We watched the Lego Ninjago movie (again) recently. It’s a pretty out there film but it’s great fun, and the kids liked it too.
Lego Ninjago Movie
It’s set in a fictional world, obviously, where a city, called Ninjago, is under constant threat and regular attacks by a crazed, comical, bad guy. The city is protected by a band of teenage ninjas with incredible machines that mean, inevitably, they can fend off any given attack with relative ease. But one day, a new, more powerful villain attacks Ninjago and the young ninjas realise that they aren’t powerful enough in themselves to defeat their new foe.
But then they hear tell of an ultimate ultimate weapon – one sure to give them victory over the new ruler of Ninjago; but they’ll have to go on a perilous journey to find it. The journey is fraught with danger and they nearly die on a number of occasion and –
SPOILER ALERT – they never actually find an ultimate ultimate weapon.
But what they do find, on their journey, is that the power they needed was in their possession all along – it was theirs; they just couldn’t see it. They already had the ultimate ultimate weapon; once they realised, they were unstoppable!
The Christian Armour
We’re taught in scripture to look at the Christian life in different ways; a journey, a race, but also a battle. We often turn to Ephesians Chapter 6 for encouragement in the face of difficulty. Here, the apostle Paul, writing a letter to the Ephesians, is under house arrest. He was being watched 24/7 by an elite Roman guard – the best of the best in the ancient world. He’s faced with this perfect analogy – a picture story of how Christians can prepare themselves for the battle using the armour worn by this Roman soldier. Helmet of Salvation, belt of truth and so on – defensive elements and ways we can defend ourselves too. He then gives us the offensive weapon of the Sword of the Spirit, the word of God. It’s fantastic! Read it again if you haven’t in a while!
The Ultimate Weapon
But I believe we often stop there, because Paul’s picture of the armour stops there. But read the next verse – he says:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Ephesians 6:18
He then urges them to pray for him also. There were no field communications at the time, for obvious reasons; no way of fitting prayer into to his neat analogy. Like all good analogies, it had its limits – so he just tells them to do it – this other offensive weapon in the battle at our disposal – our ultimate, ultimate weapon.
Did Paul come up with this idea? That we have complete, unfettered access to the creator of the universe where we can pray, in his power and inspiration with all kinds of requests? Of course, he didn’t!
Jesus in Prayer
Jesus modelled a life soaked in prayer.
- He withdrew and prayed all night;
- he offered up short prayers of thanksgiving;
- and poured out his heart in emotional distress in his darkest hour.
- You can even read a lengthy prayer in John 17 where he prays for you!
And it was infectious – His disciples wanted in on this and asked him ‘teach us’. They saw how fundamental it was – Jesus taught them the Lord’s prayer.
In Matthew, Jesus gives further instructions about going into your room and praying to your father – praying is part of living life the Jesus way.
But there’s more – and this is where we start to see some of the topics we’ve been looking at in this series come together – listen to Jesus words to us in John 15:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.John 15:1-8
How many different ways to Jesus need to say it!?
Remain in me – live your life intimate and growing with me – the vine, the source and you the branch.
All the things we’ve been talking about: Sabbath, Word, being alone with God, knowing and growing in the Holy Spirit, are all ways of remaining in Jesus, of being attached to the vine, the source.
Not out on a limb or detached by yourself – learn this passage – without Him we can do NOTHING!.
And THEN he says your destiny is bearing fruit for the kingdom – live giving abundant fruit in your life and the lives of others – renewal, transformation – heaven on earth. And right in the heart of what he says is prayer – ask anything and it will be done for you. What a promise!
How is your prayer life? How is my prayer life!? Do we see it as a vital part of Christian life? Do we set time aside? There are loads of ways we can grow in prayer, ways we can help ourselves pray. Be it prayer diaries, APPS on your phone, praying regularly with others. Praying on all occasions, in all sorts of ways like Paul taught – thanksgiving, confession, in desperation – praying for other people, whole nations – lifting to God your anxieties, your hopes, your dreams.
Let’s hear the words of Jesus, let’s live life the way he did – he wants us to bear fruit – he set you aside for it; the very stuff of heaven, here on earth! And, as awesome as you are – apart from HIM you can do NOTHING.
He wants us to remain close to him – to lean into the life giving vine – through resting in him, being in his word – all the things we’ve already talked about – but also, through PRAYER, all occasions, all sorts of ways.
Prayer – it’s our ultimate ultimate weapon and you have it, right now, at your disposal.