Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12 NIV
If I were a pastor, I would make seeing the movie “War-Room” mandatory for all members of the congregation—which is probably one very good reason God has not made me a Pastor.
But, it’s a superb movie.
The premise is that spiritual battles are won through prayer.
And for that, the movie gets an AMEN! Make that, underline, italic, bold, all caps. AMEN!!
In the movie, the main character’s spiritual battle is for her marriage, but I’d like to take that a bit further.
As Christians, we fight a spiritual battle every day.
Whether it’s resisting temptation, maintaining good and godly relationships, doing our jobs to the glory of God, living lives that are salt and light to the world, or having the courage to witness to others, we all face spiritual battles.
But one thing we seem to have forgotten is that wars are not fought one-on-one.
No, in a real war, armies go up against each other.
There may be some hand-to-hand combat and certainly the fate of any fighting force rests with the individual soldiers, but Generals do not send their troops out as individuals.
Even snipers do not travel alone.
Soldiers are sent out as platoons, companies, brigades, regiments, patrols, etc.
And one of the core, hard and fast rules of the military is, “No soldier left behind.” You never leave your buddy to die in a muddy ditch alone so you can run away.
But, that seems like exactly what a lot of us Christians are doing.
We see the events of the day unfolding and we are disheartened. When some hate-filled Wiccan shoots Christians in the head because they are Christians and the media ignores it, then later tries to claim that’s not really what happened, we feel like we’ve lost a battle.
When the president makes it about a political cause before the bodies are even cold and justifies it by saying prayer is not enough, we curl up in our muddy trench all alone and mutter something about “end times.”
See, that’s the purpose of terrorism.
That’s how the enemy works. He strikes a blow like a kamikaze that’s specifically designed to generate a lot of attention (a.k.a “media coverage”) that will dishearten us and cause us to live in fear, because when we are afraid, we are a wholly ineffective fighting force.
Well, I will not be afraid.
And, let us be crystal clear here—the real enemy is NOT other people.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)
The real enemy is the enemy of our souls who uses lies to steal and kill and destroy.
It is the lies the real enemy puts in the minds of other people that are his weapons. That’s why the Bible says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 NIV)
So, how do we do that? What are our weapons? How do we demolish arguments and every pretension?
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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 6:13-17 NIV)
So, we put on the full armor of God and we PRAY!
And do we go into battle alone?
All throughout the Old Testament, the people of Israel came together for group prayer, repentance, and fasting when they sought the Lord. Esther 4:16 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 Ezra 8:21 Isaiah 56:7
And in the New Testament, the Apostles regularly came together in group prayer. They even delegate duties to others to focus on corporate prayer. Acts 6:4
Jesus himself says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18: 19-20 ESV)
So, we need to come together, fast, and pray. There are battles every day. And, while great victories can be won in our individual prayer closets for our personal battles, societal battles are won in corporate prayer. As I’ve written in the previous two blogs, many miracles, Awakenings, and wholesale spiritual changes of whole countries have come as a result of corporate prayer.
And, yes, while godlessness and lawlessness will increase before Jesus comes back one final time, that is no reason to give up and cower in a muddy trench all alone. In fact, it’s all the more reason to gather together in prayer in order to bring as many people to Christ as one possibly can before it’s too late to do anything about it.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4: 13-14 NIV)