It is clear from the Bible that we are in a war and that we are called to fight. For example, it says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). It also says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Click on the word strongholds for an explanation of this concept. This is "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 3:10). We, the church, are to make known God's manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers... God chooses to use us, His body, to do this revelation and ground-level warfare, while His angels do the higher-level warfare.

   Here are the three general levels to spiritual warfare:

1.) Ground-level spiritual warfare - This is the ministry of casting our demons or tearing down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

2.) Occult-level spiritual warfare - There is a different kind of demonic power at work in the occult (i.e. Acts 16:16-24).

3.) Strategic-level spiritual warfare - This is the kind of warfare the angel Michael fought as mentioned in Daniel 10:12-13 or Revelation 12:7-9.

   For each level of warfare there is going to be differences in the approach. There has been an explosion in the amount of materials produced related to spiritual warfare and warfare prayer but it is not a new concept. The "increase in knowledge" (Daniel 12:4) and effectiveness in ministry, as well as the explosion of the occult and wickedness (Matt. 24:12), has brought this about. The battle has been heating up, for the devil "knows that his time is short" (Rev. 12:12).

   It has been said that the most powerful kind of praying is praise. Praise must precede and accompany warfare. Paul Billheimer said that praise is the best way to develop faith because it focuses on the character of God, and it is faith which ultimately overcomes the enemy. So warfare prayer is not necessarily negative praying - that is praying against demons like territorial spirits. It is a supremely positive kind of praying in the form of affirmations of:

  1. The sovereign power of God

  2. The unending nature of His love

  3. The victory of Christ over all of God's enemies

  S.D. Gordon says, "Prayer is striking the winning blow at the concealed enemy. Service is gathering up the results of that blow among the [people] we see and touch." Every time the church prays, it provides the legal and moral justification for God to release His power. God uses the church, His body to take back what the enemy has been squatting on since He won the battle at Calvary. although this concept leads into a false theology called dominion theology, God does desire for us to further the kingdom of God through prayer.

   An Old Testament example of warfare prayer is Daniel's prayer in chapter 10. When the angel came wit hthe answer to Daniel's prayer he said, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom withstood me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me..." (vv.12,13). God started Daniel's answer from the moment he prayed, but it was delayed because of warfare in the spiritual realm by a territorial spirit (the "prince of the Persian kingdom"); so Daniel had to pray and fast twenty-one days.

Jesus said, From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it," or as the King James translates it, "the violent take it by force." 

   I think it's interesting that two full chapters in the book of Revelation are the literal words of Jesus. My Bible reminds me because Jesus' words are printed in red ink. These two chapters are written to the seven churches, also referred to as the seven lampstands. There are also seven stars in the hand of Jesus (identified by Jesus as angels), one for each church. Each church receives a different letter but they also have some similarities, namely each letter begins with some descriptive phrases about the author (Jesus Christ), each letter affirms that its contents are "what the Spirit says to the churches," and only one command-type verb is used in each of the seven letters: "overcome."

Some remarkable promises are attached to overcoming in each of the letters. If we overcome, as Jesus desires us to, we will:

  1. Eat from the tree of life

  2. Not be hurt by the second death

  3. Eat of the hidden manna

  4. Have power over the nations

  5. Be clothed in white garments

  6. Be a pillar in the temple in the New Jerusalem

  7. Sit with Jesus on His throne

There is a lot of symbolism to this and I will add a sermon on this to my website shortly.

   So what does he mean by "overcome?" Jesus used this term (Nikao) in only two other places in the New Testament. It is where we get the name Nicholas and the word Nike from, and it means "to conquer." It is also distinctly a warfare term. When Jesus calls us to overcome, He calls us to warfare. The only two other occasions this word is used is in John 16:33 where Jesus affirms, "I have overcome [nikao] the world." This is reassuring because it reminds us that Jesus already won the war, we just need to proclaim the victory and take back the land. The other time is in Luke when Jesus talks about the strongman. This is a spiritual warfare passage which begins with ground-level spiritual warfare as Jesus casts a demon out of a mute (Luke 11:14). Jesus then goes on to talk about Satan's kingdom (Luke 11:18) and a palace (Luke 11:21) and Beelzebub, who is a high prince of demons under Satan. Jesus' explanation of overcoming the strongman is also found in Matthew and Mark but the word for "bind" is used interchangeably (see Matt. 12:29 and Mark 3:27). It is the same word used in Matthew 16:19 where Jesus said, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven."

   I believe Jesus is calling us to forcefully advance His kingdom and those of us who do are the overcomers He is referring to. The enemy is doing everything he can to hinder and stop this, and it's amazing all he has tried to do to stop me. Before you decide to engage in any warfare-type activities or prayers, please read the following principles that will help prepare you:

  1. Be sure you are in proper relationship to God! - I can't emphasize this enough! I have heard story after story of those who have tried, much like the "Sons of Sceva," (Acts 19:13-16) to cast out demons without being in right relationship with God. Many missionaries have even died immediately as a result of arrogance, presumption and underestimating the enemy when taking him on. People really do perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6) and it is essential that we be trained and under our Father's protection before marching out in battle. Humility precedes holiness which precedes power. Also, make sure you put on the full armor of God.

  2. Confess all known sins - Francis Frangipane warns: "If you attempt to bind a principality or power while you harbor sin in your heart, you will surely be defeated." Demons sometimes tell exorcists what these sins are and this usually leads to embarrassment and ineffectiveness. Purity is essential.

  3. Seek healing for persistent sin patterns/strongholds - If you have a sin of struggle that continues to surface, this is a spiritual illness for which you must seek treatment just as you would seek a doctor for an infection. NOTE: You generally need outside help for this kind of inner healing. Get the help before you attempt any ministry, but especially before you attempt any spiritual warfare.

  4. Establish strong accountability/pastoral oversight - This is essential as a Christian, especially involved in ministry. The enemy will do whatever he can to take you down and something as small as an accusation can derail you. Make sure the enemy doesn't have any footholds or anything he can grasp onto. There are a lot of principles to this and be sure you have all of your bases covered.

  5. Never attempt to go into battle alone - Lone rangers get taken out. Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs and he said he is present wherever two or three are gathered in His name. A strand of three is not easily broken but one surely is.

  6. The higher God calls you in leadership, the higher your standards for holiness - Always take your convictions one step further than you sense you need to. We are called to a higher standard.

  7. Be led by God. Don't take this too far. If God gives you a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom, use it to pray specifically but don't speak to the spirit or spirits unless the Lord clearly directs you to. Rather, focus on asking God to battle this spirit. Lastly, remember that we are called to ground-level warfare and the Lord and His angels battle in the higher levels.

   We are standing at the edge of what many believe will be the greatest prayer movement ever... Get out of the trenches, on your knees, and use the powerful weapon you have been given. Pray with passion and power, like never before, because there are lives at stake. We have nothing to do but to save souls...

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).