Praying Down Evil: The Christian’s Battle Cry
By Donavon L Riley
In the relentless battle-space of spiritual warfare, where the fires of sin and temptation constantly threaten to burn down our faith and lives, Christians are called by God to stand as warriors of faith. We take to heart the words of Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Like King David, who faced the giant Goliath with nothing but a sling and his unwavering trust in God (1 Samuel 17), we stand against the giants of our time, the adversary’s of the Lord, armed with an unshakable faith that comes from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
With unwavering resolve, we lift our voices in prayer, joining our voices with the psalmist who cried out, “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer” (Psalm 61:1). Our prayers are not feeble murmurs but resounding declarations of our reliance on God the Father, Almighty. We draw inspiration from the prophet Elijah, who, in the face of overwhelming odds, prayed fervently for God’s intervention and witnessed fire descending from the heavens (1 Kings 18:36-38). In our prayers, we, too, invoke the power of God’s divine intervention, knowing that our petitions are heard in the heavenly courts.
As we engage in this fierce spiritual warfare, we are encouraged by God’s Word to invoke the legacy of the brethren who came before us. For example, the apostle Paul’s words encourage us to remember that, “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Likewise, we remember the faith of Abraham, who trusted God’s promise of a son even in his old age (Genesis 15:5). Further, we draw strength from the courage of Esther, who risked her life to save her people (Esther 4:16). Just as the Holy Spirit strengthened them in unwavering faith to face whatever obstacle was put in front of them, he uses their experiences to fuel our determination to stand firm in the face of adversity, knowing that we are part of a legacy that spans generations.
In this battle-space of spiritual warfare, we are not alone. We are part of an unbroken chain of believers – a “great cloud of witnesses,” as the Bible calls it – who have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). With the sword of God’s Word in one hand and the shield of faith in the other, we press forward, determined to overcome the assaults of sin and temptation that threaten to defeat us. We are called into service to God as warriors of faith, marching in the footsteps of those who have gone before us, confident that the God who delivered David from Goliath, answered Elijah’s prayers, and upheld the faith of Abraham and Esther is the same God who stands with us in our battles today.
The Battle Begins With Ourselves
As Christian soldiers, our first battleground is ourselves, where the enemy of sinful self-interest and self-centeredness daily afflicts us, driving us to care about only ourselves and our personal wants. And so, in the quiet moments of personal reflection, we are encouraged to confront our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, for as the Apostle Paul admonished, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). It is in these introspective moments that the Psalms also offer us solace and guidance, as we cry out with the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). This heartfelt plea becomes our own, a fervent prayer etched into the very fiber of our being.
Our prayers become the fiery forge where the Holy Spirit purifies and refines our souls, much like the refining process described in Zechariah 13:9: “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.” God exposes us to the searing heat of self-examination and repentance, so that our impurities may be consumed, and he may draw us from the fire as tempered blades, honed by the Word of God and ready for the battle that lies ahead. The Psalms, therefore, serve as our songs of preparation and sustenance, turning our cries of weakness into declarations of strength, as we find refuge in Psalm 18:32: “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”
With hearts made clean by God’s Word, and our spirits renewed by the Holy Spirit, we become formidable warriors, not through our own might but through the power of prayer and the Word of God. In these moments of self-confrontation and renewal, we are not broken but forged anew, emerging from the fiery crucible as instruments of God’s grace and righteousness, ready to stand firm against the forces of evil that threaten to envelop God’s people and his work for them.
Confronting the Forces of This Evil World
In the wider world, we confront the malevolent forces that seek to corrupt, divide, and destroy God’s good and gracious will, as vividly portrayed in Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.”
The apostle Paul’s words serve as a rallying cry, echoing through the ages, reminding us that our battle is not against mere mortals but against the very powers that orchestrate the chaos and division enveloping our world. As we take up the armor of faith and prayer, our petitions become the thunderous drumbeat of resistance, a throaty war-song that reverberates through the spiritual realms.
Consider the example of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16-23). His faith was made steadfast by God’s protection, and thus shook the foundations of the world as the lions, meant to devour him, became powerless adversaries. In the same way, in our prayers, God leads us to emulate Daniel’s unwavering resolve, trusting in the One who silences the roaring lions of this world.
Likewise, the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) reminds us that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable giants, God uses our prayers, like David’s sling, as potent weapons. Thus, armed with faith and conviction, we are sent out by the Lord of Armies to confront the giants of injustice, oppression, and division that threaten to silence God’s Word and drive away people from knowing his salvation and peace.
So our prayers are not the mutterings of the feeble; they are the battle cries of the valiant. As instruments of God’s justice in this relentless struggle, we are given to wield the Word of God as a double-edged sword, proclaiming its truths with unwavering resolve. And in the face of adversity, God strengthens us to stand firm, declaring that our God is mighty to save, and through Him, we shall overcome the forces of this evil, dying world.
Repelling The Devil’s Assault
In the voluminous history of spiritual warfare, the devil stands as the ancient adversary, prowling like a ravenous lion, seeking souls to ensnare and devour, as Peter warns us (1 Peter 5:8). His assaults are unrelenting, a ceaseless barrage of temptations and deceptions meant to drag us into the abyss of fear, unbelief, and despair.
But in this conflict, our prayers run out like trumpet blasts, as a call to arms, reverberating with the echoes of David’s defiance in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Armed buy God with the impenetrable armor of faith, we invoke the protective mantle of Christ, who declared, “I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).
With an unyielding determination reminiscent of Joshua’s unwavering resolve to conquer the Promised Land, we stand as warriors in Christ. We do not retreat in the face of the evil one’s attacks; instead, we advance, pushing back the forces of evil the one with each fervent plea. Just as Joshua, by God’s direction, commanded the sun to stand still in battle (Joshua 10:12-13), we are given the same divine authority to command the forces of the evil one to yield to the radiant truth of God’s Word. Our prayers are the fortress walls against which the enemy’s assaults shatter like waves upon the rock.
And so, in our unyielding battle against sin, the world, and the evil one, God turns our prayers into thunderclaps of hope, a clarion call of faith, and an unbreakable bond of unity among believers. Therefore, as we are called by our Redeemer-Savior, Jesus Christ, to engage in this spiritual warfare, we do not cower in fear but are raised by God as champions of the faith, knowing that through Christ, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Our prayers are not whispers in the dark; they are the battle cries that pierce the heavens and the earth, declaring that the victory is already won in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
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