By William Hirsche
We have come to the final law which seldom is taken into account. It is that prayer must be aimed against God’s greatest ore, the adversary who is forever on the march mobilizing his forces with keen strategy to thwart the Christian’s cause and to turn against his Christ, the world’s Saviour.
This aggressive type of prayer which is nothing short of warfare has abundant Scriptural authorization. In the Old Testament it appears in brutal form in the great type, Israel, ordered to drive out the Canaanites,
to destroy their cities, to slay their kings and to annihilate their fortresses. They were to enter into no alliances with these demon-controlled peoples, but were to drive them out mercilessly and in turn possess their land. All this finds a perfect correspondence in the great antitype of the Christian’s warfare against the powers of darkness as it is portrayed in the last chapter of Ephesians, where we are told that we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and are admonished to put on the whole armor of God.
Much of the Saviour’s ministry and teaching will remain for us an unsolved riddle is we fail to grasp the significance of this great fact of prayer warfare against the powers of darkness. “No man,” He said, “can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” When the seventy returned from their preaching mission, He said: “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall be any means hurt you.” The so-called “command of faith” which not only sounds strange to many Christians – and among them Christian workers of no mean
category, but only too often is refuted with fiery zeal, was most emphatically laid down as a principle of Christian life and work. In the same breath with which our Lord said, “What things soever ye desire, when
ye pray, believe that ye receive them,” He declared: “Verily I say unto you that whosoever shall say unto this mountain [mountain of satanic oppression] Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23).
This kind of prayer, no longer in vogue but desperately needed in a world whose ruler is the prince of darkness, and which as never before in all its history is woefully experiencing the agony of satanic oppression (may it not be as we read in Rev. 12 that we are now entering upon that stage of history when the enemy knowing that his time is short has come down with great wrath?), has as its rock-bottom foundation the infinitely significant fact that the Redeemer on Calvary’s Cross bruised the serpent’s head. No one dare enter upon this warfare who has not been deeply instructed as to the meaning of redemption in its farthermost scope. The Word of God is most concise and unequivocal in its bearing on this matter. Are we not told that through death, the Saviour destroyed him who had the power of death; that its to say, the devil? Are we not given to understand that “having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the Cross]”? (Col. 2:15).
But this victory, even as remission of sins or any other blessing that springs from the Redeemer’s precious blood shed on Calvary, must be appropriated and made operative through faith. Otherwise the Cross is made of no effect. The enemy and his hosts stalk the land (we are told that he deceives the nations) and takes over even in churches and missions, for where there is worldliness and sin, pride and heresies, rivalries and fleshly ambitions, he finds entrance a simple matter. Where there is no one to challenge his authority on the basis of the Calvary victory he will find a way through subtle machinations in which his uncanny genius is without a parallel, to hold ground and stifle Christian effort. The atmosphere is heavy even in many a church and the Word no longer takes hold with saving power, because the enemy has crept in unawares. The heavens are no longer open for the spiritual manifestation of Him who said, “Lo I am with you alway.”
Some Gideon must arise, and girt with the armor of God, must challenge the foe and, releasing the dynamite of the Cross (the word of the Cross is the power – Greek, dunamis, from whence comes our word dynamite – of God, I Cor. 1:18), he must strike with sure aim. Panic and destruction in the camp of the enemy will be the result.
There is a most fitting illustration of this in Frazer’s Beyond the Ranges. It is the story of a pioneer missionary undertaking in villages on the China-Burma border. Frazer says he daily breathed the fumes of hell. He says that the going was so hard that he was about to give up, utterly discouraged, when a tract fell into his hands which focused his attention upon the fact of the Redeemer’s victory over the powers of darkness through His death and resurrection. The victory, it was pointed out, had to be appropriated and released in the form of a command of faith. Frazer had never thought of this before nor exercised that kind of faith. Being desperate, however, he decided to try it. He went out into a desert place where he was sure to be alone and unobserved and then gave the command of faith hurling, as it were, the fact of the victory of Calvary into the enemy’s ranks. He praised God at the top of his lungs for the Savior’s victory and in His Holy Name commanded the enemy and his hosts to flee. Frazer says it was the turning point in his desperate fight with paganism. The tide turned. The missionary tells how later a mighty revival swept
through these villages on the border of Burma effecting marvelous transformations, God’s Kingdom being established where formerly Satan reigned.
Victory is not always that dramatic. It may be wrought silently on one’s knees. Quietly the Christian may take a stand in his home where, let us presume, the peace of God which passeth all understanding has not
prevailed. There have been tensions, impatience, harsh words, criticism, a heavy atmosphere has robbed the home of its joy. The enemy is forever seeking to inflame the “self-life” with its touchiness and fussiness, its murmerings and its jealousies. The Cross must be brought to bear on this situation. First, as we read in Galatians five where “the works of the flesh” are so mercilessly delineated with the categorical verdict, they
that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. Second, a “stand” must be taken against the working of evil spirits who are out to wreck so far as is possible the Christian home. “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith…” (I Pet. 5:8,9). Jesus the Lord was manifest to destroy the works of the devil. So we are on solid Scriptural ground when in His Name we claim their destruction.
Or it may be a Christian mission far out in pagan lands where through jealousies and pride and envy and personal ambition, the enemy has gained ground on which to stand. The atmosphere is heavy and the Spirit of God is no longer moving with power, giving liberty and joy. Ordinary prayer of the begging type brings no relief. What is to be done? The enemy must be “bound” and cast out. This may not be achieved overnight. The fight may be long and hard. But the victory of Calvary if persistently held up in faith against the evil one and his agents cannot but eventuate in an overthrow of the enemy’s strongholds and a glorious clearing in the spiritual atmosphere; one in which the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself to work great things.
Or it may be a seminary in which the great essentials of the Christian faith are being denied and the rain and futile philosophies of men are made to take their place. One may fight with carnal weapons to no avail. Things may even get worse. However, when some good soldier of Christ who finds himself involved, recognizes at the back of it all the subtle working of Satan and his agents and takes a stand against the powers of darkness, claiming the destruction of their works in the Name of Him who put an end to the rule of the prince of darkness on Calvary, and fights it out, as it were, in the heavenlies with weapons which are not carnal but mighty through God, there comes at last a visible crumbling on the purely human and material side. The victory once won in the unseen realms where the powers of darkness held sway, the edifice of heresy soon goes to pieces on the physical level.
It would seem as though the Christian today is becoming increasingly aware of a purely spiritual and unseen force which the Bible calls the powers of darkness, determined to disturb him through accusations, and relentless in their efforts to stir up fears and doubts. The Christian’s only recourse is prayer. “Lord,” cried the psalmist, “preserve me from the fear of the enemy.” In Psalm 149 we are told of “the judgment written” which all the saints are to execute.
“Now is the judgment of this world,” said Jesus our Lord, as he entered upon La Via Dolorosa which led to the Cross; “Now is the prince of this world cast out.” “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them” (Rev. 12:10-12).
(The above material is taken from Prayer’s Deeper Secrets.)
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