Being assailed with negative thoughts eventually leads to discouragement, and discouragement leads to inaction. In this second half of Victor Matthew’s warfare prayer, it is clear that the antidote to most of the obstacles and problems that we face is through a vigorous prayer life and that biblical prayer is itself an action. Like the Hulk, we must smash the strongholds of Satan that are formed against us and our churches. Let this prayer be prayed often, and let its truth seep into the marrow of your spirit:
Heavenly Father, by faith and in dependence upon You I put off the old person and stand into all the victory of the crucifixion where the Lord Jesus Christ provided cleansing from the sinful nature. I put on the new person and stand into all the victory of the resurrection and the provision He has made for me to live above sin.
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: