Image by  _Pek_ via Flickr

The (Spiritual) War on Terror

Jesus’ ministry was a ministry not of resignation but of revolt. He was about revolting against the cruel tyranny of a world ruler (Satan) that was oppressing God’s people. He was about seeking to give back to people, and to win back for his Father, what the enemy had stolen and destroyed. He was about restoring humanity to its rightful place of dominion over the earth, and thus about empowering humans to rise up against the cosmic thief who had stolen this from them.

Jesus’ very being, and certainly his deeds and his teaching, were about training us to revolt against the enemy in order to make our circumstances a place where we can discern the hand of God. From this perspective, we must never pray to accept “as from the father’s loving hand” any evil event.

We ought rather to pray to change things. Many think that the purpose of prayer is not to change God or to change things but only to change us. And while it sounds pious, it’s altogether unscriptural.

The primary purpose of prayer, as illustrated throughout Scripture, is precisely to change the way things are. Crucial matters, including much of God’s own activity, are contingent upon our prayer.

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (James 5:15-16). Whether we pray, how faith-filled our prayer is, how persistent it is and even how many people agree together in prayer are all factors that have a real effect in getting God to move and thus in changing the world. Jesus attached real urgency to prayer (see Lk 11:5-13; 18:1-8) and believers are therefore to strive to be involved in it on a nonstop basis (1 Thess 5:17).

According to Scripture, prayer can save a nation (Ex 32;10-14), and the lack of prayer can destroy it (Ezek 22:30). Faith-filled prayer moves God to bless, and the lack of prayer hinders it (2 Chron 30:18-20; Lk 18:1-8). Faith-filled prayer empowers one to free other people from demons, while the lack of faith-filled prayer leaves these very people enslaved.

In the midst of the spiritual war, things genuinely hang upon what free, morally responsible beings do or do not do. To expand God’s kingdom is to revolt against the kingdom of evil and the main thing that we do, as Jesus both teaches and demonstrates, is to exercise prayer and faith. When disciples do this, no demonic obstacle to the kingdom, however formidable, can stand in their way (Mt 21:21-22).

—Adapted from God at War, 201-205

Image by _Pek_ via Flickr.

Related Reading

Does The Open View Limit God?

Suppose you and I both agree that God is omniscient and thus knows all of reality, but we disagree over, say, the number of trees on a certain plot of land. I say there are 1,300 and you say there are 2,300. You wouldn’t say that I am limiting God because he knows fewer trees…

To What Extent is the Future Open to Real Possibilities?

We frequently get questions about the extent to which the future is composed of actual possibilities rather than settled or determined. Here’s what Greg has to say in response to these questions: 1. We can be confident the future is settled, to the extent that the Bible depicts the future as settled. This, of course,…

Why Does God Need Prayer?

Greg Loves Questions. In his best selling book Letters from a Skeptic, he responds to questions from his father, who was then an atheist. Tomorrow Greg will be hosting a AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit.  We hope you can join us! Here is an adaptation of one of Greg’s responses to a question from…

New Testament Support for the Warfare Worldview

Warfare in Jesus’ Ministry The theme of God striving to establish his sovereign will (his Kingdom) on earth over and against forces that oppose him is prevalent in the New Testament. In keeping with the apocalyptic climate of the time, there are many references to angels at war with God, demons that torment people, and…

Why Does God’s Activity Seem So Arbitrary?

Why? It’s the question that never goes away. Why is one infant born sickly and deformed when at the same time another is born perfectly healthy? Why does tragedy repeatedly strike one family while another seems to enjoy uninterrupted peace? On and on we could go with examples. It all seems so arbitrary and unfair.…

How do you respond to John 13:18–19; 17:12?

“I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he.’” Jesus prays…