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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « 1 Corinthians 1 Commentary | A Timely Song »

    On Spiritual Warfare: Part 2 of 2 

    Prayer is NOT a weapon

    As far as I can trace it (though I’m sure the idea predates this author), the idea that prayer is, and should be used as, a weapon stems from a Methodist preacher named E.M. Bounds and one of his books, “The Essentials of Prayer" (chapter. "Prayer as a Weapon"), written in the 19th century. (Read the book here: http://www.paradisepbc.org/Articles/Prayer/EssentialsofPrayer.pdf)


    We would do well to take everything a teacher says back to scripture and search carefully to make sure the teaching is true (See: The Bereans in Acts 17:11).


    Nowhere in Scripture, I repeat nowhere in Scripture is prayer described as a weapon. The closest we come to that is in Ephesians 6:10-18 which describes an analogy of the armor of God.

      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 Lord’s people.


    Notice that the key phrase, repeated three times in this passage is “to stand”, not to fight. Notice that there is only one weapon mentioned, “the sword…which is the word of God” (the Bible). Notice that Paul does not portray prayer as either a weapon or armor.


    God is Our Intercessor

    We do not have the power, gifting, or ability to stand in the gap spiritually for another. In looking in my Bible’s concordance I found the only instances in which the terms intercessor or mediator are used, refer to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27; Heb. 9:15).


    We are to defend the truth (the Bible), not to attack the forces of darkness.

     "And do not fear their intimidation and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart always being ready to make an apologeo (a defense) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.(1 Peter 3:14-15)


    “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” (Philippians 1:7)


    "And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas..." (Acts 17:2-4)


    "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." (Colossians 4:5-6)


    How could we surmount an attack anyway, when the Bible says that Jesus’ death on the cross won the victory and defeated sin and death? Satan is already defeated!


    Another search of my concordance revealed that the term “defender” is most often used in reference to God. The battle belongs to the Lord (Proverbs 21:31), He will fight for us (Deut. 1:30-among others), and the victory is His alone for His glory alone (1 Cor. 15:54). We need do nothing besides stand and resist (not fight or attack) Satan,

    Resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7).


    “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58)


    As Christians, we can command Satan to go in Jesus’ name when under attack. But we cannot “take” cities, nations, governments, neighborhoods, schools, etc. for Christ. God’s army and His angels are not ours to command, and there is no Scriptural command to do so.


    The Importance of Prayer

    Prayer is absolutely needed in a Christian’s life. Praying cannot be overestimated. We are exhorted to “pray always” (1 Thess. 5:17) about anything, everything, and in a variety of ways (Eph. 6:18). We are free to pray silently, fervently, prostrate, kneeling, eyes open or closed, etc. (Psalm 66:17).


    We can pray boldly (not bossy, as if God needs us to do His will, or arrogantly as if we have power over God) in the sense that we need not be afraid to come to Him with all kinds of prayers and requests (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  


    But we must also pray humbly (Matt. 6:9-18), because we do not and cannot know or comprehend His full will (Isaiah 55:8-9). This seems to be a sticking point with those who follow WoF or SW teachings.


    In light of all the ways we are allowed to pray, we should be careful not to focus too much on the “power” of prayer, how to make prayer “effectual” (The Bible’s answer is to live righteously, James 5:16) , how prayer “works”, always praying fervently (as if this will get God’s attention. See the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 for why it doesn’t), how to make prayer “special” (it already is!), how to “have a better prayer life” (whatever that means), or attacking Satan with prayer.


    These are all popular phrases and buzzwords in Christianity, but they take the focus off of our special relationship with God, and places it on us and what we can “do” to make prayer, and ultimately God, accomplish what we want.

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