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Prayer   (Warfare)

Prayer is a subject that has been the focus of hundreds of books. Multitudes have been fascinated with the possibilities of prayer. Hundreds of testimonies have been recorded concerning the answer to prayer. Missionaries have reported miraculous provision and deliverance following prayer. The bible gives many examples of how prayer was answered. For example; Solomon asked for wisdom in order to be able to judge God's people. God answered far above what Solomon could have anticipated. The answer included wisdom, riches, honor, and long life. The bible records many of such examples. Some of the greatest promises in scripture are " ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE" and " I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. This sounds simple enough. Why then does it seem that prayer is the most difficult task of all? My thesis is this: Prayer touches the Kingdom and what touches the Kingdom touches opposition. The enemy doesn't want the Kingdom to come. The conclusion of the Lord's prayer is, deliver us from the evil one. MAT 6:9 "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. MAT 6:10 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. MAT 6:11 'Give us this day our daily bread. Here prayer is directly linked to the Kingdom. Surely, if God is sovereign, the Kingdom will come whenever God is ready. Why should we need to pray such a prayer. The fact is, there is a great mystery surrounding the ministry of prayer. We have covered this subject in another study about the eternal purpose of God and how God gave man dominion upon this earth. PSA 8:4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? PSA 8:5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! PSA 8:6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, PSA 8:7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, PSA 8:8 The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. All this is ordained by God and is available to man but it is not automatic. Then how does it happen? If we looked at prayer from the viewpoint of the Tabernacle of Moses we would see that, at the altar of incense, God brings man into the circle of His sovereignty and lets man participate in the decision making process for the earth. This is how God gives man apprenticeship training for the Kingdom. If the believer doesn't burn incense, he cannot participate in the Kingdom at this level of authority. All believers are given the authority that is invested in the name of Jesus. Most do not use it in it's fullest magnitude simply because they don't persist until they are burning incense. God's design was to BURN incense. Knowing the doctrine of incense is not BURNING incense. Burning incense requires the presence of FIRE. No fire, no burning. There are 20 references in the New Testament to Jesus praying. If we had to choose just one to represent altar of incense kind of prayer it would have to be John 17. Here the Man Christ Jesus stood with God, the Father, in His sovereignty, and prayed the Will of God for the earth. Few, and maybe none, will pray on this level. This was no selfish prayer for personal blessings. It is clear Jesus was standing with God, the Father, in His sovereignty and as man asking God, or we might say inviting God, to complete His purpose on the earth. This was not a warfare prayer where He was attacking Satan and commanding him to take his hands off His disciples. He was not rebuking the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. He was not binding Satan and spoiling his goods. He was not naming the demonic forces and making a prayer hole through the darkness, that the light of God could shine in and flood Jerusalem. This was the time for Calvary. In fact we don't even read of this kind of warfare prayer in the bible. We surely could expect Paul and Silas coming into a heathen city and spending a week in prayer binding and loosing before they began any evangelism. Then we may wonder why so many are advocating this kind of warfare prayer now. The reason given is because it works and evangelism without this kind of prayer has not been effective in maintaining a revival and protecting new souls. Since we don't find a direct reference to Paul or others doing this kind of warfare, we must ask ourselves if this is even necessary. We still must prove all things by the scriptures. We do read about soldiers conscripted into the army of God. We read about armor and weapons. We read about the sword of the Spirit. We read about fighting the good fight of faith. In the book of Revelation there is much written about the armies of God in heaven who are following Jesus on white horses and the battles that follow. In REV 9:16 And the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. When Jesus was in the wilderness praying, he was confronted by the Devil and what followed was personal spiritual warfare. Paul said he fought the good fight and kept the faith. 1CO 15:32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Obviously Paul was not speaking about literal animals but with spiritual forces. Besides these references, we have a few scriptures that speak of the spiritual battles. 2CO 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 2CO 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 2CO 10:5 {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2CO 10:6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. EPH 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. EPH 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.} EPH 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. EPH 6:14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, EPH 6:15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; EPH 6:16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil {one.