christ after years of living in sexual confusion and sin. Larry longed to feel whole again, but a large cyst on his back—the result of some risqué sexual behavior—was a constant reminder of his past. Doctors had told him that removing it would leave a huge scar.
It’s God’s desire to help everyone experience a breakthrough in prayer. A few years ago, I took Christ Church through Operation Take Back, a 40-day spiritual journey aimed at helping participants reclaim areas of their lives that had been damaged or lost through sin and spiritual neglect.
During Operation Take Back Larry prayed and asked God for a miracle. A few weeks later, during a routine physical, a new doctor told Larry he could remove the growth with no scarring. After the surgery even the doctor was surprised at how completely the area healed. Larry told of God’s faithfulness, saying, “That cyst removal has so many spiritual implications. I’m even more amazed at God’s love for me.” Suffice it to say, Larry became a kneeling warrior because he needed to have all signs of his past sexual brokenness removed. The skin in the game for Larry was seeing God remove the cyst from his back. God did it, and Larry emerged as a kneeling warrior.
Kneeling warriors are made in the crucible of difficulty. These men and women haven’t been born spiritual champions. They didn’t always have power with God. They became spiritual champions by emerging from the belly of trials armed with the newfound mentality of soldiers. And similar to natural fighters, kneeling warriors must win the battle psychologically before they can enter the ring to contend for the prize.
It wasn’t until Hannah rejected her own self-pity and confusion and embraced her passion for having a son that God opened her womb. Samuel, Israel’s great prophet, was in the mind of God since the beginning of time. Yet the nation could not benefit from his gift until his barren mother turned her tears of sorrow into liquid prayers. Before Samuel was naturally conceived, he was birthed in the womb of prayer. The words capturing that precious moment, when Hannah’s liquid prayers were poured out are, “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life’” (1 Sam. 1:11). Hannah’s passion for a son turned her into a kneeling warrior.
By David D. Ireland, Ph.D., Author
Excerpt from The Kneeling Warrior: Winning Your Battles Through Prayer