Spiritual Warfare in Worship, Intercession and the Arts

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A compilation of study and resources on Spiritual Warfare and intercession with regards to Worship

Dean Sherman's Testimony

I was lying on the bare floorboards of our house in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The year was 1970. For seven days I had been fasting and praying, I had to have some answers. We had been there for three months, and though our Youth With A Mission team was witnessing and holding meetings in the marketplaces, we were seeing few results. And I had noticed something else– something that really bothered me. Although churches in this city were full and thousands claimed to be born again, they were still bound by sin. Many so-called Christians continued to practice witchcraft. And even when we preached against it, there was no change. There was only hardness. Something was very wrong.

So I began to fast and pray, asking God for some answers. One day as I lay praying on that rough floor, God's voice spoke into my mind. His answer was unexpected– something entirely new to my thinking. Yet it was as clear as I have ever heard Him speak: Praise is the key to breaking down the forces of darkness which have held this city since the beginning of time. These forces have never been challenged. I lay there stunned. I had never thought about spiritual forces controlling a place-no one I knew in 1970 was speakabout powers of darkness over cities. I had never heard teaching on spiritual warfare, and was only aware of a few people who "specialized" in ministries of delivering people from demons. Then I realized something else as I lay there, pondering what God had said. The Church in New Guinea was well– established. It had thrived to a degree. Missionaries had spent years building the Church of Jesus Christ. They had right doctrine and believed the Bible. Yet God said the spiritual forces over Papua New Guinea had never been challenged. That meant the Church could have measurable success without ever directly challenging the powers of darkness! My mind reeled with the possibilities. I asked God to confirm that it had been His voice, and not my imagination. After sharing with the other YWAM leaders on our team, Tom Hallas and Kalafi Moala they too believed it was from the Lord. Still it was so new that I asked God for further reassurance.

A few days later, a car pulled up in front of our house and out stepped a sweaty, lanky American. "Bless God, brothers! I've been lookin' for some Christians..." he whooped, pumping our hands. "I described the kind I was lookin' for all over town and everyone pointed up to this house! Praise God!" I swallowed, casting a sidelong glance at Tom and Kalafi. So the people in town thought this boisterous evangelist was our kind, eh? But we welcomed him to begin a series of meetings in our house. He preached to the few who came up the hill, and brandished a tambourine in the times of singing. When he prayed, he shouted at the top of his voice, imploring God to save people, to heal, and to fill people with the Holy Ghost. Not the Holy Spirit...the Holy Ghost.

Despite his peculiarities, however, something told us he was okay. What happened at the meeting on the second night was the real clincher. The preacher stood before our little group, eyes tightly closed, and proclaimed in his prophecy voice, "Yea, the Lord would say that praise is the key to breaking through the forces of darkness over this city!" Wow, I thought. The same thing God had said to me when I was fasting and praying! A few weeks later, a Dutch evangelist came through. He also gave a direct word from God to us: "Praise is the key to breaking down the forces of darkness!" A third came, from New Zealand, and a fourth from Australia– all said the same thing. Four men from four nations came within weeks, each using the same terminology that the Lord had spoken to me on the floor that day. It didn't take a rocket scientist to understand God had spoken. We put it into practice, becoming fanatical praisers. Sometimes we worshiped God in our little mission house all morning. We marched around the room, sang at the top of our voices, shouted praises, and fell to our knees or stretched out face down, praising God. And it started making a difference, for we were finally seeing breakthroughs, with people getting saved, set free from bondage, and coming into the fullness of the Spirit. When we went out to evangelize, the change was clear. Instead of hardened, unrepentant people hiding behind a Christianized facade, we saw individuals stand weeping publicly, renouncing their witchcraft. The trickle of converts increased to a steady flow, and we had as many as five thousand attending our meetings. Every week we baptized new Christians in the ocean– and this continued for three years. Cripples got up and walked and blind people were healed. Within six months, we saw nine fellowships of Spirit-filled believers begun in Port Moresby. We were riding on the crest of a wave. However, we were soon to find out how real ... deadly real ... spiritual warfare is.

