Growing up knowing nothing about spiritual warfare, demonic attacks or our authority in Jesus to rebuke and bind up demons, meant that I had to passively hope that God would defend us when trials came. It was assumed that any intervention of God to alleviate suffering or trials was purely because He had chosen to do so with no influence on our part.
The idea that we could influence God, was considered prideful, even heretical. When my dad was falsely accused by an unscrupulous man who wanted to undermine his missionary work in Malawi, that would have been the perfect time for God to intervene and defend him, and disprove the evil lies that were being said. But though we prayed, nothing happened, and it appeared as if evil had won. Our family was deported and torn away from our beloved home and sent back to Texas after 12 years of opening churches and serving God in Africa.
We were taught the miracles of the Bible, but we weren’t taught to personally expect them, even though we were always exhorted to pray and taught that His promises were unchangeable. But if by chance a prayer request was actually granted, we were to thank God while never being so crass as to think our own faith had anything to do with it. It made God feel very distant and answers to prayer more like a lucky draw.
There were a lot of reasons attributed to why God seemed to ignore us, but when God did answer, it was because He simply wanted to. If there was suffering in a family or friend’s life, we were all called to pray, but it was all up to God anyway. The idea that sinful humans could actually move God’s hand was arrogance. It was kind of schizophrenic to be told to have faith and then be criticized for expecting too much.
Learning about our authority in Jesus to rebuke demons – manifesting shouting, angry demons as well as subtle and cleverly disguised demons – has transformed my prayer life, my relationship with God and the people who I have been so honored to help. Of course God has the right to deny any prayer request, but He also has the right to demand that we obey His commands to take up our weapons of warfare and fight! He will not do the fighting that is specifically assigned to us, His servants. Yes, suffering and trials come to us all, but the only way we can “count it all joy,” as James 1 tells us, is with the knowledge that we are fully equipped to do battle against the devil and his attacks. We can battle his lies that try to undermine our faith, we can battle the spirits of infirmity that attack the bodies of our loved ones, we can aggressively confront the demonic powers that are trying to rob us of our financial stability, and we can see miraculous turnarounds because we did what He commanded us in Ephesians 6.
My present-day image of God is that He is eager to bless, ready to supply all the power we need, in the lives of whoever lives in obedience to Him and has died to their flesh. But even a new believer who isn’t yet free from old sins, will find that God is ready to hear his prayers to be drawn into closer into communion with Him, to be completely transformed and born of His Spirit. God is ready to say yes, much more than we realize, but we are called to do battle and not be passive. What demonic forces have attacked your emotions and tried to make you feel hopeless and fearful? What spirits are at work to turn the hearts of others against you? What lies have you fallen for that God wants you to rid your mind of? What bold actions of faith is God challenging you to take? There is a joy in this battle, because we’ve been given the gracious gift of authority that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:19-20 MEV)