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Prayer and Warfare (1)
Dr. Allen Barber
June 3, 2010

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 

Ephesians 6:10-18NKJV

As we move closer to the end of this age dominated by both Gentile and Jewish puppets of Satan who want to control the world and its inhabitants, the need to intercede for the Body of Christ in spiritual warfare praying, will become even more mandatory.

Perhaps the best work I have read on this subject of spiritual warfare praying is a chapter by Watchman Nee in his book, The Spiritual Man. No book outside the Bible has influenced my spiritual life more than the Spiritual Man. If you truly want to understand the workings of  the spirit, soul and body and how the flesh and spirit war against each other for ascendancy, then this book is essential for your spiritual development. I have often said that Watchman Nee was a modern day Apostle Paul for he was devoted completely to the Lord and living by the Spirit. His copious writings are the result of his many spiritual experiences and battles with the flesh and not just some theories about the spiritual realm. Manley Beasley, a Spirit-filled Baptist evangelist (there are some believe it or not) said that he carried a copy of the Spiritual Man in his brief case and read several chapters before preaching at a conference or Church revival. It is sad that few denominational and evangelical Christians know of Watchman Nee or ever read his writings. I have perhaps 40 or 50 of his books in my library and they are true spiritual food.  While I don't agree with all of his positions on eschatology (he was a partial Pretribber and highly influenced by John Darby who formalized pretribulationism in 1830), his writings on spiritual issues are without equal in my opinion. Though I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus for 40 years as well as a Minister of the Word and a former pastor, I am not worthy to untie the shoe laces of Watchman Nee. He gave his life for the work of the Lord and died a solitary death in one of Mao Te Sung's prison camps. When I read his biography, I wept and realized how very weak is my spiritual life compared to brother Nee. When the Kingdom of our Lord comes and all the saints are gathered into it, after the Lord Jesus and a few others, the person I want to see is brother Nee. 

The chapter on prayer and warfare begins with the statement that all prayer should be spiritual, which probably few Christians know the difference between carnal (flesh) and spiritual prayers. Most prayers are of two kinds - intellectual (originating in the mind) and emotional (originating with feelings). Of course unless believers have learned to train their spirits in the spiritual laws of God and have overcome the flesh, they have no knowledge of whether their prayers are of the flesh or the Spirit. Flesh prayers accomplish nothing in the kingdom of God. Watchman Nee says, "Fleshy prayers are far too numerous and nowadays (he wrote the Spiritual Man in 1927 from Shanghai, China, but it is like reading a modern commentary) Christians seem to treat prayer as a means to accomplish their aims and ideas. If they possessed just a little deeper understanding, they would recognize that prayer is but man uttering to God what is God's will."

I once taught spiritual praying/spiritual warfare to a home Bible study (mostly Southern Baptist) and they had no clue to what I meant, even after explaining it in great detail with personal experiences, they never grasped the concept. Why? Denominations are not taught anything about the spiritual realm and even the Charismatics attempt to promote the baptism falls short of the real spiritual realm. The spiritual realm has nothing to do with either intellectual or emotional worship. It is all about living by faith based upon the Word of God and in the influence and power (control) of the Holy Spirit. Everything about a true believer's relationship to God including prayer and preaching is of the Spirit and has nothing to do with the flesh. Then again, the majority of believers do not know what their flesh is so how can they overcome it and walk by the Spirit if they do not recognize the flesh in themselves. I once taught or tried to teach a series to a church I pastored on how to identity the flesh in the saved and the Holy Spirit used it to bring strong conviction to the Church including this preacher; however, several who were not comfortable with the message, rebelled and attacked the message and the messenger.  The result was not pretty. The Church ended up fighting against the truth and God eventually removed its candlestick and it no longer exist. Jesus said in his messages to the seven churches in Revelation that unless they repented, He would remove their candlestick (spiritual influence or lack of it).

