Spiritual Warfare and the Church
When we put too much focus on our enemy, or our problems, they seem larger than our all powerful Lord God. In those moments, we need to step back, take a fresh look at our Lord, and see how small our enemy is by comparison. What did the enemies of the church say about the believers in Acts 17:6? What a badge of honor to wear.
From the early church we see, in the book of Acts, four central elements that were prominent. See if you can find them.
- ______ (1:14; 3:1; 4:24; 6:4)
- _____ ___ _____ (4:32-37)
- ________ ____ (4:19-20)
- __________ _____ (3:12vv; 4:8vv)
Rather than focusing on their problems or the enemy, they focused on the Lord. When we pray, we are doing spiritual warfare. We are invading the enemy’s territory (See Eph. 2:1-2). We do not focus on him, we focus on the Lord, but we are not unaware of the battle that rages.
- Walk in victory
- Walk with your spiritual eyes open
- Be aware of the war that rages
- Review the four elements
- Intercede where the Lord leads
- As you review the four elements that were prominent in the early church, are there any areas where you need to improve?
- Confess this using 1 John 1:9 and then improve in that area.
- Prayer (1:14; 3:1; 4:24; 6:4)
- Living out truth (4:32-37)
- Standing firm (4:19-20)
- Proclaiming truth (3:12vv; 4:8vv)
Prayerwalking and Spiritual Warfare
A pattern has existed for nearly 2,000 years. From the beginning of the New Testament church, that pattern has been response and resistance. There have been and continue to be those who respond favorably and embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior. There have also been those who passively or very actively resist our Lord and His gospel message.
When we face resistance or outright opposition to the gospel, how should we respond? Some of the earliest followers of Jesus give us tremendous insight. What did Peter and John do in Acts 4 when they were told to not mention another word about Jesus?
- They answered respectfully (vv.19-20)
- They fellowshipped with believers (v.23)
- They praised God (vv.24-28)
- They sought boldness to continue (vv.29-31). This boldness has continued down through the years at various levels.
When we face opposition to the gospel message, we are in the midst of spiritual warfare. As we engage in warfare, the words of Ephesians 6:12 are vital. Read that verse and fill in the blanks. We do not fight with ____ _____ but with ____ forces. The opposition we face is often manifested in other people but we do battle with the enemy and evil forces. One of the ways we do battle is on our knees and on our feet in prayer. There are several truths to remember as we engage the enemy and his territory.
- Do not believe Satan. He will lie to you (Gen 3:1-8)
- Do not carry on a conversation with him (vv.2-3)
- Do not focus on him
- Trust God, Jesus, and His Word as you follow the Holy Spirit (John 14:1, 6; 17:17; Rom. 3:4)
- Talk to the Father throughout your day (Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17)
- Focus on the Lord (Heb. 12:1-2)
Throughout Your Day:
- Praise God in prayer as you walk.
- Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
- Go to a place where the enemy has great influence. Claim God’s power and presence on that place to reclaim that ground for His glory.
- Be aware of the tendency to focus on the enemy. Immediately refocus on the Father, our Lord, and the Holy Spirit.
- What did you experience today?
- Did you experience any struggles?
- Did the enemy hinder you in a specific way?
- How did you respond?
Ministering In Unwanted Places
Where will you go today or where should you intentionally go today that for all practical purposes it is marked “Do not enter.” I am not suggesting you violate the laws of the land or put yourself in physical danger. I am speaking of our obedience to follow Christ wherever He leads.
Maybe it is a place where Jesus is not wanted. Maybe it is a person (you feel) would not be interested in hearing the gospel. Who has erected that sign? Have they put up that sign? Did the enemy put up that sign? Was that sign erected by your fears of rejection? We may encounter all three of these today. Would you be willing to adopt the last eight words of Luke 9:57 as your commitment for today and/or for life?
- Make the commitment as you begin your day
- Walk forward with Him
- Is there any place you have been unwilling to prayerwalk but you knew He wanted you to go there? Prayerfully consider going there today.
- Ask God to show you people and places spiritually marked “Do Not Enter.” Pray there.