Satan's attack was sudden and vicious. David Wallis, a New Zealander in his early 20s was on our team. During the height of this spiritual move, he led several other young men out to evangelize an outlying village. They encountered fierce opposition from the local witch doctor. When they refused to leave, the shaman put a curse on them. After six weeks, the team returned to Port Moresby. David didn't think anything about the curse, nor did we. Many times witch doctors had cursed us and our efforts, but without any effect. However, David reported that he had suffered from a fever off and on while away in the village. The fever was gone now, but he was weak. When I suggested he see a doctor, he said he felt better and just needed to rest. Yet after a couple of days of bed rest, David grew weaker. And his fever returned. Then one day, about three days after he returned from the village, I went into the room where David lay on his bed. He was delirious, had a high fever, and was babbling incoherently. We immediately rushed him to the hospital. But we were not prepared for the devastating news: We were told David was in an advanced stage of cerebral malaria. I asked, "How can that be? There osm supposed to be any malaria in this part of Papua New Guinea." But they were certain– and the prognosis couldn't have been more grim, either. The doctor informed us that this was the most deadly form of malaria. There was only a slight chance that David would live, and even if he did, the damage to his brain would leave him in a permanently vegetative state.

Our team went home and began a desperate vigil of prayer and fasting. It was a heavy struggle as we prayed through the night– there was such a feeling of oppression. Before this we had been able to pray for hours, yet here we were in the greatest need and we could hardly form the words. To me, it seemed like my prayers came out of my mouth and just fell on my chest. It was as if all the powers of hell had centered their might against us, focusing their fury on the body of David Wallis. By morning, however, I believed we had made some headway spiritually. I rushed to the hospital only to find David's bed freshly made up. He was gone. When I looked for the matron, she crisply informed me that David was in intensive care. He was convulsing. She said, "He's going to die and it's your fault– you and your religious convictions have cost this man his life! And even if he does live, he'll be a vegetable!" I tried to explain that we had tried to get him to come earlier, that we weren't one of those groups who didn't believe in going to doctors, but she wouldn't listen. The entire hospital staff seemed convinced that we were religious kooks and should be held legally responsible for this young man's condition. I went home reeling. What if David died? Would they prosecute us? And even if they didn't would our reputation be so ruined in this relatively small city that our ministry couldn't continue? And what would happen to all our young converts– what would this do to their faith? Hadn't we told them that God works miracles today, that we had authority over the forces of darkness through Jesus Christ?

The hospital called David's family in New Zealand, and his father flew to his bedside. He didn't say much at our first meeting, but he did remind me that he had warned David not to go with us. "I told him you were an irresponsible bunch!" he said. At the end of the second day, the medical staff again told me there was no hope for David. I went into his sickroom and there he lay unconscious, curled into a fetal position and as yellow as a cube of butter. Various tubes were connected to him, and the swish and hum of a breathing machine kept his chest moving slightly. Otherwise he was as still as death. Summoning all the faith I could muster, I desperately but softly cried out to God. Then, following an impulse, I knelt down beside his bed and spoke directly into David's ear: "You demon power of death! I rebuke you in the name of Jesus and command you to loose your hold on this man's body"' The moment I said that, there was a strong gurgling from his mouth. And that was all. I returned home, and again we spent the entire night in prayer.

When I returned the next morning, I hurried to intensive care. As I walked in, David was sitting up! He did not have the breathing tube in his mouth, but the intravenous tubes remained. His father turned and faced me with a despairing look. Then I looked into David's eyes: There was only a blank stare. "I've been here, calling him by name all morning," his father wearily explained. "Nothing ... no response at all." I looked for the matron and asked about David's condition. "He's worse!" she declared. "But yesterday he was lying in a fetal position," I protested, "and today he's sitting up, without the oxygen tubes! He's better; he has to be." She remained adamant. He was no better. He would never be normal again. It was a tragedy, what had happened to this young man, and it was all our fault. I returned to his room and David's father walked out, leaving me alone with him. As I walked around the end of his bed, I noticed his blank eyes were following me. I said, "David, we are praying for you, and Jesus has the victory!" Then an unbelievable thing happened. If I hadn't seen and heard it myself, I would have trouble believing it. Without his lips moving or that blank stare leaving his eyes, the word "Hallelujah!" came from his throat. I left to go back and report to the team. Surely God had heard us. When I returned the next day, David had been moved from intensive care. Though extremely weak, he was talking intelligently and walking with a little help. I could hardly keep from jumping up and down and shouting "Praise the Lord" for the entire hospital to hear! Let them think we were fanat– had given us the victory!

