“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:10-12
The Christian life is spiritual warfare. Many Christians are prone to overlook or minimize this, but we cannot run away from it. We are in warfare. The day we decided to become disciples of Christ we declared war against the kingdom of the devil and all his works in our lives and communities.
The war is real. There are real casualties. We can either decide to fight or we will be defeated. Many of us are not experiencing any warfare because we have long been defeated and the enemy doesn’t bother us anymore.
The picture Paul used was that of a Roman soldier who needs to be strong and watchful in order to fight. It is a picture of a soldier who needs to be careful and prepared at all times. Spiritual warfare is not about making noise. It is above all being able to overcome the enemy, his temptations, and his traps. It is about winning new territories for God.
The reason why spiritual warfare is so important is that prayer is not only about talking to God, but about defeating the devil and his evil plans. The devil has a ministry. His 24/7 ministry is to steal, kill, and destroy. His main calling is to make sure you go to hell. His passion is to make people doubt God.
Many Bible verses show the nature of spiritual warfare. I would like us to look at the example of Daniel. Daniel 10:2-11 reads:
At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
This is a very interesting story about prayer and spiritual warfare. Daniel, the man of God, decided to seek God’s face in prayer and fasting. He prayed and fasted for many days, but no response was coming. On the twenty-first day, the answer came through an angel (likely Gabriel). What was the angel’s explanation for the delayed answer? Daniel 10:12-12 says,
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
His answer was that the prince of Persia withstood him and delayed him. God had given an answer to Daniel from the very first day he started praying. The answer did not get to him until Michael came to help the angel to fight the prince of Persia, who was a demonic prince over the kingdom of Persia. What would have happened if Daniel had stopped praying? His prayer brought help. The book This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti shows vividly what spiritual warfare includes.
The devil’s ministry is to foil and destroy everything God is doing on earth. We are on earth, inside the devil’s kingdom, operating and snatching away his subjects. Do you think he sits down and blesses your work and ministry? No! He is in the business of destroying you. But we are victors because “greater is he [the Holy Spirit] that is us than he that is in world.”
Who Are Our Enemies?
Ephesians 6:12 says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Second Corinthians 10:3-5 reads,
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The Bible clearly says that we are not fighting against human beings but against:
- Rulers of the darkness of this world
- Spiritual wickedness in high places
The kingdom of the devil is as organized as human kingdoms. There are demonic princes over continents, nations, cities, and towns. The Bible says that it is against them we are fighting. Their work is to make sure that the Kingdom of Jesus does not get established in their dominions. They are invisible, but they are real.
Harnessing the Forces of God’s Kingdom
Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we can win souls and get people into God’s kingdom without direct confrontation with these demonic forces. This is why prayer is key. Through prayer, we harness the forces of God’s kingdom (his angels) to fight on our behalf.
Mark 3:27 says, “In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.”
This is one of the weak points of the Church in Europe. We neglect fighting in prayer for our nations and our people. We just give up and give in. We pray routine prayers that are dead and that do not make an impact on God’s work.
Fighting in prayer is radical, violent, and passionate. It is indeed a fight. Read Matthew 11:12: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”
God wants us to fight the devil and his demons. God does not give us the weapons of warfare (Ephesians 6:10-16) so we can just dress up and look like soldiers. He has given us those weapons so we can fight and win. He expects us to win. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” First Peter 5:8-9 reads,
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
I remember a story told by a man of God. He had a vision. Jesus was standing about ten meters away. All of a sudden a demon that looked like a monkey started making noises and smoke beclouded his vision of Jesus. He was waiting for Jesus to rebuke the demon, but he didn’t. In the end, this pastor rebuked the demon and it just disappeared. He asked Jesus why he didn’t rebuke the demon and Jesus said that it was because he had given him the power to do so. Read Luke 10:19-20:
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
We should not be afraid of fighting this war. We are called to be soldiers of Christ. God has assured us victory and those who overcome shall reign with Jesus forever. Therefore, fight. And never give up.
(This article is edited and taken from John Godson’s book Effective Prayer, see www.pielgrzym.org/articles.html)