The Church Is Not Empty, It Is Deployed

As we continue in these difficult days I am reminded of a comment that recently appeared on Facebook: “The church is not empty, it is deployed”. This is not merely a clever statement, it is profoundly relevant because prayer is the great weapon of those who by faith wage war on their knees.

When Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration with three of His disciples a crowd had gathered. In that crowd was a man that had brought his demon-possessed son to be healed from his dreadful condition. But His disciples could not do it!

The distraught father complained to Jesus, “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him” (Matthew 17:16). The first response of the Lord was to lament the faithlessness of a people who failed to see the significance of His presence.

You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17).

Then He healed the man’s son.

But I would direct your attention to the conversation that Jesus had with His disciples afterward:

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]” (Matthew 17:19-21)

Flash forward to COVID-19 a novel Coronavirus.

How grateful I am for advancements in medical science. As one born in the 1950s I directly benefited from the research of Jonas Salk who discovered a vaccine for polio. I as well as many other children escaped this terrible disease. May such research continue and may those brave men and women who risk their lives to study this present pandemia be blessed with insight into these matters by the God who is able to heal all our diseases.

I know nothing about epidemiology. But I know something about the God who answers prayer. And thanks be to Him that I am well-acquainted with others who pray and have great faith in this same God when they pray!

Prayer is not our last resort. It is our first resort. Jesus was teaching this to His disciples and that includes us—present day disciples living in a world in a time of great testing. Pray without ceasing. That means that we must be given to prayer. Pray the psalms. I know that many of you do.

Tonight we will not be gathering for prayer as a group in our building. Our building will be empty as it has been now for many days. But the church is deployed in spiritual combat.

Pray for many to turn to God in faith, believing and trusting in His Son Jesus who died for sinners, taking our place that we might be delivered from a greater terror than even the COVID-19 virus!

Pray that the fear and uncertainty of many will be redirected to trust. Pray Psalm 23 not only for yourself but also for those who do not yet know the Lord as their Shepherd!

Pray for our first responders and health-care workers. Pray for the young men in our church engaged in active military service. Pray for our missionary families who serve in places where proclaiming the gospel brings them into direct contact with those who are contagious.

This should remind us of our Lord who said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31).

Wage the war of faith in the Spirit tonight and every night. May God grant us the opportunity to see His mighty deeds in the midst of these perilous times.

To Him be the glory.

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Mike Martin serves as pastor, elder, and teacher at Berean Bible Church in Monticello, IA. He and his wife Susan hosted the church family in their home during its early years. For thirty years Mike has been a bi-vocational pastor.