That was twenty years ago. And since that time David Wallis has been a missionary in South India. Yet for me, this experience was much more than a marvelous healing of a very sick young man. Through our desperate prayer and fasting, God had allowed us to have a part in changing Port Moresby– a city of seventy-five thousand souls. Not that we were the only ones; I'm sure God had other intercessors, as well. But our prayers helped push back the forces of darkness impeding the evangelization of that place. In a city that, at the time, had only five people who claimed to be Spirit-filled, now there are five large Charismatic congregations, as well as vital renewal movements in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and United churches. We almost had a casualty. But Jesus had given us the victory, and He had stirred my interest in the whole matter of spiritual warfare. It was the beginning of a quest. An answer began to emerge. I became very excited as I began to see what every Christian had at his or her disposal– the power to walk in personal victory, and the power to reach the world, setting communities and nations free from bondage. This was more than a fringe subject– we began to see that we are all called to be warriors, and we must all learn how to fight.

(From Dean Sherman's book: "Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian")

 May the praise of God be in their mouths  
 and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations
 and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters,
 their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them.
 This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. 
 Psalm 149:6-9  

The Power of Praise

(praise: expressing our worship through arts +creativity)

  • The power behind praise is the word of God Heb 4.12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
  • The devil also knows the Word of God but misuses it to his own advantage. It is not enough to know about the Word. Lk 4.1-13 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil... 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. 14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
  • The Word of God confuses, thwarts, defeats the enemy 2 Chron 20:21-23 Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
  • The Word of God is truth and destroys the enemy 2 Thess 2:8-11 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Praise (arts + creativity) focuses our attention (and the enemy's) on God

  • proclaims the kingship of God
  • the sound of praise is offensive to the prince of the power of the air (Archon: primary prince of devils. The air/atmosphere was generally regarded as the region inhavitied by spirits, fallen angels, demons. Eph. 2:2; Mt.12:24-26
  • praise implements/puts into effect God's victory
  • hearing what God is saying and speak/sing/shout it out is a prophetic act

Old Testament Warfare

The ark of God was believed to be possessed of special virtue in assuring victory, and, because it was identified in the eyes of the Israelites with the presence of Yahweh, it was taken into battle (1 Sam 4:3).

Deut 20:1-4 20:1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."

The one thing necessary for a "holy war" was that Israel trust in God without any doubt or reservations. But the nation increasingly put its trust in the powers of the day, wealth, and political alliances

1 Sam 4:3-7 3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies." 4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 When the ark of the LORD's covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, "What's all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?" When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. "A god has come into the camp," they said. "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before.

The Kingdom of God versus the kingdom of Darkness The kingdom of God = where God rules and reigns in me, in others, in stuctures and organizations The kingdom of Darkness = where Satan rules and reigns... in people, structures and organizations

Our Enemy - Know Your Enemy

Eph 6:10-17 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. NIV

Lucifer is not another god -- the god of evil vs. the God of good. God and Satan are not equal counterparts. Lucifer is only a fallen angel. Satan deceives many about this!

It surprises me how many people, Christians included, think Lucifer is like another god. They believe God is the God of good and Satan is the god of evil; they are seen as equals, standing in opposition. Satan has tricked millions with this lie.

This is a heathen view of the world that places God and Satan as opposites like some Oriental yin and yang.They are not equal counterparts. Only God is God. He is the great uncreated Creator. He is eternal and infinite. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (everywhere at all times), and sovereign (having supreme authority). Lucifer is only a fallen archangel-created, finite, and extremely limited in knowledge, ability, and space. He doesn't know everything. He can't do everything. And he can only be in one place at one time.

The Christian view of the universe describes one, incomparable Supreme Being. The concept of two beings ruling over two equal and opposing kingdoms with the victory shifting from side to side is taught in Hinduism, as well as other Eastern religions. But the forces of good and evil do not counter or balance one another. Although the Bible calls Satan the "god of this world," this only denotes a position of authority over his own deceptive system. The angels threw Lucifer out of heaven, and he became Satan, establishing his kingdom of darkness. And now, we battle him in the name and authority of Jesus.

God has never fought the devil and never will. The idea of God fighting Satan is even more absurd than me wrestling an ant. God is infinitely greater in every respect. God can never fight Satan, which is precisely why we are supposed to carry out the battle in the power of God.

Equally absurd was Lucifer's attempt to be like God. Satan can never be like God. It is not possible for the created to become the uncreated. The finite can never become the infinite. God is God, and there is nothing in the universe that is remotely like Him.

D.Sherman (Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian)

Isa 14:11-15 11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; Isa 14:11 The instrument referred to by the word 'viol' neebel (OT:5035), plur. nebaliym , Greek nabla , Latin "nablium"), was a stringed instrument usually with twelve strings, and played by the pecten or by the hand (from Barnes' Notes) maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. 12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. NIV

Ezek 28:11-19 12 "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold;on the day you were created they were prepared. (The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. NKJV ) 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. 18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. 19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.'"