Being Ready and Available
As you begin this day, think of what prayerwalking is. We could describe it as talking to God for people. It is our expression of His love He gives to us for other people. It includes seeing where people are and joining them. How could you express His love today?
Turn to Luke 19 and read the first ten verses. What do you see there?
- Jesus was walking
- He was passing through a town (Jericho)
- There was a crowd of people
- There was one man (Zacchaeus)
- He was seeking
- He was needy
- He was ready
- Jesus saw him
- Jesus reached out in love
- People nearby did not understand
- His words became a bridge to His heart
- We will be walking today
- There will be many people
- There will be someone who is seeking, needy, and ready
- Walk in touch with our Lord so you can see them as God sees them
- Reach out in love (Remember: He is the initiator we are the responders)
- Your words can become the bridge as you speak to them in love
- Consider your present station in life
- How could God use your present station (job, school, lifestyle) in life as a bridge to others?
- Jot down a few thoughts
- Be open to His insights
- Ask Him to sanctify (make special) your station in life for His glory
- As you encounter people, feel free to tell them what you are doing – that you are praying for people
- Ask them if you can pray for them (“Is there any way I could pray for you?”)
- Some will resist but someone will be ready
- See their readiness as God’s preparation for that heart and life
- If they ask why you are doing this, answer appropriately
- “Because someone prayed for me one day.”
- “Because God has put a love in my heart for people.”
- “Because God has put a love in my heart for you.”
- Be still, be ready, and listen to what they have to say and then, right there, pray for them
- How did you encounter God today?
- Did someone else encounter God through you?
- Praise God for His work today.
Ministry through Prayerwalking
As you head out today, it is unclear at this moment what or whom you might encounter. You may take a usual path / journey or today might be unique. There are people who have needs. Will we see them?
Yesterday, we read in Luke 7:11-17, where Jesus and the disciples were walking. Read those verses again. Jesus and the men encountered a funeral procession. Jesus had compassion on the grieving mother. Today, we would call that empathy: feeling what someone feels.
- Be mindful of hurting people. Some of these people have chosen the lifestyle causing the hurt. Some are being held captive by sin and the enemy.
- Pray for the people God causes you to see.
- Be willing to pray for them especially if you do not approve of their lifestyle choice.
- Be aware of any bondage in your own heart where you need release from bondage.
- Tell our Lord you are willing to pray anywhere He leads you to pray and then follow His lead.
- What did God say and do in you today?
- Did you notice any hurting people?
- Pray for them again and as you do, give Him thanks and praise for your salvation.
- Rest in His freedom tonight.
As you begin (or continue) your day, open your Bible and read Psalm 34. What do you see? What jumps off the page and into your heart?
From there, turn to Luke 7:11-17. Here we have two perspectives; an earthly perspective and a heavenly perspective. Do you see the two? As we prayerwalk, the tug of the flesh would have us see things from an earthly perspective (hopeless and limited). The Spirit would have us see things from a heavenly perspective (hopeful, eternal, expectant, faithful).
Many times our perspective determines our response and in turn determines results. Read Matt. 13:58 and 1 Cor. 2:16. How do these verses relate to perspective?
- Look at things from a heavenly perspective
- Take note of the times your flesh would have you look at things from an earthly perspective
- Pray again for the person or place where evil is allowed to flourish
- Ask someone to join you in praying for this person or this place all the while claiming Psalm 34:3
- Did God stretch you today? How so?
- Did you struggle in any way today? In what way?
- As you prepare for bed, ask to God show you His perspective.
- Rest in Him
Our Prayerwalk Focus
As we prayerwalk there are simultaneous things happening. That might concern us or cause us confusion. Rather than seeing these as “not this but that” our perspective should be “this and that but this is the priority.” Let me explain. Prayerwalking is primarily …
- A way of life but sometimes it is an event
- Before the heavenly community (Heb. 12:1a) and sometimes seen by earthly people
- Looking to God while seeing what He would have us see in the lives of people
- Giving ourselves to Him (in praise, thanksgiving, worship, blessing) as we pray for others not really expecting to get anything from them
- Our service to God first and then to others
According to Psalm 22:3, when we pray, God comes and inhabits that place. He enthrones Himself there. His presence is there in powerful ways. Where we pray (even where He is not wanted and not welcome) somehow through our prayers He comes and takes up residence in that place. Without letting this go to our head but to our heart, we can and should see our prayers as the entry point for His presence. When He comes near, people are affected.
