It is my belief that most churches would experience less family problems, personal issues, sinful lifestyles, insecurity, faithlessness, marital strife, and the list goes on, if it would dedicate itself to prayer and the Word. I also believe that this dedication to prayer would lead churches to experience deeper love and fellowship, stronger affections for God, more honorable testimonies, wisdom and discernment, and greater Gospel results:
- “The power of religion and godliness lives, thrives, or dies, as closet [private] prayer lives, thrives, or dies. Godliness never rises to a higher pitch than when men keep closest to their closets.
- “Private prayer is that privy [secret] key of heaven that unlocks all the treasures of glory to the soul. The best riches and the sweetest mercies God usually gives to his people when they are in their closets upon their knees… the graces of the saints are enlivened, and cherished, and strengthened by the sweet secret influences which their souls fall under when they are in their closet-communion with God.”—Thomas Brooks (Puritan pastor)
When you read missionary stories, stories from pastors, stories from church movements, one thing stands out and that is the Satanic push for status quo Christianity—a Christianity that refuses to be challenged, to be purified, or to even grow deeper in spiritual things. And the people in this Satanic mindset reject the clear Scriptural instructions to change and grow. In fact, they despise God’s Word and instruction.
Jim Cymbala is the nationally known pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle. Placed as the pastor of this historic, yet massively declining church back in the 70s, he came there with no seminary education, but he realized that he had no power to turn the church around aside from prayer. And it wasn’t long after that he came under strong spiritual attack. Satan hates it when we listen to God’s Word, when we tell others the Gospel, and when we talk to God in prayer.
But, the question for each church, and for our church is, are you willing to settle for a comfortable status quo, or are you willing to roll up your sleeves and take on the gates of Hell in the power of Jesus Christ?
- “Every revival in church history has been started by pastors and believers who became deeply dissatisfied with the moral and spiritual climate around them. They knew from Scripture that God had something better for his people. All the great missionary movements have been spawned by men and women who became desperate to see God’s kingdom extended to newregions and to those who had not yet heard about Jesus. In fact, every time people really pray, they are believing that God by his divine power can change what isinto something better.”—Jim Cymbala, fromThe Church God Blesses
Waikoloa Baptist has been in existence 30 years. The community did notwant a church here and kept out those who were trying to plant one. Yet God sovereignly worked out the details so that a church could be planted in 1989. But, the year is 2020 now. The community has grown much larger and yet the church has a track record of not really growing. It’s stuck in status quo. I’m not satisfied with that. I’m hoping you’re not satisfied with that either.
But, to attack Satan’s strongholds, we need to be grounded in the Word (our foundation), praying to our Father for strength, wisdom, and boldness (our source of power), and then preaching the Gospel faithfully to a wicked and perverse generation (our means of attack). And when we do, you will start to see Satan’s attacks against this church more than ever before.
As Thom Rainer (retired president and CEO of LifeWay Christian resources) has said,
- “…the devil sees the pastor as a threat, and one of his highest priorities is to take him down and take him out. And the text [referring to I. Timothy 3:7] is clear. The nature of this trap will be temptation where the pastor’s reputation will be harmed.”—from I Am A Church Member
Spiritual warfare starts in your home, on your knees, in prayer with God’s Word as your basis. Your first priority is to not let Satan get a foot in the door of your spiritual life, nor that of your family’s.
Next, you need to pray for your fellow church members as they are your spiritual family here in Waikoloa. You need to pray for God to protect them, for the Word to purify them, for their boldness to speak the Gospel, and for the unity in the Spirit that comes from our Bible-informed faith.
Third, pray for your pastors as Satan will them and their families with the intent on discrediting them and discouraging them. Many churches have had their reputations injured by pastors whose lives were not honorable (I can think of stories of pastors with anger issues, financial mismanagement, sexual sins, and alcoholism). For some of those churches, the damage was irreversible and they’ve had to close their doors. So, don’t let Satan get the satisfaction!
Fourth, pray for the church universal as many are being persecuted in China, India, the Middle East, Muslim areas of Africa, and other parts of the world. Pray that they will stand strong in the midst of persecution.
- Combat is fought on many levels and in many ways. While our forces were physically engaging the Germans and the Japanese in WWII, the Koreans in the Korean War, and the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War, both we and our enemies engaged in psychological warfare, trying to wear down the confidence and morale of the other side (radio broadcasts, loudspeaker broadcasts, dropping paper flyers on troops with propaganda). In Vietnam we even tried a philosophy of winning the “Hearts and Minds” of the Vietnamese.
- Think of ways in which Satan attacks our psychological state—the one that gives us confidence in hope in Jesus Christ: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- How does he attack God’s Word? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- How does he spread lies in our congregations? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Think about the personal issues and problems you face daily:
- Have you brought them to the Lord in prayer? ___________________________________________________
- Do you notice that maybe you complain about them to others instead of laying them at Jesus’ feet? ___________________________________________________
- Do you ask God for wisdom and discernment in these situations? ___________________________________________________
- Jesus died for the church (Ephesians 5). Jesus loves His bride and wants her to be pure, trusting in Him, obeying Him. But, Satan hates Jesus and therefore hates us vociferously! (John 15:18).
- Pray now for your church and its pastors, to be protected, to fight the good fight of faith, to love each other deeply, to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
- Pray now for our church’s Gospel witness in our community as we speak to our friends, our neighbors, and those we interact with daily.
- And pray that the Word of God will penetrate hearts, will cut sharply (Hebrews 4:12-13), and will convict us, change us, and bring us into blessed obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.
- II. Thessalonians 3:1-5 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.