This is commonly understood as an allusion to Lucifer, once a cherubim angel responsible for guarding the presence of the Lord on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant or in the Garden of Eden (at the gateway).Exo.25:22 He is described in decoration with precious stones and jewels, with the music of hand and wind instruments with him (inferring a particular affinity between Lucifer and riches and music). He was close to the presence of God and surrounded by worship to God... perhaps he became confused (by the deceit and pride in his heart, like the donkey who bore Jesus into Jerusalem, that he was the object of praise, not God.

Just How Bad is the Devil?

By Dean Sherman ("Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian", Chapter "Knowing Your Enemy")

The devil always fights dirty. Satan sees our down times as his opportunities. True to his nature, he strikes hardest when we are weakest. We can expect no less than this from our enemy. We must not underestimate how evil Satan is, nor how terrible his intentions toward us are.

Satan knew that man could use or misuse the authority given to him. When man disobeyed God, Satan was able to usurp man's authority. Just as God transferred some of His authority to man, so man passed it on to Satan. Yet Satan does not have complete authority. He cannot simply rule the world. Man gave his authority to Satan in Eden, but Satan can only use it through man. Satan can only influence the world to the degree that man chooses to sin and live in disobedience to God. Therefore Satan is relentless in his attacks because he utterly hates us and hates being limited by us. He desires our complete destruction, which releases more influence to him in the world. There is no goodness in him at all. He is absolutely void of virtue and compassion. This is his nature and he is not going to change.

Think of the most evil, grotesque things people do to one another. Think of the ovens in Nazi concentration camps, or lamp shades made of human skin. Think how many horrible ways men have conceived of torturing and murdering one another .. tying people atop a pile of logs and watching them burn, or binding arms and legs to four horses, which gallop in four directions, tearing the victim apart. Remember the Gulag Archipelago, or the bombing of black churches in the South, killing little girls in their Sunday best. Think how some parents can rape a four-month-old baby or pour scalding water on their children. Men do unspeakable things to one another-obscene, monstrous acts of violence. Every day in prisons around the world, eyes and fingernails are plucked out and people are forced to eat their own excrement. In witches' covens, babies are killed and eaten. I met some people in a refugee camp in Thailand who told me terrible stories of soldiers slicing open pregnant women and little unborn babies falling out into the mud as the rest of the family stood watching in anguished disbelief.

We recoil in horror from these terrible things that men do to one another. For the most part, we are sheltered from the terror of these realities. But these things have all been spawned by our enemy. Satan is far worse than anything real or imagined. We must have a revelation of our enemy. Just as we need a divine revelation of God's goodness, mercy, and love, so we must also have a revelation of Satan's evil and destructive power.

The devil has no sense of fair play. He has no mercy. When we are down, he kicks us. Like a shark, he moves in for the kill when he smells blood. He is full of hatred, and thrives on torment. When the tragedies come-when you've failed at school, when you've lost your job, when your husband or wife has cheated on you, when your family has been killed in a car crash-that's when the devil pulls out all the stops and pursues you with savage vigor.

It is only human to be devastated when tragedy strikes us, and to experience emotional trauma. But during these times, we must also remain aware, watching for the attack of the enemy.

Satan marks our weakness, whether it be lust, doubt, or depression. He waits patiently for a perfect opportunity, and then plants seeds of destruction in our lives. While he watches them take root, we notice it too late or not at all.

Our responsibility is to recognize the enemy's consistency and surprise him by searching for areas of weakness that have caused us to fail in the past.

The True King -- Know Your God

God's Kingly authority (Isaiah 9:6,7) 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever NIV

"If you're impressed with the power of Satan you'll be afraid. If you're impressed with the power of God, you'll know no fear." Joy Dawson

Kingdom of Darkness

The facts 1/3 of angelic hosts limited power limited presence, can't read thoughts (I Cor 2.6-16), defeated foe (Col 2.15)

Satan's strategies

Lie, steal, kill, destroy (Jn 10.10), deceive (2 Cor 11.14-15) Accuse + blind (2 Cor 4.4) Cause division + darkness (1 Thess 5.7)

Kingdom of God

The facts Ps 139.2,4 2/3 of angelic host omni-potent omni-present (Matt 4.8-11, 28.18) victorious

