Here's the sermon I gave last Sunday: 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 wonderful 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, or 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 completely ineffective fighting force. Because when we are afraid, we are a completely ineffective fighting force. Well, I will not be afraid. And, let us be crystal clear here—the real enemy is NOT other people. For weare not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) NLT 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, 3We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4aWe use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 NLT) So, how do we do that? What are our weapons? How do we demolish arguments and every proud obstacle? Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.d16In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.e17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere (Ephesians 6:13-18 NLT) Pray in the Spirit—what does that mean? The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to in the New Testament as “The paraclete.” That’s a Greek military term. If you were a Greek soldier, your paraclete literally had your back. (Illustrate with Jeff and Tom.) So, we put on the full armor of God, standing back-to-back with the Holy Spirt, 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) We all remember the story of Jonah, right? The LORD told Jonah to go to Nineveh “because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2b NIV) The Bible does not record how wicked Nineveh was in this passage, but history does: They skinned their enemies alive, smashed children to pieces in the streets, burned children alive, tore people’s tongues out, impaled them, decapitated them, flayed them, and practiced all manner of horrific and gory barbarism. And yet, God spared them when the king of Nineveh called everyone to humble themselves, fast and pray. (Jonah 3) In Acts 6, the freshly-formed church was growing by leaps and bounds. One of the ministries of the new church came under criticism for neglecting some of the widows of the congregation, and the apostles chosen seven men of excellent reputation who were “full of the Spirit and wisdom” to oversee this important ministry so they, the leaders of the rapidly-growing church, could “give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” All throughout Acts, the Apostles repeatedly engage in corporate prayer, often meeting other believers in the Temple to do so. Jesus Himself promises that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them and whatever two agree upon on earth, it shall be done for them by the Father. (Matthew 18: 19-20.) Throughout the history of the Christian Church, corporate prayer has been central. Franklin John wrote an excellent paper called “Corporate Prayer Is a Prerequisite for the Greatest Outpouring of God’s Power.” In 1857, during a time of spiritual decline, a lay man named Jeremiah Lamphier tacked up notices in New York City calling for a weekly prayer meeting on Wednesdays from noon till one. The first week, only six showed up, but within six months, the prayer meetings had grown to 10,000. Within two years, the movement had spread to every major city in America and 50,000 people per week were coming to Christ. Fervent prayer precipitated the Shantung Revival in northern China, 1927-37 which brought an estimated hundreds of thousands to faith in a country that had been spiritually dead. Similar times of revival have taken place in South Africa, Cambodia, Nepal, and India. In 1903, Methodist missionary, Mary Culler White and Presbyterian missionary, Louise Hoard McCully started a prayer meeting in South Korea which soon spread to other missionaries. By 1907, the Korean church was growing dramatically. Three other revivals have taken place since then and today, the largest churches in the world are in South Korea. Yoido Full Gospel Church has an average weekly attendance of over 253,000 people. Enormous megachurches are also present in Chile, India, Nigeria, and El Salvador with average weekly attendance of over 100,000 people. Pollster George Barna identified a number of churches that stood out from others because of impact. He examined features common in them and discovered that corporate prayer was a foundation stone for all of them. Or how about this: In 1982, Pastor Christian Führer in the East German town of Leipzig began holding Prayers for Peace on Monday nights. On many occasions, less than a dozen people showed up. The communist East German government strongly discouraged its citizens from becoming involved in religious activities, but the meetings continued each Monday without fail. On May 8, 1989, the authorities barricaded the streets leading to the church, hoping to put people off, but it had the opposite effect, and the congregation grew. There were beatings and arrests of demonstrators at protest rallies in Leipzig, Berlin, and Dresden. General Secretary Erich Honecker of Communist East Germany declared that the church should be closed. An article appeared in a local newspaper saying that the counter-revolution would be put down on October 9, 1989 “by whatever means necessary.” “The church was visited by doctors who told them that hospital rooms had been made available for patients with bullet wounds. So we were absolutely terrified of what might happen," Pastor Fuhrer said. On October 9, 1989, the city of Leipzig filled with police and soldiers. You could smell the fear in the city. According to a BBC report, “Up to 8,000 people crowded into St Nicholas Church, including members of the feared Stasi (secret police) who had been sent to occupy it. Other Leipzig churches opened to accommodate additional protesters. About 70,000 people had now gathered in the city. After an hour-long service at St Nicholas, Pastor Führer led worshippers outside. The nearby Augustusplatz was filled with demonstrators clutching lit candles. Slowly, the crowd began walking around the city, past the Stasi headquarters, chanting "we are the people" and "no violence", and accompanied by thousands of helmeted riot police ready to intervene. But at the decisive moment the police stood aside and let the protesters march by. Pastor Führer said: "They didn't attack. They had nothing to attack for. East German officials would later say they were ready for anything, except for candles and prayer." About 120,000 people took to the streets the following Monday. General Secretary Honecker resigned two days later. The dissidents became increasingly emboldened, with around 300,000 taking part in the protests on 23 October. Exactly a month after the events of 9 October, the Berlin Wall came down amid scenes of jubilation witnessed around the world. Now, you can find all kinds of reasons on the internet for why the Berlin Wall came down, but the truth is, it was PRAYER. 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. 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. It’s not over until God says its over.