To engage in effective spiritual warfare, you need to know your enemy and your authority, but most of all, you need to know how to fight! Baptist pastor John Piper says that “the number one reason why prayer malfunctions in the hands of . . . believers is that they try to turn a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom. Until you believe that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for.”[i]
There are three questions you should always ask when confronting any kind of conflict in prayer:
What is the enemy’s strategy against this person or place? To answer this question, you need common sense (it’s often quite obvious), wisdom (not all bad things that happen are necessarily demonic), and spiritual discernment (Satan can be a convincing liar). In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul includes the ability of “distinguishing between spirits” in his list of the great spiritual gifts alongside things like prophecy and healing. We need to ask the Lord, therefore, to open our eyes to see and understand what’s going on in the spiritual realm all around us, just as Elisha prayed for his terrified servant “‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around.”[ii]
Having diagnosed the problem, ask yourself, What might God’s better plan be for this person or place? To answer this question, you need to listen carefully to his Word and especially his promises, as well as any intuitions you may receive from the Holy Spirit, as did Uncle Joe in Massachusetts and Daniel in ancient Babylon.
Having discerned what Satan is trying to do and what God is wanting to do, ask yourself, What can I now do, both prayerfully and practically, to thwart Satan’s plan and to welcome God’s better purposes into this person, place, or situation?
The passage of Scripture quoted more often than any other in relation to spiritual warfare is Ephesians 6:11-18, in which the apostle Paul urges us to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” He proceeds to itemize the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, “which is the word of God.”
Taken from How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Greig. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
[i] John Piper, “Prayer: The Work of Missions,” ACMC Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, July 28, 1988, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/prayer-the-work-of-missions.
[ii] 2 Kings 6:17.