Over the last several decades a phenomenon has arisen in Christian circles known as “prayer warfare.” Based on rather unfortunate interpretations of Scripture passages such as Matthew 16:19 and Mark 3:27, this form of prayer attempts to dislodge or defeat evil spirits in a specific locale or situation so the work of God can progress. I have come to seriously doubt, however, that this is the way we are to approach things in the Kingdom of God. I believe the Scriptures show us a much better way.
I don’t know about you, but I have seen and heard a whole lot of things being done in so-called “prayer meetings” trying to “bind the devil” and bring an end to his evil works. These things have ranged everywhere from people violently yelling at principalities in the heavens, to people carefully crafting their prayers to address demonic entities that they have “discerned” to be in authority over a certain locality. I even heard of one church that rented a rather large plane so they could fly over an area and do warfare with the wicked spirits dwelling in “high places” (no I am not kidding). Unfortunately a lot of time and effort (and money in some cases) has been wasted trying to engage the enemy in these ways. All of it put together has yielded little, if any, results. While the hearts behind the efforts may be sincere, I think we need to look to Jesus in these matters instead of coming up with things on our own.
What Jesus Taught
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”Matthew 6:9 – 10
Jesus taught us to pray for the establishment of God’s Reign in the right here and right now. The result is His will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. There is no contesting the will of God in Heaven. Everything automatically bows to Him in absolute deference. The exercise of His Kingly authority on the earth will result in the automatic vanquishing of His foes, whoever or whatever they may be. There will be nothing that can successfully hold out against Him for very long.
No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord.Proverbs 21:30
Prayer in the Early Church
Persecution broke out against the early disciples in Acts chapter four. A notable miracle had been performed by Peter and John, and the powers of the day were concerned about it. The end result was that they warned the apostles not to teach or speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.
Once Peter and John were released, they returned to the own companions and held a prayer meeting. Let us look closely at their prayer record in Acts 4:24 – 30.
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Nowhere do we see them trying to “bind” the spirits of religion or persecution. In fact, they do not address or even mention the devil. Instead, they begin by acknowledging the absolute sovereignty of the Lord. They recognized that He, not the political or religious powers of the day, was in absolute control of the situation. Then, rather than asking Him to deal with the religious leaders who were persecuting them, they asked Him for an increase of His powerful activity among them. The result?
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:31
In the Final Analysis…
Beloved, haven’t we spent enough time giving the devil far more credit than he deserves? Instead of being fascinated by the darkness, we need to be completely captivated by the Sovereign King we serve. We are His divinely authorized representatives. We have been granted the privilege of laying our petitions before Him in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ whom we serve (John 16:23 – 24). When the King rules favorably on our petition, there is no power, human or demon, that can keep the answer from coming. Let us petition the King to rule in our midst. He will deal with the enemy as needed. Then we will truly know what prayer looks like for those who are living in the Reign.