God's strategy The Church 1.receive marching orders (Judges 7.17-25, Jos 5.13-6.27) 2.go forward in His name, in His ways (1 Chron 13.16: 2 Chron 20) 3.in His presence 4.proclaim The Truth Praise the King *corporately (2 Chron 20), privately, publicly, individually (under His authority)

Our Warfare

Eph 6:10-12 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 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. Engaging in warfare (Lk 14.31)

a)Our weapons (train and know how to use them) 2 Cor 10.3-6

  1. Word of God
    • high praises of God (sing WoG)
    • word of our testimony Rev 12.11 (witness to the WoG) #
  • sword of the Spirit (wield WoG)
  1. Name of Jesus Prov 18.10
  2. Blood of Jesus

Our Defense

Eph 6.10-18

Against the Devil

  • Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
  • 2 Cor 2:10-11 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven-if there was anything to forgive-I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
  • James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
  • Rev 12:16-17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Against the Flesh

  • Gal 5:16-18 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
  • 1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

Against the World

  • 2 Cor 10:3-6 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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.
  • 1 John 5:4-5 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

The combat for which we are to be prepared is against the several ranks of devils, who have a government which they exercise in this world.

  1. We are dealing with a subtle enemy 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 4:1 He uses tricks and schemes. He has a thousand ways of luring unstable souls; that's why he is called a serpent, a subtle and crafty old serpent, experienced in the art and trade of tempting.
  2. We are dealing with a powerful enemy 1 Jn. 5:19; Acts 26:18 Principalities, and powers, and rulers. They are numerous, they are vigorous; and rule in places which are yet in darkness. The dark parts of the world are the seat of Satan's empire. Satan's is a kingdom of darkness; whereas Christ's is a kingdom of light.
  3. We are dealing with enemies which are spiritual, not physical Job 1:7 'Spiritual wickedness in high places', or wicked spirits, as some translate it. The devil is a spirit, a wicked spirit; and our danger is the greater from our enemies because they are unseen, and assault us before we become aware of them. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible)

Armor of God

Eph 6:10-18 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

  • The belt of truth
  • The breastplate of righteousness * The preparation of the gospel "Shoes, or shinguards of brass, were formerly part of the military armour (1 Sam 17:6): the use of them was to defend the feet against the traps and sharp sticks, which were laid secretly in the way, to obstruct the marching of the enemy. The preparation of the gospel of peace signifies a prepared and resolved frame of heart, to adhere to the gospel and abide by it, which will enable us to walk with a steady pacein the face of the difficulties and dangers that may be in it. It is called the gospel of peace because it brings all sorts of peace, peace with God, with ourselves, and with one another. " (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible)
  • The shield of faith Our enemy the devil is here called the wicked one. He is wicked himself, and he endeavours to make us wicked. His temptations are called darts, because of their swift and undiscerned flight, and the deep wounds that they give to the soul; fiery darts, by way of allusion to the poisonous darts which were wont to inflame the parts which were wounded with them, and therefore were so called, as the serpents with poisonous stings are called fiery serpents. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are the darts which Satan shoots at us. Faith is the shield with which we must quench these fiery darts, wherein we should receive them, and so render them ineffectual, that they may not hit us, or at least that they may not hurt us. Observe, Faith, acted upon the word of God and applying that, acted upon the grace of Christ and improving that, quenches the darts of temptation. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible)
  • The helmet of salvation 1 Thess. 5:8
  • The sword of the Spirit
  • Called "the armor of God,"
  • Called "the armor of righteousness," 2Cor 6:7
  • Called "the armor of light," Rom. 13:12
  • Not carnal 2 Cor. 10:14
  • Mighty through God 2 Cor.10:4-5
  • The whole, is required Eph 6:13
  • Must be put on Rom 13:12; Eph. 6:11
  • To be on the right hand and left, meaning both: "to attack and to defend." 2Cor 6:7


  • Victory in, is from God 1 Cor 15:57; 2Cor 2:14
  • Through Christ Rom 7:25; I Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 12:9; Rev.12:11
  • By faith Heb. 11:33-37; 1 Jn 5:4,5
  • Over the Devil Rom 16:20; 1 Jn 2:14
  • Over the flesh Rom 7:24; 1:25; Gal 5:24
  • Over the world 1 Jn 5:4,5
  • Over death and the grave Isa 25:8; 26:19; Hos 13:14; 1Cor 15:54,55
  • Triumphant Rom 8:37; 2 Cor 10:5

The Christian life is represented as a warfare, and the Christian graces are also represented under the figure of pieces of armour (Eph 6:11-17; 1 Thess 5:8; 2 Tim 2:3,4). The final blessedness of believers is attained as the fruit of victory (Rev 3:21). (from Easton's Bible Dictionary)

Our Role in Battle

Our duty is: to take and put on the whole armour of God and then, standing our ground, to withstand or resist our enemies.