} EPH 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. EPH 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, These are all military terms that suggest an ongoing battle. If we don't know there is a war going on or are not participating in the battles, we are just uninformed. The reality is that there is spiritual warfare on a continuous basis. Another reality is that all believers are not participating. We believe many would get involved if they knew how. The question naturally arises, if spiritual warfare is so vital to evangelism and church growth, why is it we are just now hearing it emphasized. It seems that at one time evangelism meant we hold some meetings and preach the gospel. We invite our friends and relatives to hear and hopefully they will respond and join our church. In fact that is how most churches were pioneered. Churches were planted by one man preaching the gospel, winning some souls, getting a store front building, then being faithful until money could be raised to build. Then what has changed? We have been invaded by demons and layers of angelic forces of darkness, along with the strengthening of the principalities and powers and the spiritual forces of darkness in heavenly places. Because of all that there has been a tremendous attack upon the integrity of the gospel and upon the motives of the church . There has been a steady eroding of the morals of the country and what is now acceptable to society. The result is a hardening of the hearts of the people of the world. There has also come an apathy and a spirit of slumber in the church . The let "someone else do it, that's not my calling" attitude prevails. Because people are not actively involved in some ministry, a sense of worthlessness and discouragement comes upon them. Many just give up and take up some new recreation. " We just get together on the golf course with some other believers and that is our church. We seem to get more out of it that way." No doubt. A part of the apathy is " What can I get out of it?". Christianity is " What can I contribute?". Then maybe what we need are some pep rally meetings where we stir the people up and pretend everything is O.K. Many churches are still doing that. That will never get to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is the spiritual forces of darkness over this city, this county, this state, this section of the country, this country and over this continent. Now a big mistake is to take on the spirits of darkness over this continent before we can conquer the spirits over our own house or corporately over this church building and then over our people. When we speak of warfare prayer, we are not speaking about praying to the demons and asking them to please depart from this place. We may not be speaking about prayer at all in the sense that we usually relate to praying to God. I think we should use a different word or phrase that defines the difference. We could call it " The battle of authority over this territory". Or " A confrontation of whose name will rule". Or " Our David is bigger than your Goliath". Or " The armies of Joel 2 have arisen". Or" A proclamation of the Word Of God". Or "Placing our demands upon the rulers and authorities in heavenly places". EPH 3:8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, EPH 3:9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; EPH 3:10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the RULERS and the AUTHORITIES in the heavenly {places.} EPH 3:11 {This was} in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, EPH 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. The church is to preach or make proclamation to the RULERS and AUTHORITIES in heavenly places and to explain to them the manifold wisdom of God, WHO CREATED ALL THINGS. Now if we go back to creation and God's original purpose and the dominion He gave to man we will know what we are to demand of the forces of darkness. Many will say "But who are we that we can tell these spirits anything? Do we have power over them?" When we stand with God in His sovereignty and infinite power through the name of Jesus, we don't need any power of our own. But won't these forces shoot us down? Not when we stand under the canopy of the protection of the blood of Jesus and the authority He has given us. LUK 10:19 "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you". Now if we believe that, we can use that as a proclamation when the Devil tries to put fear on us. ROM 16:20 And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. ACT 26:16 'But arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; ACT 26:17 delivering you from the {Jewish} people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, ACT 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. ' This is how evangelism was designed to work. To snatch out from under the dominion of Satan and place them under the dominion of God. That is a complete transition. To try to bring converts under the dominion of God without first delivering them from the dominion of Satan produces confusion. To deliver believers from the dominion of Satan requires spiritual warfare. This is the church's responsibility, that has many times been neglected. This is the reason why some quickly fall away. Not because they didn't really respond to the gospel but because the church was lax in her spiritual warfare. In so many cases even the demons were not cast out. Being discipled in casting out demons should be a requirement for all who participate in evangelism. Some of the church, including some pentecostal churches, have developed a doctrine that if you get people to accept Jesus as personal savior, the demons will automatically leave. This is a big mistake that has caused many new souls a lot of trouble in their spiritual life. MAR 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. MAR 16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. MAR 16:17 "And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; In evangelism, preaching the gospel, baptizing the converts and