Spiritual Warfare

Such worship will also lead us into another form of prayer: the fight against God's Enemy, Satan himself. Some people call this kind of prayer spiritual warfare because they see it as taking part in a battle against the powers of darkness. Jesus seems to encourage this kind of prayer:

            'When you pray.....say........Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. '(Mattew 6:13)
    The verb to 'temp' means to 'test'. And almost as soon as Jesus had been baptized, the Spirit let him into the wilderness where Satan tested him. Satan hoped that Jesus would fail the test just as Adam and Eve had done soon after the creation of the world. But Jesus did not fail. He  passed.
    That is not to say the test was easy. Satan waited until Jesus was tired and weak from forty days of fasting. Then he came to him and tempted him with the things humans value most: power, possessions and the opportunity to be praised by people. Each time he had only one ambition in life: to do the will of God.
    Jesus knew that Satan would try to make us fail. So he begs his Father to protect us from the Evil One (John 17:15). And Peter and Paul both warn us that Satan will never be far away:

            'Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for
             someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because  you know that your brothers
             thought the world are undergoing  the same kind of suffering.' (1 Peter 5:8)

          'Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against
            the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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.' (Ephesians 6:12,13)

    For Paul, the whole universe seemed like one big battle-ground where Christians would  need to fight ungodly attitudes, sin within themselves and the invisible but powerful network of evil which Satan weaves. While he was writing about these things, he was chained to a Roman soldier. That may explain why, in his letter to deal with Satan is to put on God's armor: the belt of truth, the breast-plate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, God's Word and then he adds:

            '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.    (Ephesians  6:18)
    For some people to pray ' in the Spirit' means to pray in tongues- the kind of prayer we were looking at in the last chapter. For others, to pray 'in the Spirit' means to open ourselves to God so that when he needs our prayers, the Holy Spirit can pray though us. As Paul reminds us, we must pray 'with all kinds of prayers and requests.'
    Paul also begs us to pray  'on all occasions', that is, all the time. We must pray not just when we are in our place of prayer but when we are at work or at play, in church or with family or friends. God is always with us. He has promised never ever to leave us or forsake us so we can send up prayers like arrows to him at any time of the day or night and in any place. Finally, Paul asks us to pray for one another because Satan is at work in every country in the world.
    And using the Name of Jesus, we can pray with authority because Satan was defeated by the death and Resurrection of occasion. I was about to explore a certain path when I went on a walk  on one barking at me loudly and angrily. 'Be quiet!' I said in an authoritative tone of voice. Immediately, the barking stopped. 'That's just like Satan,' I thought, 'He makes a lot of noise and still has a certain amount of power but when we turn to him and say, " In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be gone!", his power is broken. Jesus is Lord.'
    As Lord, he encourages us to practice the prayer of forgiving, receiving forgiveness and fighting his Enemy. He also wants us to learn to listen to him.

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