This week, as every week, I anticipated coming to my pastor’s study on Tuesday morning intent on crafting a draft of the upcoming Sunday sermon. Preaching my way through the Gospel of Matthew, the text for this Sunday is one of those healing narratives in which Jesus confronts and rebukes a demonized person. I was feeling pretty good, and was ready to get the day going. However, just as I was ready to go to the church building, I was suddenly overcome with nausea and an extreme mental fog. As I sat down to gather myself, irrational fears and thoughts began to pummel my brain. “If you preach on that story, they won’t be happy with you.” “How can you even think of preparing a sermon on faith when you are so unfaithful!?” “You don’t make a difference in this church; why even go to work?”
If this had been the first time I ever had such an encounter, I may have totally freaked out. But it was not the first time, and probably won’t be the last. I immediately texted my wife and said, “preaching on a demon-possession on Sunday – let’s cover ourselves in prayer.” We both knew we were in for a strange week. Demons are not just something for Christ’s time and place, but are a very real presence in this day and age.
My favorite theology professor in seminary, the late Victor Matthews, taught me as much about the demonic realm as anyone. Decades ago he wrote and published in tract form the “warfare prayer.” In those times when I realize I’m in a spiritual battle, the warfare prayer is my companion throughout the day. I have edited and updated it for my own purposes, and for the people I counsel. It is solid theology put into prayer form. I offer you the first half of it here, and the rest in a later blog. Use it often in order to remain aggressive in faith and prayer. I recommend praying it out loud with some flavor:
Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and praise before You. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as my protection. I surrender myself completely in every area of my life to You. I take a stand against all the work of Satan that would hinder me in my prayer life. I address myself only to the True and Living God and refuse any involvement of Satan in my prayer.
Satan, I command you, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave my presence with all of your demons. I bring the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ between us.
Heavenly Father, I worship You and give You praise. I recognize that You are worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise. I renew my allegiance to You and pray that the Holy Spirit would enable me in this time of prayer. I am thankful, Heavenly Father, that You have loved me from eternity past and that You sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to die as my substitute. I am thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ came as my representative and that through Him You have completely forgiven me; You have adopted me into Your family; You have assumed all responsibility for me; You have given me eternal life; You have given me the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ so that I am now justified. I am thankful that in Christ You have made me complete, and that You have offered Yourself to me to be my daily help and strength.
Heavenly Father, open my eyes that I might see how great You are and how complete Your provision is for this day. I am thankful that the victory the Lord Jesus Christ won for me on the cross and in His resurrection has been given to me and that I am seated with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. I take my place with Him and recognize by faith that all wicked spirits and Satan himself are under my feet. I declare that Satan and his demons are subject to me in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am thankful for the armor You have provided. I put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace and the helmet of salvation. I lift up the shield of faith against all the fiery arrows of the enemy; and I take in my hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. I choose to use Your Word against all the forces of evil in my life. I put on this armor and live and pray in complete dependence upon You, Holy Spirit.
I am grateful, Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ disarmed all power and authorities, triumphing over them by the cross. I claim all victory for my life today. I reject all the insinuations, accusations, and temptations of Satan. I affirm that the Word of God is true and I choose to live today in the light of God’s Word. Heavenly Father, I choose to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with You. Open my eyes and show me the areas of my life that do not please You. Work in me to cleanse me from all ground that would give Satan a foothold against me. I do in every way stand into all that it means to be Your adopted child and I welcome all the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life today. Amen.