by Bola Olu-Jordan
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The Preacher talks about two great things used for defenses: wisdom and money. "For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense... " (Eccl.7:12). These are great survival tools in the world and the few who have them are celebrated.
There are also spiritual defenses.
Prayer and fasting are not strange words to an average Christian, but many are strangers to them.
The disciples of Jesus came desperately to him one day, and asked Him to teach them how to pray as John taught his disciples (Lk.11:1). They recognized that prayer is an art that must be learned. Jesus taught them 'the Lord's Prayer', which should appropriately be called 'the disciples' prayer'. Whatever it is, he taught them how to pray. That is the first defense of a Christian, prayer.
However, it was time for the disciples to move up to the next level of prayer, which has a price of its own - warfare! They soon discovered that prayer alone was not enough when they tried to heal an epileptic child brought to them for healing, but they could not. They were embarrassed and ashamed. They had prayed for many before with astounding results. In one of such successful prayer sessions, they came running to Jesus with excitement, saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us in thy name" (Luke 10:17). However, this time, the boy did not receive healing from epilepsy until Jesus came and drove it out and the disciples were ashamed of themselves.
Secretly, they came to ask Jesus and asked 'Why could not we cast it out'? (Mk.17:19). Jesus told them: "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29).They discovered that prayer alone is not enough defenses for a Christian, just as money alone is not enough defenses in the world. They are like Siamese twins: money and wisdom, prayer and fasting! The combination must be right for complete result.
However, there is yet a super defense! The concluding part of that verse reveals something more powerful than wisdom and money, or fasting and prayer that cannot be hurriedly ignored - "the excellency of knowledge" (Eccl. 7:12b). Money and wisdom are to an average person, what prayer and fasting are to a Christian - defense. However, without application of knowledge, our defenses can become regrets. Having wisdom without money or fasting without prayer is not the ultimate defense, and having both without the 'Excellency of knowledge' does not guarantee life. Life is the ultimate and the "Excellency of knowledge' is the tool.
When the disciples rejoiced because they cast out demons, Jesus cautioned them not to rejoice on that, but only because their names were written in the book of life in heaven - that is complete life! If our defenses do not give or lead to life (Jesus), they are no better than weapons of mass destruction. Those who have money can use it to oppress and others can use prayer and fasting for personal gains, but the appropriate knowledge of proper application of this leads to life. True wisdom is correct application of knowledge.
God said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos.4:6), not for lack of wisdom, money, prayer or fasting. Money and wisdom are weapons of the world while prayer and fasting are weapons and secrets of believer's power. A prayer-less Christian is a powerless Christian. However, life comes in the correct usage of these things for God and humanity.
Money has wings and flies away to heaven like eagles (Prov.23:5). The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1Cor.3:19) and many times, we pray amiss because we want to use it to meet our lust (Jas.4:3). At this time, money, wisdom and prayer fail. However, one thing that is sure never to fail is when we apply our hearts to knowledge of the proper use of these things. While it is possible for a person to have wisdom, or knowledge or fasting and prayer and still do not have life, another person with one of two of these can have life. It is not what you have; it is what you do with what you have. That is super defense - 'the excellency of knowledge'.
"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov.4:7).
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