Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, … And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
(Eph. 6:10-13, 18)
I still find it shocking that most of our pastors and lay leaders are uncomfortable and unwilling to discuss the subjects of Satan and spiritual warfare. As my friend Jack Taylor says, “Most of the Christian world seems to have taken a vow of silence on these matters.” What else can explain the paralysis of spiritual death that grips so many congregations, despite well-educated and well-organized pastors, trained staff, attractive buildings, the latest in technology and a commitment to building a sound spiritual body?
Why is there in so many of our churches a numbness and drowsiness concerning what we are about, where we should go and how we are to get there? And when someone tries to focus, there come a dozen differing responses that send the leaders into confusion and often division. In such a vacuum it is easy for rifts to take place, strong-willed leaders to get into power and church politics to become an offensive odor throughout the whole community. In such discouraging circumstances, the tendency on the part of the leadership is to rally their natural strengths to fight against “flesh and blood.” Satan will do almost anything to keep pastors and teachers and evangelists and prophets from discovering the need for true spiritual warfare. One of his most effective strategies is to keep them preoccupied with administration, counseling, meetings, visitation and putting out the fires of opposition so that every day is almost prayerless. Such otherwise intelligent leaders never dream that they are themselves already casualties in a spiritual war.
Someone has got to sound the word that the Church of Jesus Christ is called to enforce the mighty victory that Christ won over Satan and his kingdom of evil at Calvary. Until Jesus returns to actually destroy Satan, the Church is given authority to discern his strategies, disclose his purposes, deny his power, defeat his operations and deliver his captives. Let the followers of Christ realize that since Calvary and the Empty Tomb, Satan does not have unlimited power on planet earth. We who are filled with the Holy Spirit, clad in His armor and given to a ministry of intercessory prayer are called to resist the Evil One, tear down his strongholds and order his retreat. Otherwise, it is the nature of Satan to impose, intrude and usurp until confronted by true representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ who know the power of that Strong Name and will not hesitate to invoke it.
The Early Church received the anointing of the Holy Spirit and took authority to resist and overcome the Evil One. Throughout the book of Acts we see Spirit-filled apostles and deacons and evangelists operating against Satanic forces just as Jesus had done before them, and with the same results.
The Church is called to do battle against the Evil One and his forces today. Because he is invisible, prayerful attention and discernment is required on the part of those who wage spiritual warfare. Otherwise, we will soon be thinking and acting as though our struggle is with flesh and blood (people, institutions, visible entities), and we will then resort to carnal weapons used by the world. When this happens, the Church ceases to be the Church, and becomes as any other natural organization — and the Evil One wins.
Far too long the Church has cut itself off from its true source of wisdom and power and has been content with its sorry substitutes. This accounts for the spirit of apathy instead of a spirit of authority. This accounts for so many losses and almost no gains in the salvation of the lost, the making of strong disciples, the powerful, drawing, caring fellowship of the saints, and the lack of revival in general.
But hear me, dear people: Any congregation in America can know a Christ-exalting breakthrough of Spirit-anointed worship services, new people and entire families being won to Christ and the church, believers being sanctified holy, the healing of marriages and family relationships, the destruction of Satanic strongholds, vision and direction for the church, the availability of gifted and dedicated leaders, the coming forth of laborers to be trained for need-meeting ministries and the release of needed funds for financing God’s Kingdom through ministries and programs inspired by the Spirit — if only the leaders will lead the way in prayer!
All of the above can be true if pastor and leaders will devote themselves to prayer. Others will follow. It does not require a praying majority; a powerful minority can turn the tide and see revival. Dear ones, the hour is too late and too dark and too dangerous for just more trivial and timid experiments. We must return to the divinely-ordained, time-tested Upper Room means of releasing God’s power on His Church for healing her diseases and removing her reproaches. As congregational leaders throw themselves into the ministry of prayer and fasting, God will through a mighty minority begin His outpourings of the Spirit and will not stop until the congregation has experienced a mighty New Testament spiritual awakening and a great increase in the harvest of souls.
Pastors, it has to begin with us. We must first deal with the unbelief in our own hearts. We must humble ourselves and confess that because of our unbelief and pride, we have tried to build the church through our human schemes and abilities. We need to plead the bankruptcy of our fleshly ways and humbly concede that it is
“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts”
Let the shepherds of our churches start to humble themselves before the Lord and confess their prayerlessness, and the sheep will follow. Most of the church boards and ruling councils of our congregations across America are waiting and longing for their pastors to make the first move. They do not want to go over him or around him, they want him to lead. But most of them are aware of what it is going to take, and they want to be a part of it. They know that a new wind is blowing. A new call is sounding. A new army is forming. They want to hoist their sails into these new winds of the Spirit and be carried along in its power to become the Church God has called her to be and engage the enemy and see the harvest.
In closing, I declare to you that prayer is the ultimate weapon. And everyone, and anyone, can pray. Praying forces do not consist of supersaints who never fail, never sin, never doubt. They are men and women, young and old, educated and uneducated, of all races and economic categories, who refuse to settle for a nominal Christianity, who have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church and a heart to obey. They are passionate for “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” They are careful to put on the whole armor of God. They are daring in their position of authority in Christ. They are a terror to Satan and his minions, for they are not out to play games but to engage the enemy and utterly defeat him.
So, my people, to our knees we must go. To our prayer closets, prayer rooms, prayer trails, prayer walks, prayer meetings, prayer retreats. In these places, let us worship and praise Him who commands the Heavenly Hosts. Let us pour out our hearts in adoration, confession, petition and intercession. And let us listen! He wants to speak. He will speak. And then let us obey, yes obey! In everything. In anything. Obey. For God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). Revival will come to the praying, obedient hearts. And revival will spread and sweep until more and more are caught up in the glorious outpourings of God. Oh, don’t you hunger for this? If not, repent until the hunger comes. And when the hunger comes, pray until revival comes. God will not disappoint us. He will show us His Mercy and send us Revival. Such is His plan for this hour and His purpose for the delay of the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.