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Wednesday, August 19th 2009

1:54 PM

"Empty Guns - Empty Prayers"

By Pastor Bruce Sikes

Lately, I have been burdened to write to you about prayer. It's not that I have been having trouble with prayer, just the opposite. The Lord has been blessing my prayer times in amazing ways. In fact, so much so that God has compelled me to challenge you to join in experiencing what He is showing the Remnant through prayer. I believe God is moving His Remnant into a deeper and more powerful level of prayer. A level of prayer which is bringing us into a closer and more active relationship with Him. One that will empower His Remnant to fulfill the tasks He has set before us to proclaim repentance and revival to His Church.

I want to start by sharing with you the story of a man who's house was broken into in the middle of the night. The homeowner grabbed a gun and searched his house. He met the intruder face to face. Both men starred at each other for a couple of eternal seconds. The intruder looked straight into the other man's eyes and said, "You are too weak to pull the trigger." Then the he rushed the homeowner, overpowered him, and took his gun away. The gun was empty.

An unfortunate story, but a useful analogy for Christians today and our chief weapon-prayer. Many of us run around with empty guns. Sure, we may wear them on our hips and show them off at church on Sunday mornings, but we are afraid to load them with live ammo. Furthermore, we draw them only as a last resort and would certainly never actually point them at anyone.

Empty prayer is as useless as an empty gun. Moreover, having access to a loaded gun but not knowing how to use it, forgetting to use it, or being afraid to use it, is equally useless. When the intruder, that is evil, breaks into our lives we often end like the homeowner above. We become a victim. We rush to meet the evil head on leaving our weapon on our bedside table. We try to handle the intruding evil under our own strength and abilities. It's only when we feel backed into a corner that we resort to reaching for our weapon, only to find it empty. So we try to wave it around and hope the bad thing, person, or situation will just go away. We question our ability and our worthiness to use it. We question its effectiveness. Will it work? Some people will occasionally aim it in the general direction and pull the trigger hoping their prayer hits something. They believe one shot up in the air is good enough.

Evil is not impressed. Think of the story in the book of Acts about the Seven Sons of Sceva. They went around trying to drive out demons with an empty gun.

"Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding." (Acts 19:13-16)

Clearly they tried to exercise a gift of the Holy Spirit without Christ's anointing or authority. Furthermore, they failed to understand the reality of true evil. Many people and many Christians, including some pastors, find it difficult to believe that real spiritual evil exists in the human world today outside of history books, or perhaps only amongst the very worst of criminals. This is not what the Bible teaches.

"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." (1 John 5:19)

"For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ." (Philippians 3:18)

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment. Using this God given ability enables us to recognize the presence and influence of evil in a situation or person. God has given us this gift so we can know who, when and what to pray. It is our early warning system. The gift is far more than our own personal protection, it is to help protect the Church. Our job is to pray whether anyone besides us sees the evil or not. When God shows us the evil, we must intercede with our chief weapon - prayer.

The Bible speaks more than once of the Host of the Lord, that is the Army of God. It speaks of spiritual battles and the weapons we believers have to fight with, weapons that are "powerful enough to demolish strongholds." (2 Cor. 10:4). When God calls us to His army, His work, His Remnant, He has not called us to join a parade band. We have been called to much more than music choruses, church socials and Sunday morning Bible studies. We have been called to join our brothers and sisters in struggling, suffering, and warfare - spiritual warfare.

"I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me." (Romans 15:30)

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God," (2 Timothy 1:9)

The Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to passionately urge us to be actively involved in the spiritual struggle, not just for Paul but for all believers in this fallen world. God wants us to be all that we can be for Him so that we might know the full measure of His love for us. Graciously, God does not send us empty handed but abundantly equips us for the task.

However, unloaded weapons are not an option, leaving them in church on Sunday mornings - not an option, failing to use them - not an option.

Like fully trained soldiers, we must keep our weapons at the ready. We must have confidence in our prayers, knowing that when we pull the trigger it will hit the mark. We are to be vigilant and prepared to pray, again and again, until according to God's will victory is achieved. God defines victory, our obligation is to pray. Therefore, we must be ready to pray in any direction, at any time, on any and all occasions.

As good soldiers of Christ, we trust in the effectiveness of our weapon (prayer) even though at times the enemy seems unaffected. Prayer is our duty, the results are from God. The Lord has never lost a battle and never will, in fact, the war has already been won by Christ. Ironically, some Christians seem to have forgotten that, they act as victims rather than victors. Evil knows that all too well and seeks to confuse his enemy (us), and take as many people down with him as possible. Satan will tell us that we are unworthy, weak and have no authority in an effort to beat us down and keep us from serious prayer. Why, because "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Notice the scripture does not say "perfect" man. Do not let Satan fool you. We are righteous because God has made us so through the blood of Christ. The prayers of those whom Christ has called His own, no less the Remnant, are powerful and effective. If God would grant us eyes to see the spiritual world, we would see our prayers having the same literal explosive effect as any man made weapon.

The Remnant must act like the soldiers who have achieved victory in Christ to whom we serve. Our prayers have God's anointing power behind them. We must accept this and claim the power God grants us in prayer, and use it - now! One last thought, many Christians treat prayer as a defensive weapon only. We too often only pray after we have been attacked.

Let me challenge you to go on the offensive with prayer.

There are all kinds of prayers such as those for sickness, finances, daily family and work decisions, etc. We need them all. However, God wants more from you. He is calling you to go much deeper. As I write this now, I am praying that you will take up the Remnant's call and act as an Intercessor on behalf his Church. I am praying that God will grant you His Spirit of Discernment to see through the spirits of deception and delusion so prevalent in our world today and to reveal the spiritual strongholds of evil which have come in amongst His Church. I pray that when God reveals these to you for the first time, or confirms what you already know in your own spirit, that you do nothing under your own power, but rather stop, drop and pray.

Go on offense! If you accept this challenge, God will grant you His power and authority in the Name of Jesus Christ to clearly and specifically pray for what the Holy Spirit reveals to you. The Lord will answer in His way and in His time. This is not a vague qualifier, but a promise!

Expect something to happen. It will. Look for it! I am expecting my prayer for you to be answered. I am looking to hearing back from some of you of what God has done through your Intercessory prayers. Please feel free to share with me your prayer experiences and results as God further empowers you as His Remnant and moves you closer to Him.

You can reach me at BruceSikes@aol.com

For Christ and His Remnant,

Pastor Bruce

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