Prayer and war

I have long struggled with the subject of prayer and spiritual warfare.

Part of the problem for me is that I am not the fighting type.  Another issue for me is that I have felt some people put too much emphasis on spiritual warfare.

But I have been reading and thinking about this for a while.  And I am convinced that it is biblical and significant.

For one thing, the apostle Paul speaks about it in the famous passage in Ephesians 6 about the spiritual armour we should put on to battle “the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6: 11).  At the very end of this section, Paul tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6: 18).

If Paul says Satan must be resisted actively through prayer, who am I to object?

In reading scripture, I see a good deal about fighting Satan.  Jesus and the apostles cast out demons.  Jesus defeated Satan in the wilderness when Satan sought to bring him under his rule.  Jesus saw Satan at work through the words of Peter who had gently rebuked Christ for talking about his upcoming death.

In the Old Testament, I read about Daniel praying and an angel coming to him in response, telling him that he had been delayed for 21 days because of Satan’s minions fighting him (Daniel 10).

And there is the story of Job whose faith was tested and tried by Satan.

I know that Satan was defeated finally on the cross by Jesus’ sacrifice.  And I believe that celebrating this victory is an essential part of spiritual warfare.  When Paul and Silas were praising God in a Philippian jail, an earthquake shook the prison, freeing prisoners and leading to the conversion of the jailer and his family.

But I realize that Satan is still very active in attacking believers and trying to thwart their efforts.  I am not as effective a believer as I should be because I do not stay alert to the Devil’s schemes.

So, how do I pray?

Part of the answer is praising God.  The more I praise God for who he is and what he has done, the more the Devil is silenced and thrust away.  He cannot stand praising God.

But I must also speak from the authority that God has given me through Jesus Christ.

There is the great passage in Matthew 16 where Jesus is talking about the church which he says will not be overcome by Hell – Satan.  He tells us that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16: 19)

I understand this passage to mean that, as a believer, I have the authority to “bind and loose” which includes power to oppose the efforts of Satan.  Of course, there are conditions to this power – being in tune with God’s will which implies an intimate relationship with my Lord. (1John 5:14)

This is all familiar to most believers but it is something I have skirted for most of my life.

The reason I am focusing on it now is that I believe I have been too complacent about what Satan is doing in my life and in the life of the church.

He must be resisted – and defeated.

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