Many view prayer as primarily a happy time of pleasant communion with Jesus Christ who is viewed as a best friend and family member. This one-dimensional view of Jesus belies the fact that He is the Commander in Chief of God’s army and is currently managing strategy for the greatest war in the history of creation.
A theme that underlies the entire ministry of Jesus Christ is the apocalyptic assumption that God is battling Satan for all creation and the souls of all mankind. Jesus understood himself to be the one in whom this battle was to be played out in a decisive way. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and establish God’s domain. By the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, all creation was redeemed from the bondage of evil and each soul was offered redemption from the bondage of sin. But Satan was not a willing seller and is at war with God to retain possession. The outcome of the struggle was completely decided by the substitutionary atonement; yet few would claim Jesus has already restored and repossessed his corrupted creation. The world, at every level, is at war. Christians are on the front lines of this Great War between good and evil whether we like it or not. As we stand side by side with Jesus in this war, the suffering of the Christian soldier has a meaning and value to God commensurate with this titanic spiritual struggle of the ages.
The followers of Jesus occasionally glimpsed the warrior side of His personality and they were afraid (Mark 10:32). Oswald Chambers calls this the ‘discipline of dismay’ which can appear suddenly in a life of discipleship. Here is Chambers' perspective:
“There is an aspect of Jesus that chills the heart of a disciple to the core and makes the whole spiritual life gasp for breath. This strange Being with His face set like flint and His striding determination, strikes terror into me. He is no longer Counsellor and Comrade, He is taken up with a point of view I know nothing about, and I am amazed at Him. At first I was confident that I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize there is a distance between Jesus Christ and me; I can no longer be familiar with Him. He is ahead of me and He never turns round; I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely far off…The discipline of dismay is essential in the life of discipleship… When the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come that following of Jesus which is an unspeakable joy.”