Now prayer is a spirit force, it has to do wholly with spirit beings and forces. It is an insistent claiming, by a man, an embodied spirit being, down on the contested earth, that the power of Jesus' victory over the great evil-spirit chieftain shall extend to particular lives now under his control. The prayer takes on the characteristic of the man praying. He is a spirit being. It becomes a spirit force. It is a projecting into the spirit realm of his spirit personality.
Being a spirit force it has certain qualities or characteristics of unembodied spirit beings. An unembodied spirit being is not limited by space as we embodied folk are. It can go as swiftly as we can think. If I want to go to London it will take at least a week's time to get my body through the intervening space. But I can think myself into London more quickly than I can say the words, and be walking down the Strand. Now a spirit being can go as quickly as I can think.
Further, spirit beings are not limited by material obstructions such as the walls of this building. When I came in here to-day I came in by this door. You all came in by these doors. We were obliged to come in either by doors or windows. But the spirit beings who are here listening to us, and deeply concerned with our discussion did not bother with the doors. They came in through the walls, or the roof, if they were above us, or through the floor here, if they happened to be below this level.
Prayer has these qualities of spirit beings of not being limited by space, or by material obstacles. Prayer is really projecting my spirit, that is, my real personality to the spot concerned, and doing business there with other spirit beings. For example there is a man in a city on the Atlantic seaboard for whom I pray daily. It makes my praying for him very tangible and definite to recall that every time I pray my prayer is a spirit force instantly traversing the space in between him and me, and going without hindrance through the walls of the house where he is, and influencing the spirit beings surrounding him, and so influencing his own will.
When it became clear to me some few years ago that my Master would not have me go yet to those parts of the earth where the need is greatest, a deep tinge of disappointment came over me. Then as I realized the wisdom of His sovereignty in service, it came to me anew that I could exert a positive influence in those lands for Him by prayer. As many others have done, I marked out a daily schedule of prayer. There are certain ones for whom I pray by name, at certain intervals. And it gives great simplicity to my faith, and great gladness to my heart to remember that every time such prayer is breathed out, my spirit personality is being projected yonder, and in effect I am standing in Shanghai, and Calcutta and Tokyo in turn and pleading the power of Jesus' victory over the evil one there, and on behalf of those faithful ones standing there for God.
It is a fiercely contested conflict. Satan is a trained strategist, and an obstinate fighter. He refuses to acknowledge defeat until he must. It is the fight of his life. Strange as it must seem, and perhaps absurd, he apparently hopes to succeed. If we knew all, it might seem less strange and absurd, because of the factors on his side. There is surely much down in the world of the sort which we can fully appreciate to give colour to his expectations. Prayer is insisting upon Jesus' victory, and the retreat of the enemy on each particular spot, and heart and problem concerned.
The enemy yields only what he must. He yields only what is taken. Therefore the ground must be taken step by step. Prayer must be definite. He yields only when he must. Therefore the prayer must be persistent. He continually renews his attacks, therefore the ground taken must be held against him in the Victor's name. This helps to understand why prayer must be persisted in after we have full assurance of the result, and even after some immediate results have come, or, after the general results have commenced coming.