casting out demons all are part of the same ministry. This is the work of the evangelist. ACT 8:5 And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and {began} proclaiming Christ to them. ACT 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. ACT 8:7 For {in the case of} many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out {of them} shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. ACT 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. This is what we could call grass roots spiritual warfare. This battle is just toward demons who are the weakest of the spiritual forces of darkness. Casting out demons is a sign you are a believer. The bible doesn't warn us to put on our spiritual armor before casting out demons. The spiritual armor is designed for the higher level of spiritual warfare. That doesn't mean you won't be challenged by the spiritual forces of darkness if you get active in casting out demons. If you are systematically involved in deliverance, make sure you have on the full armor of God. Not because of the demons but because of the spiritual S.S. troops, the counter attack forces. Whenever we speak about spiritual warfare it brings fear to some. The reason is because most have seen horror movies where weird things happen and they relate that to spiritual warfare. We are not saying weird things never happen. What we are saying is that spiritual warfare stops weird things from happening. When weird things happen it means the war is not over, but you have made a serious beginning. The forces of darkness are beginning to recognize you are a threat to them and they are making themselves known. One piece of the spiritual armor listed in Eph 6 is having your loins girded about with TRUTH. This has reference to a belt from which was hung steel plates that encircled the loins. This word truth is the same as we spoke of in the veil of truth. It means experiential truth. Truth that is lived, rather than a knowledge of what is true. It is translated more clearly as REALITY. This implies that in warfare hypocrisy leaves us open to attack. The breastplate of righteousness speaks of those NOT living in sin. Those who are living righteous lives. Shield of faith means you need to know what the word of God says concerning our authority in Jesus Christ and how we exercise that authority over unclean spirits. Faith means believing what God said. The helmet of salvation refers to our full salvation from the dominion of Satan and standing in our full salvation precisely under the dominion of God. The shoes for our feet implies going out, moving forward, walking in our calling, standing firm in our confidence in God and conviction of the gospel. The sword of the Spirit is the WORD OF GOD. Unless we have the Word of God in our mouth we are without a weapon. Calling the Devil dirty names does not bother him at all. "Of the Spirit" implies that the Word for warfare is given by inspiration by the Holy Spirit for a specific battle. It is not just a matter of memorizing all the warfare scriptures and reciting them to the powers of darkness. That would be more of a theatrical performance than warfare. However when the Holy Spirit gives a specific WORD it cuts through the spiritual forces like a sword. Therefore those who are deaf to the voice of the Spirit are without the sword and ineffective in battle. In the study of the incense altar, this would be referred to as trying to burn incense without fire. Reciting scriptures to the devil would be like incense without fire. There is nothing wrong with the incense. It just doesn't vaporize and rise without fire. The theatrical performance is like showing off our incense but there is no power. Noise is not necessarily power. But when the enemy is in retreat the noise of victory should rise up. JOS 6:20 So the people shouted, and {priests} blew the trumpets; and it came about, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. There is definitely a time to shout. But shouting for the sake of shouting is ineffective and releases no power. Shouting follows the release of power. 1SA 17:20 So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took {the supplies} and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. Here Israel was on one side and the Philistines were on the other and they were shouting at each other but no one was doing any battle. David didn't shout but killed Goliath. After Goliath fell everybody shouted but now was the shout of victory. Shouting is good but it doesn't mean anything until the battle begins. 1SA 17:52 And the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. If we are sensitive to the witness of the Spirit we will know when it is time to shout. Isreal marched around the wall of Jerico for seven days before it was time to shout. PSA 78:9 The sons of Ephraim were archers equipped with bows, {Yet} they turned back in the day of battle. Having all the right equipment and the armor of Eph 6 is nothing if we turn back in the day of battle. Therefore He says "Having done all to stand". Stand means "Don't turn back". It doesn't mean "Stand and do nothing, but look for a chance to run". In the history of israel there are tremendous examples of warriors who single handed turn back the enemy. 2SA 23:8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was {called} Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain {by him} at one time; 2SA 23:9 and after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there to battle and the men of Israel had withdrawn. 2SA 23:10 He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip {the slain}. 2SA 23:11 Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. 2SA 23:12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the \Lord\ brought about a great victory. These are all types and examples for us of spiritual warfare. The earthly battles are pictures for us of the reality of the spiritual battles that take place in the heavenlies.