Prayer as Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual-Warfare I know many who read this blog are pacifists. Others are not. However, when it comes to matters of the Spirit, there is no room for pacifism. We are at war with the principalities and powers of this present darkness.

I attended a prayer gathering with a few dozen ministers in Southern California Churches of Christ yesterday. There were prayers of praise, supplication, and a plea for unity around the greater Cause of the Kingdom. For various reasons, ministers within Churches of Christ have struggled to unify and work together on an ongoing basis. This is to our detriment, and that of the Kingdom.  I was so glad to be there. Both NVC and I need all the prayers we can get. I know the same is true for my Brothers and Sisters that were there yesterday.

One of the themes of every church-planting book I have read is that intense spiritual warfare is par for the course. I believe the same applies to ministry in general as well. Unseen opposition to God and His people is often the culprit in the resistance to the advance of the Kingdom. Often, even visible resistance to the Kingdom has it’s origin in the unseen realm. Missionaries talk about it all the time and most have some rather amazing stories regarding spiritual warfare they will share with those they trust.

I know we don’t talk about this whole idea very much. We thus tend to pray rational prayers of intercession and stay focused on what we can do rather that what we can’t see. There isn’t anything wrong with this, per say. It’s just that if in fact we have the full armor of God at our disposal with which to do battle against the principalities and the powers, why don’t we use it more often? Perhaps it’s that we don’t believe in the unseen realm. Perhaps we believe “evil” is simply the outcome of bad deeds. It’s more than that. It seems to me it’s more right to say that evil produces bad deeds…not that “bad deeds” are evil (though one could argue both). To pray, “deliver us from evil,” isn’t just to say, “help me not to do anything too bad.” It’s to ask God himself for deliverance from that which causes us to act in ways displeasing to God and harmful to on another. Prayer is one context in which that deliverance begins.

Prayer is too often used as a “Prevent Defense” against the Evil One, rather than an opportunity to communicate with God or a weapon given to us as part of God’s full armor. Among many things, prayer:

  • Calls on God to act, cleanse, forgive, and provide.
  • Worships the Lord by acknowledging His Lordship and praising Him for who He is and what He has done.
  • Pushes back the darkness by calling on the Light.
  • Cultivates intimacy with God through lament and transparency.
  • Creates a sense of God’s nearness and our dependency on Him.

All of the above wage war on the enemy in their own way.

So, here’s to warfare. Let’s not just use prayer to react to things. Let’s make it a way of life. Prayer is more than spiritual warfare. However, it is certainly spiritual warfare–and I'm glad…for all who prayed at yesterday's gathering and any who would pray today.

Question: Do you believe in "spiritual warfare?" Why do you think churches don't talk about the unseen realm very much?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

 

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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