In the Greco-Roman era, warfare was up-close, sanguinary, and lethal. The Greeks and Romans, who were the masters of warfare, often employed the phalanx—a military formation consisting of rows of heavily armored soldiers with full-body shield and spear. A single soldier who was not in this formation was very vulnerable in battle; the chances of him deserting the battlefield were very high. The phalanx, therefore, was a reassuring source of protection and courage. It was a very simple formation–one simply lined up, with comrades to the left and right–but it proved to be overwhelmingly effective, as this formation allowed Alexander the Great to defeat armies that were over twice their size, taking over the known world.Continue reading
As breathing is essential to the physical body, prayer is essential to the health and well-being of our spiritual bodies. It is the foundation of our faith and our mode of communication with God. However, as we go about our busy lives, we often get caught up in the worries and the pleasures of the world. Prayer often becomes a formality, a ritual, or something we simply need to check off of our To-Do list. We may know that prayer is good for us, but this may simply remain as something we know but do not truly experience. As a result, we may have prayers without direction, prayers that feel long and unfulfilling, or prayers that leave us feeling emptier and further away from God. We may even wonder, “Why pray at all? Does it really help?”
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:13-18)
This passage tells us that not all prayers are the same. Some are more powerful than the others because of the person who is praying. It means that God doesn’t only listen to the words of the prayer, but He also looks at the person who is praying. If the person is righteous before God, his prayer can be just as powerful and effective as that of Elijah who prayed for famine and there was famine, prayed for rain and there was rain. So then the key is the righteousness of the person. But in our Christian living, we may find it hard to do what is right in the eyes of God all the time. We may not commit the mortal sins, but we may daily commit sins that we think are less serious. We unconsciously give the word of God different weights or degree of importance. But in reality, all of God’s word is important and need to be practiced for us to be righteous.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Daniel 6:10)
What was the first thing that Daniel did when heard the decree of King Darius ordering the death of any who petitions any god or man other than the king himself? He went home and prayed to God, thus disobeying the king’s decree. The Bible notes that he did this “as was his custom since early days”, indicating that this was not something new for Daniel to do. In fact, these thrice-daily prayers were his usual spiritual cultivation. And these prayers were so important to Daniel that he deemed them worth defying the king for, so important that they were worth dying for.
This is the day which You have made, Lord.
Help me to rejoice and be glad in it.