Because prayer is (or should be) such an integral part of the believer’s walk with the Lord, it is helpful to know what the Bible says about the ways we can pray and the expected results. One important aspect of our prayer life is that of spiritual warfare. We must understand that we have a REAL enemy who has a plan of attack against everything we’re praying for.
Entire books have been written on this subject, so I in no way intend to cover this topic exhaustively here. I would, however, like to share some ways to pray that are based in Scripture and thus potent and effective when applied to our prayer list.
Occasionally I run into someone who would rather just “bury their head in the sand” than to acknowledge that we do, in fact, have a spiritual enemy. They don’t like to talk about Satan and would rather simply close their eyes to the fact that he is active in trying to oppose God’s kingdom. He knows he’s defeated, but still – he’d like to take as many people down with him as he can and wreak as much havoc in our lives as possible. After all, if we’re constantly bombarded with attacks (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, financial, etc.) and don’t know how to fight them, we’ll end up living defeated, unproductive lives and not accomplishing God’s purpose for us. And that would suit Satan just fine! So, it’s important to know how to pray against both his obvious onslaught and his more subtle, devious schemes for our demise (think Eve in the garden – a perfect example of this latter kind of attack).
The Lord’s Prayer instructs us to ask God to “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13); many translations say “the evil one”. So we have it on excellent authority that we should be asking God to intervene in those situations that clearly demonstrate Satan’s influence at work.
We are also told in James 4:7 to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from [us]“. And that instruction comes immediately after a call to “submit [ourselves] to God”. This combination of submission to God and resistance of the enemy is a powerful strategy against the devil’s schemes.
Consider, in addition, these scriptures:
1. 2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2. Matthew 17:19-21 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.”
3. Job 1:10 God can and will place a hedge of protection around us to keep us from the attacks of the enemy, so we can pray for God to do that for us and for those we pray for.
4. We can pray for God to send angels to encamp around those we’re praying for to thwart the enemy’s attacks.
- Daniel 6:22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.
- Exodus 23:20 See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.
- Psalm 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
5. Psalm 91 is filled with God’s promises of protection and deliverance from Satan’s schemes.
6. Daniel 10:12-14 Sometimes the answer doesn’t come as quickly as we’d like – and that can be the result of demonic influence or attack. In these verses, we learn that Daniel’s prayer – while it was heard from the moment he uttered it – was delayed by a demonic attack and held back for 21 days as God’s angels did battle in the spiritual realm with these forces of evil. We can pray against these demonic attacks that delay God’s answers from reaching us.
Here is just one example of praying God’s way and doing spiritual warfare. This example related to the permits and applications that had been submitted for the new church building we were constructing:
- Prayed that documents would not get overlooked
- Prayed that paperwork would not “accidently” fall behind someone’s desk (I could just see in my mind’s eye, a little “demon of distraction” causing our paperwork to fall through the cracks (literally)!
- Prayed that if the paperwork had been misplaced, God would dispatch His angels to rescue that paperwork and cause it to be front and center on the desk of the appropriate person! [Think Frank Peretti and his books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness]
- Prayed for God’s favor from the person reviewing our permits; prayed that he or she would not be negatively impacted by anything that would cause them to reject our permit.
Now, this may be all too “sci-fi” for you – this talk of demons and angels and spiritual warfare – BUT, look how much of Jesus’ ministry was devoted to delivering people from demons, speaking against demonic activity and confronting Satan himself and those who were motivated by him! Remember: God is the SAME yesterday, today and forever; He does not change! And in the same ways God protected those we read about in Scripture, He will also protect us.
Let 2 Corinthians 10:4 (see above) be your guide as you pray effectively in all the ways God provides in His Word.
Joyfully serving Him,
Director of Music and Ministries