There is no question that fathers and men have been under attack for some time now. You can’t get away from it. They are ridiculed and their roles are diminished in popular culture, television, movies, media, and even children’s books where the father or husband is often portrayed as the bumbling idiot at whom everyone either rolls their eyes, shakes their head, or looks upon with pity.
I believe the attacks upon men generally and their roles as fathers and husbands specifically are no accident and are quite deliberate, ultimately originating from the Adversary, who is quite calculating and knows precisely what he is doing.
Everyone knows that if one wants to prevail in a boxing match, body blows are not going to be sufficient to achieve victory in the ring. You eventually have to attack the head. This is also an effective tactic in war. Nothing is as demoralizing or as crippling to the enemy as taking out the officers and leaders of a military campaign. I believe the Adversary understands this strategy better than any one and has been successfully employing it with clinical precision and to great effect from time out of mind, most especially where it counts: in the home and in our religious communities.
My desire is to encourage men, and most especially men who profess to follow the Messiah and embrace Him as their Savior, to suit up and make a firm commitment to stand and hold their ground in this war that is raging all around us, a war that will continue until the Messiah’s return. What I propose is simple. What I propose is nothing new. But what I propose will not be easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and this article would be unnecessary.
I believe this is the most neglected area of a man’s spiritual life and the one which requires the most discipline. Admittedly, and speaking for myself, this has been one of my greatest areas of weakness. I find more excuses for not setting a regular, daily time to pray than anything else.
And I am not talking about some fifteen minute monologue of requests on the way out the door in the morning or “grace before meals.” But a meaningful, concentrated, qualitative and yes, quantitative time of prayer that is meaningful and substantive. A regular, set time, where we will not be interrupted, where we really seek the Lord to better ascertain His will, a time where we will find strength for ourselves so that we can strengthen and better serve those around us.
Jewish tradition has designated set times for prayer three times a day, morning, afternoon, and evening and emphasizes the idea of praying with concentration and right heart intent. We also use a prayer book, or a siddur, which contains daily prayers and prayers for special occasions. I am not saying that the man of the West needs to pray in this tradition, but I would strongly encourage the man of the West to strengthen what I suspect is one of his greatest areas of weakness and begin to discipline himself and shore up his prayer life.
I believe that prayer transforms us and transforms us in ways we can never imagine until we exercise and train ourselves regularly in it.
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. (cf. James 5)
Set aside a regular time for prayer, deep, meaningful and concentrated prayer. What kind of a relationship can you have with the Creator if you never talk to Him? How far do you think you can really go in your own strength? What do you hope to achieve in this life without pouring out your heart and soul before Him, not only on behalf of yourself, but others?
The night He was betrayed and shortly before He was taken away by the authorities, Jesus had been praying and later came to his disciples…
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
It’s a question that can be put to all of us. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” Jesus is right. The spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. Many men find the strength and discipline to get themselves to the gym regularly in order to strengthen their bodies which will become food for worms someday. But what about the health of our souls? Do we dare neglect the health of our souls at this critical hour? Are we really too busy and preoccupied to find one hour to watch with the Savior? Can we really afford not to?
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; (cf. I Timothy 2)
Another critical area where men need to take responsibility is in the regular study and teaching of God’s Word. Fathers and husbands need to take a strong lead in teaching their families the Word of God and to do so as often and as regularly as the Scriptures command us. How regularly? How often? God’s will on this matter has been revealed to us:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (cf. Deuteronomy 6)
Again, simple. There is never a time when we should not be impressing the word of God upon our children and it is the primary responsibility of the fathers and the husbands to do so. It is not your pastor’s responsibility to teach your children or to wash your wife in the Word. It is not the Sunday school teacher’s responsibility. It is not the responsibility of this ministry or that ministry. Vacation Bible School is no substitute and neither is the church.
If God made you a husband, He also made you your wife’s teacher. If God made you a father, He also made you your children’s teacher. Not only that, God equipped you to discharge your duty and teach them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. If you don’t believe you are equipped as you ought to be, do something about it, but do not abdicate and do not neglect your duty to read, to study, and to teach God’s Word to your family.
God’s Word is likened to a sword, which is no coincidence. We are under war and absolutely everything that is true, noble, and right is under an attack by an enemy that is relentless. The only effective weapon we have at the end of the day to combat the vain philosophies and a culture that is perverting every possible thing it can, is the Word of God and we need men who understand how to effectively wield the sword that is His Word. And that does not mean you need to get a Bible degree or become a Billy Graham. You only need to do something that is very simple and yet will require of you something quite difficult:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (cf. II Timothy 2)
Do not call yourself a man of God if you neglect your duty to study and to teach your family the Word of God. Do not call yourself a man of God if you never touch the sword of the Word let alone fail to use it properly and to great effect. The man of God will not abdicate. The man of God will not shirk his duty.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3)
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (cf. Hebrews 10)
There is no shortage of excuses for not participating a formal assembly where people gather together to worship and hear the Word of God. In Christendom this has historically been the church; and for at least the last hundred years or more, who has been the driving force in church attendance? I’ll give you a hint: it has not been the men. And as a result the institution has been dramatically transformed, and not in a positive way. At this particular juncture and in many circles, I do not see this trend being reversed until the Messiah establishes His reign here on earth, but that does not excuse our men from assembling themselves together now.
Find a place to fellowship. Find a place to serve. If you can’t, assemble in your home. Reach out to like-minded believers and find a time to meet regularly, even if it’s only to pray. God did not mean for us to be islands who are isolated from one another. We will not survive long in isolation. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of community and walking out your faith in community.
It’s not about finding the perfect place. The perfect pastor or minister. The perfect community. They don’t exist, and if you ever do find one, stay out of it, because you’re sure to screw it up. The Bible describes God’s people as a body that functions together to accomplish His will and serve one another. And that’s really the key: service. It’s our sole purpose for being here. It’s what Jesus said makes us great in His kingdom, to be the servant of everyone around you, and it is impossible to serve others when you’re determined to live in isolation or as a lone ranger.
Have you been burned? So have I. Have you been deeply hurt? So have I. More times than I can count or care to remember. So was David. So was Moses. And to that I say, so what? How was the Son of Man treated when He was walking among us for a time? How was He treated by His own? Have any of us come remotely close to experiencing all that He endured? We were never promised an easy time of it in this world. We were never promised that we would always be treated well for His name’s sake.
Anyone can be a critic and anyone can find fault, especially when he’s always looking for it. The simple answer here is that we need to stop serving ourselves and start giving of ourselves and stop worrying about who notices or how much appreciation we receive or don’t receive.
You are going to be mistreated, even by those who are professing Christians. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and make a commitment to bloom where God has planted you and stop using the weeds as an excuse to neglect your service to Him and others. And the men are the ones who need to lead the way and set the agenda; the women need only get out the way and get on board with the agenda.
A Few Good Men
God just needs a few good men who are committed to simple principles. The Scriptures say it was a few good men who were responsible for turning the world upside down in the first century. Ordinary and largely unlearned men. Men who prayed. Men who studied and taught. Men who did not neglect the assembling of themselves together. Men who were used by God to accomplish the impossible and unimaginable.
Since that time, the world has never been the same.