The Bible shows us clearly that we are engaged in a battle that is taking place in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we are not wrestling against “flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (NKJV). We are engaged in this battle because we’ve been enlisted as soldiers in God’s army.1 God has given us an armour and weapons that are suitable for this warfare. Prayer is a mighty weapon He has given to the church. If we learn how to use it skilfully, we will experience great results, appropriating the victory Christ has won for us. 2
Following are some guidelines concerning the power of prayer in spiritual warfare. These can be applied in our homes, churches, workplaces, areas where we live, or even the nations.
The first few are taken from Ephesians 6:18, which is written after the Apostle Paul lists the components included in the armour of God. It states, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
That exhortation indicates that we must pray “at all seasons.”3 We are to be consistent in prayer, in good times and in bad. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus said, “But, when you pray, go into your room ...” Daily, habitual, personal prayer times build consistency in our lives. In the secret closet of prayer we deepen our relationship with God. It is also beneficial to be consistent in praying with our families—praying together brings us closer to each other and to God. We must pray with Christians also. Acts 4:24-31 shows the New Testament Christians joining together in prayer as they endured persecution. God told the children of Israel that five of them would chase a thousand (of their enemies), and a hundred of them would “put ten thousand to flight.”4 This principle can be applied in the spiritual realm too. There is strength in numbers.
Pray with all kinds of prayer.
We are encouraged here to use various types of prayers. First Timothy 2:1 mentions a few. Supplication is making requests to God. I believe that it is the most common type of prayer. Intercession involves “seeking the presence and hearing of God on behalf of others.”5 We are to pray not only for ourselves, but for others also— political leaders, fellow believers, and for all people. Thanksgiving is another type of prayer. We are exhorted in Philippians 4:6 to give thanks to God as we lift our requests to Him. This is done while we pray, not after we see the answers. Prayers of repentance are a key to getting God’s attention. To repent involves confession of one’s sins to God and turning away from them. God has promised to hear and to heal the land when we pray and turn from evil ways.6 Sometimes it is necessary to repent on behalf of others, as Nehemiah did.7 Praying for God’s protection is important. Jesus taught us to pray for the Father to “deliver us from the evil one.”8 We are no match for the devil, and it is wise to ask God daily for His protection.
Pray in the Spirit.
To pray in the Spirit involves praying in tongues.9 When we pray in tongues, it is our spirit that prays. We may not understand what we are saying, but we must trust the Holy Spirit. When I was a student at the West Indies School of Theology, I had a memorable prayer experience. One day I prayed at length in tongues, and the only word I recognized was “Punjab.” I knew it was an area in India where, at that time, there were continuous deathly riots between Christians and Sikhs. The day after I prayed, while on campus, I heard on the BBC world news that there had almost been a riot in the Punjab district, but it had been averted. The riot did not take place, and they have not continued since. Praying in the Spirit at God’s prompting overcame evil. There may have been other believers whom God also prompted to pray in the Spirit at the same time I was.
Keep on the alert spiritually.
The term “being watchful” refers to alertness. In Matthew 26:41, Jesus exhorted His disciples to “watch and pray.” “The word [watch] expresses not mere wakefulness, but the watchfulness of those who are intent upon a thing.”10 Some years ago, I was on a short-term mission trip in Malawi. I had gone from the capital city to another city to speak. I became sick with malaria and had to remain in that city. When I felt better, I went downtown one day and met a lady who lived in the capital city. I told her about my illness, and she replied that she had been praying for me, specifically against malaria. She had no earthly way of knowing I was sick, but she had been on the alert.
Depend upon the Holy Spirit and trust Him for revelation.
Romans 8:26 says that “the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought.”11 It is good to wait upon the Holy Spirit to direct us in praying. He is also the One who gives us the revelation we need regarding the situations we face. Jesus said that “the Spirit of truth ... will guide you into all truth.” Almost 20 years ago, there were a series of tragic accidents on a particular section of a major highway about three hours’ drive from where I live. I asked the Lord the reason for those accidents. He told me there was a witchcraft curse over that area of the highway. I understood what He said because I had read a book that was written by a former witch. She had explained that when individuals desire to move up in witchcraft clubs, they may be required to shed blood and can cause people to die. I prayed for some time against that curse, commanding it to be broken in Jesus’ name. He broke it. The accidents that took the lives of innocent people on that stretch of the highway ended.
Identify the forces that are operating.
We can sometimes easily identify evil forces which may be at work. They are seen in the major problems that exist in our homes, communities or nation. Is there sudden rebellion in your children? Are there problems with crime, alcohol or drugs in your neighbourhood? I shared this teaching in Kenya, in an area where their local churches were being split up. The pastor who was overseeing the churches realized that the divisions were being caused by demonic forces. He asked another pastor to pray, and together we stood against those forces. A few months later, I met that overseer and he had a testimony. Churches that had broken up were reunited, and the pastors who had caused splits repented. Spiritual issues are also revealed as we read or listen to news. We can pray about the problems and bring about change.
Use the Word of God in prayer.
In Acts 4, as the believers prayed against the satanic persecution the church faced, they quoted Scripture from the Old Testament.12 Ephesians 6:17 tells us to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As we pray, it is important to declare what God’s Word states. For example, if we are praying against a spirit of death in an area, we can declare that Jesus came “that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” 13
Exercise your God-given authority.
Jesus gave His disciples authority over “all the power of the enemy.”14 That privilege is still ours today. We can speak directly to opposing spirits in the name of Jesus.15 Recently, some friends were having a long-standing problem with one of their neighbours and asked me to help them pray. The man in question was leaving his garbage bins full of waste at the front of his property, next to theirs, and it would remain uncollected and unsightly. I reminded them that we are not fighting against “flesh and blood.” Together we prayed against the spirits that were causing that problem. The next week, the man put his garbage out for collection and took his bins back inside afterward. When we speak, God works. Sometimes there may be immediate results. At other times, we have to keep standing in prayer for a long time before we see any change.
Prayer is a powerful weapon that God has provided for us as we engage in spiritual warfare. When we employ it skilfully, we will experience tremendous victories—not just for ourselves, but for others. As we yield ourselves to the Lord, He will use us to pray in a manner that brings change. Are there some areas where you can identify the enemy’s work and pray against it even now?
Angela Lynch is an ordained minister with the Western Ontario District of the PAOC. She is an itinerant missionary and the founder of Focus On The World Ministries Inc. Visit https://www.focusontheworld.org.
- 2 Timothy 2:3.
- 2 Corinthians 2:14.
- W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 54.
- Leviticus 26:7, 8.
- Vine, Expository Dictionary, 607.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14.
- Nehemiah 1:5-7.
- Matthew 6:13.
- 1 Corinthians 14:14.
- Vine, Expository Dictionary, 1224.
- John 16:13.
- Acts 4:24-26.
- John 10:10.
- Luke 10:19.
- Mark 16:17-18.
This article appeared in the July/August/September 2020 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2020 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photos from Unsplash.