- Pray based on your knowledge of God
- Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine (even familiar) Scriptures that reveal who He is
- Continue to pray in light of this new knowledge of Him
As You Go Throughout Your Day
Think of a place or a person where God is not wanted or welcome. This person or place may openly reject God. It may be where ungodly or vile things take place. Go there (physically if possible) and pray to God for that person or that place. See your prayer as God’s fresh entry point in that place or for that person. Pray in the knowledge you have of God. Lift up His glories. Pray the people there would acknowledge Him and give Him worship. Resist the temptation of thinking, “This will never work. They are too far gone.” Ask God to work in their hearts that they might realize His love and open their hearts to Him.”
- Did God give you any special insight today?
- Did you learn something about Him that you did not know before today?
- Praise Him for His abundant goodness.
Recently, I shared a message from the book of Ecclesiastes. This book in our Old Testament was written as a journal of the things Solomon tried in his search for meaning and purpose in life. After trying all that he tried, his summary word to us would be, “Do not do what I did. Do not try what I tried.”
At the end of the journal (book) he wrote, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”: In the context of remembering, I want to ask you a question and issue a challenge.
- What would you like your family and friends to know or remember about you after you are with the Lord? There may be many things. Record them.
- I challenge you to write your personal salvation testimony. Write it, rewrite it, refine it, and rewrite it in its final form where it could be read by someone in three minutes or so.
- Leave a copy with your personal affects
- Leave a copy at the funeral home where you have made your final arrangements
- Leave a copy at the church office where you are a member
- Give a copy to the minister who will do your memorial service
Your personal, handwritten testimony will be a powerful word to those who are too young to know of your spiritual life now (children, grandchildren, etc.) and those who never knew you but will attend your service because they are friends of a family member. Leave a word for those who will come behind you. This could be very powerful.
As I write this, it is Saturday morning. Over the past few days, you have prayed for different people. You were already acquainted with some of these people. Some of these people you still do not know but they were brought to your attention during a prayerwalk. Pick one (or more) of these people and pray a prayer of blessing over them. In preparation for this, read these passages of Scripture: Num. 6:24-27; 1 Kings 8:56-61; 1 Thess. 5:23-24. Have a great day!
Come back Monday where we will continue with Prayerwalking (Week 4: Day 1)
The Power to Bless
As you travel through life today, pick an area to prayerwalk. A great place to do this would be where you live. Whether you actually walk through your area or drive that area or get out a map and place your hands on that area, pick an area to “prayerwalk” today. As you do so, consider adding this dynamic to your prayer.
- Pray prayers of blessing over the people in that area; God Blessings like
- Let there be light
- Let them see truth
- Let them be released from bondage
- See your prayers as saturating the ground upon which they walk with the power of God for Him to reveal truth
If you wonder whether you have the authority to do this and “bless” people, consider this. Now that we are believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are also called “priests” unto God; a royal “priesthood.” Did you ever or do you see yourself as a priest? (See Rev 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). You do not have to wear a robe or a ceremonial garment to be a priest because you are robed with the righteousness of Christ.
- Prayerwalk your area
- See if you can think of other blessings to pray over the people in your area
- Consider this definition of a blessing: Verbal engagement in agreement with God regarding His desires (which should be our desires) for people.
- Did you have the opportunity to bless someone or several people today?
- Whom did you bless?
- Were they with you or did you do this long distance?
- Was this your first time to actually bless someone in light of the truths we discussed earlier?
If so, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank God for the joy of blessing someone. Reflect on and even journal your experience. Ask Him to continue to give you eyes to see and a sensitive heart to discern people who need to be blessed.