I have “regulars” on my prayer list. Do any of these people show up on yours?
- A woman questioning the foundations of her faith.
- A teenager who walked away from faith altogether.
- A young adult with damaged ideas about life.
- A man struggling with sexual identity.
- Several men and women overwhelmed by depression.
- A young adult with an addiction.
- A Christian leader crippled by discouragement.
I pray for these people regularly, asking God to deliver, heal, reveal truth, uplift, set free, convict—whatever it seems they need. But recently, when I was praying for one of these individuals I believe God challenged me to a bigger-picture way of praying.
Every one of these people is under the enemy’s attack, I think He whispered. You need to intercede at the root of the problem—the source.
Right away, a familiar passage from 2 Corinthians 10 came to mind:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (3-5)
At the root of each of these people’s struggles is a strategy of the enemy’s: a stronghold, argument, or pretension that sets itself up against knowing God for who He really is. The enemy uses these lies and strategies to try to get people’s eyes off Jesus and the life, peace, and purpose that He offers. Although my list may only have a dozen or so names on it, the enemy uses these lies and strategies against tens of thousands of people.
So what if I were to pray for the individuals on my list, but also to pray concerning the enemy’s schemes? I’ve been trying that. My prayers go something like this:
I pray for the person who has walked away from faith, but then I remind Satan that no one can snatch God’s sheep from His hand (John 10:28-29) and I remind Jesus that He is a good shepherd who leaves the 99 to go after just one straying lamb (Matthew 18:12). I ask Him to do that for everyone who has strayed from the fold.
I pray for the man struggling with sexual identity, but then I remind Satan that God created male and female, and in the image of God He created them (Genesis 1:27). I ask God to restore His imago dei to everyone struggling with identity issues so that they can live freely in who He made them to be.
I pray for the Christian leader struggling with discouragement, then I let Satan know that I am not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). I know that he tries to defeat the saints by wearing them down (Daniel 7:25). But I remind him that God is greater. The joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10). He renews the strength of those who wait on Him so that they can mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:29-31). I ask God to encourage and fortify every Christian leader who is discouraged.
God is reminding me that this battle we’re in is not merely an individual one, though individuals are certainly involved. Our battle is on a cosmic level—Satan against Jesus Christ and everyone who bears His name. Could it be that as we pray for one struggling soul, our prayers can have more effect in the heavenly places than we know?