  1. We must withstand (vs.13) We must not yield to the devil's allurements and assaults, but oppose them. Satan is said to stand up against us, 1 Chron 21:1. If he stand up against us, we must stand against him; set up, and keep up, an interest in opposition to the devil. Satan is the wicked one, and his kingdom is the kingdom of sin: to stand against Satan is to strive against sin. That you may be able to withstand in the evil day, in the day of temptation, or of any sore affliction.
  2. We must stand our ground, and, having done all, stay standing. We must resolve, by God's grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we are insecure or not fully trusting in our cause, our Leader, or our armour, we give the devil an advantage. Our present business is to withstand the assaults of the devil, and to endure. Then, having done all that is part of being good soldiers of Jesus Christ, our warfare will be accomplished, and we shall be finally victorious.
  3. We must take our stand in full armor The Christian must be in complete armor: a divine armor: the Armour of God, armor of light, (Rom 13:12); Armour of righteousness (2 Cor 6:7). The armor is both offensive and defensive. The military girdle or belt, the breast-plate, the greaves (soldier's shoes, including shinguards), the shield, the helmet, and the sword. Notice that there is none for the back. If we turn our back upon the enemy, we lie exposed. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible)

Additional Notes:

When there is a relationship conflict that seems to be "unresolvable", my first suspicion needs to be the devil and his demons.

Jesus said in John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

It's important to ask the questions: "What does the enemy want to steal from these people?"; "What does the enemy want to kill in these people?"; and "What does the enemy want to destroy in or through these people?"

  • Steal: NT:2813 klepto (klep'-to); a primary verb; to filch: steal.
  • Kill: NT:2380 thuo (thoo'-o); a primary verb; properly, to rush (breathe hard, blow, smoke), i.e. (by implication) to sacrifice (properly, by fire, but genitive case); by extension to immolate (slaughter for any purpose): KJV - kill, (do) sacrifice, slay.
  • Destroy: NT:622 apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee); from NT:575 and the base of NT:3639; NT:3639 olethros (ol'-eth-ros); from a primary ollumi (to destroy; a prolonged form); ruin, i.e. death, punishment: KJV - destruction.] to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: KJV - destroy, die, lose, mar, perish. APOL'LYON (a-pol'yun; "destroyer"). The Gk. equivalent (Rev 9:11) of Abaddon (a-bad'don; Grk. Abaddon, "destruction"). The angel of the bottomless pit (Rev 9:11), and corresponding to Apollyon, "destroyer." The word abaddon means destruction (Job 31:12), or the place of destruction, i.e., Hades or the region of the dead (Job 26:6; 28:22; Prov 15:11).

Perhaps it is the person himself that the enemy is after -- to steal their joy, their hope and calling or to physically harm them, destroying their Christian faith is his ultimate goal. It could be larger than the individuals involved and the purpose of the enemy is to attack an organisation or a ministry -- to squelch it or undermine it's effectiveness.

Prayer, Warfare and the Unreached

Case study: J. O. Fraser, the China Inland Mission missionary sought in the early 1900's to reach the Lisu tribe - an unreached group in southwest China. His biography Behind the Ranges tells us that he labored for a number of years as a solitary missionary, saw his few converts falling back into demonism and he himself began to come under awful oppression - even to the point of suicidal despair. He got so discouraged but fortunately he didn't give way to that. He wrote home and said to his mother, "could you gather together some Christian friends and begin to intercede for me and for the Lisu people?" The result was that over the next few years an amazing breakthrough began to occur. His wife wrote a description of his experience. "He described to me how in his early years he had been all but defeated by the forces of darkness arrayed against him. He came to the place where he asked God to take away his life rather than allow him to labor on without results. Then he told me of the prayer forces that took up the burden at home and the tremendous lifting of the cloud over his soul of the gift of faith that was given him and how God seems suddenly to step in, drive back the forces of darkness and take the field."

Most missionaries have such experiences, where it seems like the powers of darkness just overwhelm you.

Prayer is an absolutely strategic weapon in reaching the unreached

Fraser said "we work on our knees. It seems that it is the prayer of God's people that calls down blessing upon the work, whether they are directly engaged in it or not. Therefore Christians at home can do as much for foreign missions as those who are actually out there."