The flesh in the saints must be crucified before the saints can pray spiritual prayers. Again, Watchman Nee says the flesh is not permitted even in prayer. All spiritual prayer emanates from the Holy Spirit via the Word of God for how can we know the will of God if we do not know His Word. If you want to know God's will in a matter, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word of God to your spirit, then pray that will in the Spirit, which is your re-born spirit in union with the Holy Spirit uttering what He has shown you about the will of God. No mixture of man's flesh can enter into spiritual prayers. If believers attempt to pray in the spirit (little "s" - their spirit) by exercising the flesh (high thoughts or strong feelings), then how great is the damage to their spirit and their prayers. God will never follow what man has initiated. "God will do no work which originates with man, no matter how much man may pray. He condemns such praying as fleshly."

One evidence that believers have entered the spiritual realm (not automatic at salvation) is they immediately realize how inadequate they are in themselves to do anything for God much less Him performing His will through them. The life of the Spirit is one of an emptying process, that is, emptying one's self of all fleshy pursuits in the work of the kingdom and in daily living. Nothing in us, not one thing, can rescue a single soul, including ourselves, from the jaws of Satan. We must humble ourselves daily to the influence and control of the Holy Spirit and especially in warfare praying or Satan will intensify the attack against our prayers and render them useless. May I also say that the Holy Spirit's control of our lives does not mean He thinks and acts for us for that is passivity and gives the enemy ground to work in our lives. Many saints have been invaded by demons in the soul area (mind, will and emotions) via passivity - blindly waiting on God to act for them. The Holy Spirit will never act for us rather He guides us to walk in the truth of God's Word. Remember, the Holy Spirit guides and the devil drives. Satan via his demons wants to control our lives and deceive us into thinking what we are doing is by our will when in fact he has captured the will and ensnared us to obey him rather than God.

Watchmen Nee is right on when he says, "True prayer uncovers the emptiness in the petitioner but the fullness in the petitioned. Unless the flesh has been reduced to a vacuum by the cross, what use is prayer and what can it possibly signify. Spiritual prayer does not proceed from the flesh nor the thought, desire or decision of the believer; rather does it follow purely from that which is offered according to the will of God. It is prayed in the spirit (little "s" - one own spirit), that is to say, spiritual prayer is made after one has discerned the will of God in his intuition (the intuition is one of the faculties of the re-born spirit)." All of God's thoughts and His Word is given to the believers spirit not his soul. At the new birth, believers received a brand new spirit from God, that is, God by the Holy Spirit woke up the dead spirit of man lying in darkness and depravity, and brought it back to life where it can now communicate with God via the Eternal Spirit. We did not receive a new mind or a new soul when we were saved. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit after initial salvation is to submerge our soul and bodily functions in the re-born spirit. His presence in our spirits makes that possible, but even then it is not automatic. We must yield our total being to the control of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 6) in order to walk and live in the spiritual realm (Note: the spiritual realm is not the same as the supernatural realm in which both God and Satan operate; Satan has no part in the spiritual realm for he is a fallen creature void of the Spirit of God).

Spiritual prayer that wars against the kingdom of darkness begins with the believers spirit in union with God and in harmony with His will via His Word. In the passage of Scripture above, we are commanded (not an option) to pray in the Spirit (large "S", which means the Holy Spirit) at all times for the saints who are engaged in warfare against the enemy and are themselves under His constant attack.  You want to know another way that you have entered the spiritual realm in your life and prayers?  The attacks of Satan will increase, that is, he will attack your peace, your environment, your body and as well as your spirit with his blocking tactics and the only way you can defeat him is by warfare praying in the Spirit. Our posture toward Satan should never be defensive, but offensive, that is, we should take the fight to him by standing on the Word of God and using it against him calling him what he is a murderer and a liar.  It is especially important in warfare praying to apply the blood of Jesus against Satan. Remind him of the shed blood whereby forgiveness of all sin was atoned for, actually blotted out, and therefore, there is now no condemnation for the saint who walks in the Spirit (carnal saints have much condemnation in their spirits and consciences because they allow sin in their lives). One of Satan's chief tactics is to get the saint to sin and thereby wounding the conscience.  A saint with a guilty conscience cannot engage in spiritual warfare praying due to a heavy or oppressive spirit. The spirit of the believer must be light and buoyant, otherwise Satan can block or hem it in by accusation.

We must put on the whole armor of God (spiritual armor) and stand against all the wiles of the devil before we can enter into spiritual warfare praying for the saints and ourselves.

There will be many more articles on this subject in future days, God willing.