Twelve years ago, while searching through a bookstore in Albany, Georgia, I discovered Turnaround Churches by George Barna. Today I am still challenged by his statement, “ Until the church owns prayers as a world-class weapon in the battle against evil and cherishes prayer as a means of intimate and constant communication with God, the turnaround efforts of body are severely limited, if not altogether doomed, to failure.”
Over the past thirty years, I have fought the war against evil while serving as a pastor in the local church. This statement continues to serve as both an irritant and an inspiration as I lead people to embrace the standard of Jesus, “My house shall be a house of prayer.” Luke 19:46
Few people ever doubt the need for prayer, and most people are receptive to the idea of people praying for them. It is not the acceptance of prayer, but the power of prayer that seems to be missing. Jack Hayford said it best, “Nothing improves a prayer meeting like answered prayer.”
This world-class weapon is often treated like an authentic replica of the original article. A replica serves the battlefield actor as a prop utilized to re-enact a battle scene of historical consequence, but with no fear of death. There is the requisite amount of parading, shouting, fireworks, and smoke, but at the end of the day, nothing has really changed. Sounds like a prayer meeting in the local church to me!
Actual combat creates what is called the fog of war. It is the chaos of battle that occurs when the reality of implementation slams into the theory of preparation. An aggressive opposition always strives to derail the finest battle plans.
Similarly, determined prayer warriors must overcome an enemy resistant to the will of God and His Kingdom. The enemy unleashes deception to create a larger than life persona. He appears formidable and uses this intimidation to silence effective intercession. The enemy knows prayer warriors can no longer be dominated by the fear of eternity in hell so they must be intimidated by the fear of failure on earth.
For weapons to be fired effectively they must be steadied. Every novice hunter has experienced “buck fever.” It occurs when the long awaited buck steps into the open, the rifle is aimed, and the cross hairs are set on a heart shot that will secure the trophy. Then, without warning, the adrenalin surge causes the barrel of the gun to move in a circular motion. The most effective weapon becomes a useless noisemaker until the heart of the hunter can be calmed down. Not until his aim is steadied on the heart of the prey can the trigger be pulled with any hope of hitting the target.
Scripture gives the prayer warrior every confidence that the enemy can be put to flight.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
However, when the weapon of prayer is brought forward and aimed at the enemy, it must be steadied by the practice of praise for it to be any real threat. When it is being waved wildly in the hands of a warrior the enemy laughs at the spectacle, and gains courage to do what he does best…continue to lie and to deceive.
The devil knows the weapon of prayer is powerful enough to defeat him, but warriors intimidated by immediate circumstances seldom have a steady aim. When he over hears them crying out in fear rather lifting up praise to God, his opposition is strengthened. A fear filled heart causes the weapon of prayer to wave unsteadily in the direction of the enemy. He mocks the very thing that should cause him to tremble because he does not fear a weapon that cannot be aimed accurately, or can be dropped repeatedly in the heat of battle.
The warrior is called to face the enemy with a confidence that can only come with the practice of praise. Paul reminded the members of the early church what God had in mind. He never intended for His children to be intimidated by someone who had already been defeated. F.E.A.R. has been described as False Expectations Appearing Real. Praise focuses attention on the character and conduct of God…not an enemy clouding the mind with deception and lies.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
The practice of praise focuses the warrior on who God is rather than on who the devil appears to be. With a calm heart and a steady hand, the warrior is able to unleash prayer as the world-class weapon it is intended to be. With the practice of praise comes the power of prayer. The enemy will always turn his back to boast of his power of intimidation, When the warrior releases the weapon of prayer with confidence, the enemy will be hit where it hurts the most…his pride.
Prayer still remains the world-class weapon in the battle against evil. With the practice of praise the heart is calmed, the hand is steadied, the aim is focused, the enemy is hit, and the battle is won. The local church is still calling warriors to run to the sound of the guns and fire when ready!
© 2006, Gary Miller
For over 40 years, Gary and Dana Miller have invested their lives in the pastoral ministry of churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Georgia. Gary and Dana believe the hope of the world is the local church, and the strength of the church is sustained by praying people.
They have taught extensively on the role of prayer in spiritual awakening, counseled people to build strong marriages by equipping husbands and wives to pray together and have ministered internationally in Hong Kong, Japan, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and Switzerland through their TALK LESS! PRAY MORE! Prayer Conferences.
Gary and Dana live in Fort Worth, Texas and have been married for 40 years. They are parents of two grown daughters, Ashley and Allyson.