He related his experience with spiritual warfare and the sense of the enemy working among the Lisu, and wrapping them around with a poison gas so it just make it hard for them to even respond to his efforts. But then there was a breakthrough and then hundreds of families accepted Christ and ultimately a people movement began. Tens of thousands came to Christ as well and they became a missionary tribe so it's a great success story in modern missions.

What would have happened if Fraser had not managed to get that support group of intercessors together? What if he had not managed to link them in an ongoing way by supplying them with current information on the Lisu people, what would have happened? Would the breakthrough have actually occurred? Could it be that prayer is a crucial missing link in the accomplishment of world evangelization?

The Nature of Prayer

Prayer links us both to God and to the peoples in the cities and countries that we are concerned with.

A.T. Pierson, musing over the failure of his generation to evangelize the world by 1900, attributed that most of all to a lack of prevailing prayer. He said, "every time a church has set herself to praying there have been gigantic movements in the mission world. If only we would transfer the stress of our dependence and emphasis - from appeals to men to appeals to God - from trust in organization to trust in supplication - from confidence in methods to importunate prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit, we would see results more astounding than have been yet wrought."

Jonathan Goforth wrote these words expressing his disillusionment that the Edinburgh Conference on Missions (1910) had not really taken hold of this whole issue appropriately. "Listening to the addresses that day one could not but conclude that the giving of the gospel to lost mankind was largely a matter of better organization, better equipment, more men and women. Symptoms indeed were not lacking but a few more sparks might have precipitated an explosion. But no, the dethronement of the idol of ecclesiastical self-sufficiency was apparently too great a price to pay. We still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that 'it is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit.'"

We still face the danger of falling into that same temptation of thinking if we just got better organized, if we were better coordinated, if we had more resources, if we got better deployed, we could, we could do it. Could we be guilty of treating prayer as if it were a nice add-on to the other 'strategic things' we are up to? Could it be that we've ignored the most strategic activity in accomplishing world evangelization?

Why Prayer is Our Most Strategic Weapon in Missions:

God Desires and Requires Intercessory Prayer for the Accomplishment of His Salvation Purpose for the Peoples of the Earth.

Ezekiel 36 Why does God require and desire intercession? God originally gave dominion of the earth to humankind and that dominion has never been revoked. When we are redeemed in Christ we are expected to exercise that dominion through prayer once again. Satan's dominion is really an illegitimate dominion. It's a usurped dominion which took place because of our rebellion. Now, as God's redeemed children, when we pray - Jesus said pray that God's will will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven. Not just because it's a nice liturgical thing to do. But because as we pray, "Thy will be done here on earth" - it opens the door for the Lord to do something. He's given dominion to us and unless we pray, somehow there's a hindrance to the fulfilment of His purpose.

Ephesians 2:2 talks about our being seated at the right hand of Christ in the heavenly places and being joined to Him through prayer. We're joined through the Holy Spirit with the risen Christ and as we pray, we're far above all the other dominions, all the other authorities because we're joined to the one who's got all authority in Heaven and on earth. That's the importance of intercessory prayer and why God requires it of us.

Victory in the Spiritual Realm is Primarily Won by Prayer

Num 21:4-9 The story of Moses' intercession " But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"

6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived." NIV

2 Chronicles 20 - The story of King Jehoshaphat.

"2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard..." NIV

Prayer Has Always Undergirded and Extended the Missionary Outreach for the Church

Prayer is mentioned over thirty times in the book of Acts. Generally it's mentioned as occurring before major breakthroughs in the outward expansion of the early Christian movement. Also the apostles let it be known what their priority in mission was. "We will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word." Prayer was so compellingly important that they delegated the administrative tasks to others. The Moravian movement and their one hundred year prayer meeting got the whole of modern missions off to a start. William Carey tried to put all the information about the world and its countries on one homemade map and he turned that information into heartfelt intercession. It wasn't just up there on the wall. I believe it was the research that he had done, the information he gathered, and the fact that he turned it into prayer that really led to the beginning of his own call and involvement in missions - then the missions movement from England which he fathered, onto the Haystack prayer meeting in 1806, and the beginning of the American missions movement.

The story of missions has been the story of answered prayer. Every fresh outbreak of missionary energy has been the result of believing prayer.

Spiritual Revivals Wrought by Prayer Have Powerfully Impacted Missions

Perhaps the greatest strategy of Satan is to deceive missionaries into thinking that we are really wasting our time when we pray and ask God to intervene. We need nothing short of the power of the Holy Spirit to break the resistance of unreached people groups. The greatest warfare we face now is the devil convincing us that revival has no relationship to mission. He's afraid that we will "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest." Satan is afraid for us to link up to God. One of the keys is to link revival and mission together.

