When the topic of Spiritual Warfare is raised, some people can become a little uncomfortable. Some of this reaction is based on the fear of the unknown, after all the scriptures say that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, and that can be a rather intimidating thought.
Others react negatively to the concept of Spiritual Warfare because they envision some wild-eyed tent evangelist smacking someone in the head and screaming “I cast you out!”. The drama of a scene like that is not within the comfort zone of many, including myself.
But the truth is we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and rulers in heavenly places. Indeed, to pray is to engage in the conflicts of the spiritual world, whether or not we acknowledge that reality. While we live in a culture that emphasizes the rational above the spiritual, we need to see that our role here on the earth has much to do with the unseen, but very real, spiritual domain.
This role is not new. The battles waged from the Garden on reflect and affect things that go far beyond our physical milieu. The conflict began before creation, when Lucifer rebelled, and began to involve us when he determined to take God’s creation down with him.
The “death” Adam and Eve experienced immediately upon sinning was not a physical one, but spiritual death (the physical death followed later). So the first consequence of sin was spiritual and that is the realm in which we are called to fight from that point on, because we are not merely physical, but also spiritual beings.
The Bible gives us glimpses of this conflict in the behind the scene narrative of Job, the encounter Joshua had with the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, Daniel’s spiritual warfare praying to bring about the release of Israel from the Babylonian captivity, and Elisha’s prayer that his servant would see the hosts of heaven arrayed around them in protection.
Elisha prayed that Gehazi’s eyes would be opened, and that may need to be our prayer as well. There are times when we need to see behind the scenes of the requests brought before us to the spiritual battle raging at its foundation, and to realize afresh that those arrayed with us are greater than those against us.
The enemy of our souls wants to keep people blind to the truth of the gospel, in bondage to the sin and deception that keeps them captive and defeated, ignorant of the grace God holds out to them, and separated from the power that is theirs in Christ’s resurrection and ascension.
Satan would like to accuse the brethren, as he did in Zechariah 3. He’d like to delay answers to prayer, as he did with Daniel. He’d like to oppose the progress of the gospel, as he did with Paul (1 Thes. 2:18). We need to have the faith of Job to trust beyond what is seen, to persevere when answers don’t come right away, as Daniel did, and recognize and deal with spiritual battles we encounter as we so often see in the life of Jesus and the apostles.
This brief writing cannot fully equip you for spiritual warfare praying, but I would like to suggest a few tips:
1. Volume is not necessary. We don’t have to get into a shouting contest with the devil. We are praying to God, and He hears us just fine, even at a whisper.
2. Audible prayer does seem to carry more weight. There is power in the spoken word.
3. All authority for spiritual warfare not only comes from the finished work of Jesus, it resides in the finished work of Jesus. We dare not attempt to rest in any authority of our own (Acts 19:13-17).
4. While we need to remember Satan is already defeated, we also need to remember he still has been allowed vast power. We need to be humbly dependent on God as we pray.
Apostle Paul said that we are not ignorant of the enemy’s schemes. For that to be true we do need to be aware of his tactics and how to identify when he may be at work in the struggles for which we pray.
These are deep patterns of sin which have a strong hold in a person’s life. Sometimes this is called a besetting sin, and it can also exhibit itself as an addiction, a character weakness, or an area of repeated defeat in their life.
These are patterns of sin which extend back for generations. Abraham’s family had a deep generational sin of deception. Both he and Isaac tried to pass their wives off as their sisters. Jacob, in turn, deceived his father into giving him the blessing, and his own sons deceived him in the Joseph affair. Familial generational sins can include anger, immorality, abuse, addiction, etc.
Churches and nations can have generational sins, as well. If a church has a repeatedly split, defied spiritual authority, exhibited critical spirits, etc., there may be a spiritual root that needs attention and prayer.
When pride abounds, so does the devil. His “original sin” was one of pride and he uses pride to tempt us in all sorts of ways. God says He resists the proud, so a spiritual battlefield is inherent in areas of pride.
Jesus called Satan a deceiver and the father of lies. When we find someone who is trapped in deception and seemingly unable to see truth, we are likely meeting a spiritual battle.
The Bible is quite clear that not all illness or calamity is a result of sin, but, as in the case of Job, that does not make it any less a spiritual battle. Paul said his thorn in the flesh was an instrument of Satan, but he also saw it as a means to humble him. No matter the origin of the affliction, the battle is for the person to surrender to God’s purpose in it, as Job and Paul did, and to be released from it as soon as God’s work is done.
Satan is not only the accuser of the brethren, he accuses God to us, as well, in an attempt to get us to doubt God, His word, or His character. When a person’s faith is being tested, there is a huge battle for the honor of God involved.
God is a God of unity and union. Jesus died so we could be reconciled and united to God and with one another. Jesus’ prayer (John 17) shows how much He desired union and unity, so it stands to reason when division is present, Satan is at work.
Ways to pray:
1. Help us not to be unaware of the schemes of the enemy, so we can wage an effective prayer battle against them.
2. Help us to be diligent to equip ourselves with the armor of God and with tactics to fight the battle.
3. Help us to live obedient lives so our prayers will avail much as we intercede for others who are under spiritual attack.
4. Teach us to discern areas of spiritual need as we interceded for others. Help us to identify where the battle truly lies.
5. Show us where the spiritual battle lines are drawn in our own lives, so we may be victorious, and may be more effective warriors.
6. Help us to hold on to faith, trust You, and not doubt Your character.
7. Help us to identify and have victory over strongholds and generational sins.
8. Teach us to humble ourselves before You, so we are mighty in battle.
9. Keep us from deception, and show us where we may already be deceived.
10. Help us to seek and guard the unity and union for which Jesus paid so dearly.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries