Prayer and Spiritual Combat
Prayer is an essential part of experiencing victory in spiritual combat with the kingdom of darkness and Satan.
There is a spiritual war that is taking place between God and His elect angels and Satan and his fallen angels.
This spiritual war is invisible and, therefore, requires divine power for every believer to be equipped to fight.
Prayer is one of the weapons that God the Father provided for the church age believer in eternity past to fight this invisible warfare (Eph6:18).
The church age believer is in the midst of spiritual warfare with the kingdom of darkness (Eph 6:12-16; Phi 1:27-30) and the Scriptures describe the believer as a “soldier” (1 Co 9:7; Phi 2:25; 2 Ti 3-4).
The battleground for this spiritual warfare is the believer’s soul (Rom 7:23; Gal 5:17; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
The spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary was a great strategic victory over the human race’s three great enemies (John 12:31; 16:8-11; Col 2:15; Heb 2:14).
The church age believer has three great enemies according to the Scriptures: (1) Satan, our chief adversary, the devil: (1 Peter 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:12; John 16:11; Colossians 2:15; but note 1 John 2:13-14). (2) The world, a system and arrangement of the affairs of the human and government under the control of the evil one and opposed to God and His purposes for the human race (John 16:33; 1 John 5:4; Ephesians 2:2). (3) Indwelling Adamic sin nature or the flesh and all its corrupting power and life-dominating patterns: (Rom. 7:15; 8:4-8, 13; Gal. 5:16-26).
Our Lord’s strategic victory paved the way for other tactical victories by church age believers.
Strategic action is designed to strike an enemy at the source of his military, economic, or political power and is intended to render the enemy incapable of making war.
The impeccable incarnate Son of God performed a strategic action at the cross when He died a substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths for all mankind.
This strategic action destroyed the works of the devil and rendered inoperable the great power he uses against humanity, which is the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15).
It also destroyed Satan’s argument against God at his appeal trial, which stated that God was unfair and did not love His creatures because God sentenced him and his angels to the Lake of Fire (Mat 25:41).
Tactical action involves actions of less magnitude or at a shorter distance from a base of operations than those of strategy and is related to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose.
Every believer is a strategic winner “positionally” through his union with Christ, which means that God views the believer as crucified, died, buried, raised, and seated with Christ and that He has given them the victory already over Satan.
However, few become tactical winners by exploiting their union with Christ and experiencing victory over Satan and the kingdom of darkness.
The believer achieves tactical victories by appropriating, through faith, the strategic victory that God won through Christ’s death, resurrection, and session.
The kingdom of darkness employs fear and intimidation tactics to get the believer to go AWOL (absent without official leave) from the plan of God (Phi 1:28; 1 Pe 5:1-9; Heb. 2:14-15).
Fear is a contradiction to the believer’s spiritual life, which should be a lifestyle of power, love, and discipline (2 Ti 1:7).
There are many passages in the New Testament, which address the believer’s attitude and conduct to this present cosmic system of Satan (Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 6:14; Ephesians 4:17-5:2; Philippians 1:27-30; 2:14-17; James 1:27).
The apostle Paul employs a military analogy in Ephesians 6:10-19 in order to describe the believer’s defense and offense when engaging this invisible enemy.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE. 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (NASB95)
“Prayer” is the genitive form of the noun proseuche, which is used of reverential prayer in the presence of the Father and speaks of prayer in the general sense of speaking face to face or in the presence of the Father to worship and adore Him.
“Petition” is the noun deesis, which, in context, refers to making a petition or prayer for a specific need, whether spiritual or material, which is in accordance with the will of the Father.
“All” is the adjective pas, which is used in a “distributive” sense to mean, “every kind” in a particular class, thus, Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to offer up prayers to the Father by means of “every kind of” reverential specific detailed prayer request in the presence of the Father.
“Pray” is the verb proseuchomai, which is a compound verb that is composed of the preposition pros, which means, “face to face with,” and the verb euchomai, which means, “to request.”
Thus, the verb literally means, “to make a request face to face with deity.”
“At all times” is indicating the point of time overlapping other points of time that the Ephesian believers were to pray.
The noun kairos is used often in a temporal sense in the Greek New Testament for a “distinct point in time” and, in Ephesians 6:18, it means, “opportunity.”
It is modified by the attributive adjective pas, which is used again in a “distributive” sense, meaning, “each and every.”
Thus, the Ephesian believers were to make it their habit to pray “at each and every opportunity.”
So, Paul was saying in Ephesians 6:18, with this prepositional phrase, that by means of every kind of specific reverential prayer request, all of you make it your habit to pray “at each and every opportunity.”
The second person plural form of the verb proseuchomai, “all of you make it a habit to pray,” clearly indicates that Paul was addressing this command to the Ephesian believers as a corporate unit.
The local assembly experiences spiritual victory as a corporate unit in spiritual combat by praying as a corporate unit for each other.
If the local assembly has divisions and is not praying for each other, it will suffer defeat at the hands of Satan and the kingdom of darkness in spiritual combat and will lose its witness in the world.
The local assembly experiences victory over the kingdom of darkness in spiritual combat by being obedient as a corporate unit to the Father’s will, as it is revealed by the Spirit through the communication of the Word.
This obedience reproduces the love of God and expresses itself through prayer for one’s fellow believer.
“In the Spirit” denotes the sphere in which the believer was to pray, namely, “in the sphere” of fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
“With this in view” indicates the “goal” or “purpose” of the Ephesian believers to pray.
The second command issued in Ephesians 6:18 is “be on the alert,” which is the verb, agrupneo, and means, “to keep alert.”
Thus, the phrase denotes the concept of watchfulness in prayer for oneself and for fellow Christian soldiers.
“With all perseverance and petition” is used to denote the “manner” in which the Ephesian believers were to stay alert in prayer for all believers.
“For all the saints” indicates that Ephesian believers were to make it a habit to stay alert in prayer with every kind of persistent specific prayer request “with regards to” all believers, since all believers are fellow soldiers who fight for the same Sovereign, the Lord Jesus, and have the same common enemy, Satan.
“Saints” is the noun hagios, which is a technical term describing all believers without exception or distinction, who at the moment of justification are placed in union with Christ and made members of His body and royal family through the baptism of the Spirit in order to love and serve God and all members of His royal family.
Therefore, the message communicated in Ephesians 6:18 is that we are obligated to pray for all believers and, if operating in the love of God, we will want to pray for all believers.
The Scriptures commanded the Ephesian believers to make it a habit to stay alert in prayer with every kind of persistent specific prayer request with regards to all believers.