Two similar questions that are asked of me from time to time, whether it’s safe to pray out loud since the devil can hear what we say, and if it’s any use to rebuke the devil silently since he can’t read our minds.
First of all let’s get straight whose power we are using when we pray in faith. God is greater than the devil and all his minions by far, and whatever prayer is offered in true faith is pleasing to God, heard by God, and is acted upon as He commands His angels. Even before an answer comes, God’s blessing rests on us just because we reached out to Him in love and trust. Jesus never taught His disciples to be sneaky about praying because the devil might just listen in and thwart God’s attempt to answer them. That kind of logic reduces spiritual warfare to a child’s game, and reduces God to a weak and equal force to the devil. Jesus prayed openly and teaches us all to pray both openly and privately, alone and in groups, out loud and in our minds. God can hear all kinds of prayers, and who cares what the devil hears? If we’re in faith, the devil can do nothing to stop God from responding.
As for whether the devil can read minds, the Bible makes it clear that only God is omniscient (all knowing) and the devil is just a created being who got carried away with his own importance and pride. He is nothing like God, but one thing he can sense in human hearts, is doubt, fear, sinful desire and coldness towards God. These are the things that the devil and his demons feed on and utilize to inflict more pain and suffering. A person doesn’t have to be a Satanist to invite the devil into his or her life – just the presence of any evil attitude or mindset is all the invitation the devil needs to steal rob and destroy.
Conversely, the presence of a real living faith is unbearable for the devil. When James 4:7 says to resist the devil and he will flee from you, it doesn’t specify that it has to be done out loud. It’s your spiritual state of resistance that makes him run. There’s no magic word or spell to cast him out – just faith. Obviously Jesus spoke directly to unclean spirits and told them to get out and taught his disciples to do so as well. Part of resisting often requires that you confront those demons head on and command them to get out like Jesus did. But it’s not just the words that are spoken, if the source of that prayer is true faith, that’s what drives them out. It’s like shining a light on a roach-infested corner of a filthy kitchen – a close metaphor for how demons want to set up house in our own lives.
Just think, God told Moses it was impossible for anyone to see Him and live, but allowed Moses to see His back as He passed by on Mt. Sinai. For days Moses’ face glowed with the supernatural glory of God just from that short glimpse of God’s back. When the light of God shone on Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on Mt. Hermon, the disciples fell on their faces in terror and awe. When the light of Jesus shone on Saul on his way to Damascus to imprison more Christians, he fell to the ground in terror and was blinded. 1Timothy 6:16 says that God lives in unapproachable light, that no one has seen or can see Him. The light of God is terrifying for those with sin, but beautifully amazing for those who are pure.
But when it comes to simple human beings like us who believe in Jesus, Ephesians 5:8 says, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” That means that when we belong to Christ, a small bit of that unapproachable light begins to shine in us — as undeserving as we are —as long as we walk in obedience as children of Light. Satan has to fall in terror when we use our faith, whether we speak out loud, silently, in groups, or alone. We can smile in the middle of a problem and be rebuking inwardly with all the revolt we can muster, and the devil can feel the pain of our faith without needing to hear a single word.
I have seen manifesting demons shriek in pain just when a congregation burns them in their minds. They hate your faith, so don’t be afraid to use it any way you need to at any given time. It all comes down to your relationship to God. Do you really know Him as your Father, or are you still trying to use faith as a good luck charm to get what you want? Rebuking the devil is not an exorcism or séance with special incantations. It’s a way of life.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth — proving what is pleasing to the Lord. And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things are exposed when they are revealed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:6-13 MEV)