The Power of God in the Weapon of Prayerby Paul Jehle on September 10, 2014
The Power of God in the Weapon of Prayer:
The Miracle of Leipzig, Germany
By Pastor Paul Jehle, The New Testament Church, Plymouth, MA
“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets… (and) the wall fell down flat”
Believers know the story of Jericho. Many have grown up singing about the fact that the “walls came a tumbling down.” The story illustrates, however, the power of obedient prayer. It is not prayer that has power, it is the God of prayer that is all powerful. This weapon proved more powerful than all the armies of Jericho and the strength of her wall – and it was released through obedient prayer. No one disputes the fact that walking around a city for six days in silence, and then seven times on the seventh day – and only after that – shouting with the trumpets – in praise – is a strange strategy indeed!
But the God of Jericho is the God of today. And the Scriptures declare in Ephesians 6:18 that essentially the practice of persistent, persevering prayer is truly a piece of the armor of God. Prayer tames us, humbles us and causes us to realize that submission to God and His Word is the most powerful weapon. Other weapons to defend nations and even individuals are legitimate, but what sets the people of God apart is the strategy of inner submission to the will of God through the peaceful power of prayer.
Twenty-five years ago a little known incident brought down another wall – the Berlin Wall. In Leipzig, Germany there is a church founded in 1165 AD known as The St. Nicholas Church. Both its age and name are historic, of course, but it’s the Peace Revolution Memorial – a column with palm leaves sprouting out the top that remind people of a much more modern day historic miracle that occurred here in 1989. The Church there is known historically as the “cradle of the peaceful revolution” due to its courageous Pastor Christian Fuhrer and the actions of its congregation on October 9, 1989, 25 years ago. This “revolution” is the real cause of the fall of the Berlin Wall that few know about.
Martin Luther intended a peaceful revolution in 1517 when he nailed 95 theses to the door of the Wittinberg Church on October 31. Luther’s gift to the Germany people was the Scriptures translated into their own language – the script for a peaceful revolution. But Germany, like other European nations, became the battle ground of holy and unholy spiritual forces. The mixture of Christianity and socialism eventually stunted Germany’s spiritual growth by the late 19th century. The mixture the German church embraced eventually allowed tyranny to rise a few decades later as a natural result of her compromised theology.
World War I and II put Germany on world stage when its leaders chose tyranny over the happiness and security of its people. The results of World War II divided Germany, as well as its capitol, Berlin – into East and West – or enslaved and free. Those under Communist rule, including the churches, became pawns in a game of political correctness. If a Church sought to speak out freely in East Germany the results were not a game for persecution was the norm for all non-conformists.
On August 13, 1961, Communist Germany began construction of the Berlin Wall under the guise of keeping the west from infiltrating the east. Thousands of eastern citizens fled each day to freedom in the west. The Communists were losing all their professionals who would rather have freedom than tyranny. Even as the wall was constructed people risked their lives for freedom. President John F. Kennedy, on June 26, 1963, proclaimed at the Brandenburg Gate: “…the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the communist system… lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today to the hopes of tomorrow… we look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one.”
President Ronald Reagan spoke at the same spot 24 years later on June 12, 1987. He stated “behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city… in the Communist world, we see failure…. Even today the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself… there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity… Freedom is the victor. Reagan then proclaimed his famous words “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
But the proclamations of President Kennedy, Reagan and others, along with U.S. foreign policy, did not alone bring down the Berlin Wall. So if it wasn’t the policies of Reagan alone that brought Soviet tyranny to its knees, what was it? A little known prayer meeting that culminated in a peaceful protest on the 9th of October, 1989 brought the tyrannical forces of Eastern Berlin to its knees. It was started, and led, by Pastor Christian Fuhrer. He understood the power of submissive prayer to the Almighty as directed by His Word, and he understood that Christianity advances through voluntary confession. He understood that throughout history prayer and the power of God has brought down tyranny in the face of the forceful might of dictators. The most powerful weapon the Christian church has is prayer. Though there is no guarantee as to how God might answer such prayers, it is the most important discipline the church should practice. The results of this little known prayer meeting brought down the Berlin Wall.
Pastor Fuhrer began a Monday prayer meeting in 1982 to intercede for the tyrannical government of Eastern Germany. After all, Scripture exhorts us all to pray for civil leaders, regardless of whether they are good or bad (1stTimothy 2:1-5). Like most prayer meetings, it began with only a handful of people but Pastor Fuhrer persisted. The prayer meeting continued for seven years, and by 1989 more than 2,000 people regularly attended the Monday prayer times of intercession. Once it got this large, the German Government could no longer turn a blind eye – they got worried.
The Government sent spies to infiltrate the prayer meeting and they took names of those who participated. At one point Pastor Fuhrer was put in the snow to die, and at other times members of his prayer meeting were fired from their jobs. Some of the young people took their parents place in the prayer meeting since they had no jobs to lose. This was a multi-generational prayer meeting that was calling on the God of the Universe to intervene in their situation! There was no political agenda – only prayer for God to intervene in the face of tyranny.
Then, on October 9, 1989, Pastor Fuhrer sent the prayer warriors into the streets with candles – after all, they could no longer fit in the Sanctuary. Amazingly, the entire town had caught the peaceful method and on this historic and miraculous night 100,000 fellow German citizens joined the two thousand candle carrying prayer warriors into the streets of Leipzig! A “peaceful revolution” was taking place!
The German government, however, prepared for conflict. Riot gear, rifles and tanks formed on one side and the prayer warriors and citizens for freedom, carrying candles, on the other. All knew the possible consequences. Only months before the Chinese government had put down the peaceful protest of college students in Tiananmen Square by force and hundreds were killed. These prayer warriors were willing to pay the price and had inspired thousands of their neighbors to join them!
What the German Government faced, however, was a different kind of power than they were used to combating. One soldier remarked they were ready to face anything “except candles and prayer.” The prayer warriors approached their fellow Germans, bravely praying and approaching those carrying rifles and driving the tanks. They began offering them candles, and amazingly, miraculously, they began to take them, lay down their weapons and join the throng. Soon rifles were on the ground and the tanks were removed! Communist General Henecker resigned the next week in defeat and Pastor Fuhrer said “we did it” because “the church has to do it.” Four weeks later, on November 9, 1989, the Soviet authorities announced that the Berlin wall would no longer be guarded and people were free to leave. People poured through the holes and began tearing the wall down!
Pastor Fuhrer understood that though there are natural weapons we might all use when necessary to defend ourselves as individuals or nations, the most powerful weapon of all is held by the church – and only the church. Corporate prayer, where individuals and families join as one to submit to a holy God who has all power is stronger than nuclear weapons! Twenty-five years ago candle carrying prayer warriors saw God win a victory peacefully in the face of tyranny! A monumental tower stands in front of the church in Leipzig today with palm branches (symbolizing peace) growing out of their tops. Even the inside of the church is decorated the same way.
As our culture continues to disintegrate and persecution appears on the horizon for us in America, may we arm ourselves with this kind of courage and pray like we have never prayed before! Don’t neglect individual prayer for that is the source of relational walk with Christ. But don’t neglect corporate prayer within the church either, for there is a higher level of prayer in that – transforming us into a house of prayer where everyone knows that on our knees is the highest place in all the world. Finally, let us not neglect the power of kingdom prayer where multiple churches gather to intercede for God to intervene as He has done throughout Scripture and in the providential interventions we find in history.
Let us pray and praise, and let God show Himself strong by knocking down some modern walls!