Intercessory Prayer Enables God's Children to Possess Their Inheritance, the Peoples of the Earth

Psalm 2 - "ask of Me and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession." The only thing we can take with us into eternity is other people. In the history of missions, the great ingatherings into the church have been linked to strong persistent praying. Wesley Duwell of OMS International recently said their work in India had only one church planted per year. They decided to recruit one thousand people to pray fifteen minutes a day for their work. The difference that made was astonishing and the national workers couldn't even believe the difference. The result was twenty five churches with two thousand believers growing to five hundred fifty churches with more than 73,000 believers. They were doing everything else the same way and he attributes the turning of the tide to the volume of prayer that they marshalled on their behalf.

Effective Mission Strategies Come From Research Immersed in Prayer

Joshua the spy/researcher who went into the land of Canaan could easily have said "now I know all about those people. We're just going to go in and conquer" but as you read the book of Joshua, he was continually seeking the mind of the Lord. The Lord gave him the strategies. Research facts immersed in prayer is an unstoppable combination when it comes to reaching the unreached. John Dawson's book, "Taking our Cities for God: How to break spiritual strongholds."

Prayer is the Supernatural Way of Multiplying and Sending Out Christian Workers Into Missions

Luke 10:1-2 2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field NIV

Prayer Opens Closed Doors for Occupation by a Christian Presence

Paul asked the believers to pray "that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ". The anti-Christian bastions of Romania and Albania - within the last year the Lord has opened up those countries. Can He not do the same thing in the Middle East? Can He not do the same thing in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, etc.

Spiritual Warfare Breaks the Control of the Powers of Darkness Over People Groups, Cities and Nations

We're rediscovering in the missions movement that the issue in reaching the unreached is one of spiritual power more than anything else. The links of darkness, the links that tie unreached people groups, cities and countries to principalities[1] and powers. It's just like the Lord versus the gods of Egypt and Baal. Ephesians 6 says that we're all involved in an unseen world with the powers of darkness. Obviously if we're going to see missionary breakthroughs we need to learn how to use that offensive weapon of prayer to dislodge the powers of darkness.

In Japan many are still bound up in occultism. Every school child in Japan carries an amulet and that the great majority of Japanese still go to Shinto shrines and they have Shinto priests dedicate every building. The society is en-wrapped with occultism and it has not been broken as yet. We can be easily fooled by seeing how modern, how technological, Japan is. Mark 3:27 is very significant from the standpoint of binding of the strongman who may be the source of resistance. The people themselves are not resistant. It may be that there's a spiritual strongman that is putting up the resistance and until that being is neutralized we're not going to see a response to the gospel.

  1. [A "principality" isn't a demon, it's an area. The controller of a principality is called a PRINCE! (root word of prince-ipality). The meaning of the Bible verse is that our struggle is not against people but against the systems of the world, the powers of the world, and corruption. It doesn't necessarily mean spirits at all, except the add-on of " ... and spiritual wickedness in high places" which could refer to demons. So even then, the verse reads, "our struggle is against the world-systems and also against the demonic hordes".]

Omar Cabrera, a pastor evangelist in Argentina, went from pastoring a church of twenty to pastoring a church of one hundred forty thousand - not with a lot of great advertising and slick approach but through the basics of prayer and fasting. He entered areas that he was planning to evangelize but before doing any preaching, he would rent a room and he would pray and fast for a few days. These principalities, these spirit beings, would manifest to him in the process of prayer and fasting. He says that's what really brings it out. You go on their territory. You begin to pray and fast and aggressively go after them and they'll come and they'll say things like "this is my area. You have no right to be here". He said, "no. You've got it wrong. You have no right to be here and I bind you in the name of the One who has all authority in Heaven and on earth." They just go like that and when the top one is gone, he said the mood of the whole town or city changes. Where there may have been resistance before, it's just broken loose and there's just a responsiveness - people by the hundreds and the thousands coming to Christ, extraordinary signs and wonders, miracles of healing, etc.

We would do well to apply these kinds of experiences to missions.

We need to look for ways to link the global prayer movement with missions. The Global Prayer Digest, the Adopt-a-People effort, and linking unreached people groups with praying congregations.

Resources: John Robb, Manny Hooper, and Larry Allmon and the ISFM annual conference

More from Dean Sherman: Sherman's Relationship Notes