When Paul was appointed by God as a missionary to the Gentiles he was told that he was being sent to ‘open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 26:18).
The conversion of all unbelievers involves this same rescue from being under the power of Satan. It is not surprising therefore that there will be an inescapable element of spiritual warfare. The good news is that the price for their release has already been paid by Jesus on the cross. Satan is defeated, so now has limited power for a limited time.
Spiritual warfare requires spiritual weapons, and key amongst these is prayer. Our prayer aim is that God will be seen for who he is, that Satan’s work will be thwarted, and that people will be set free to ‘declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (1 Peter 2:9). God has provided us with armour for the battle (Ephesians 6:10-20):
Preparation: Recognise that we do not need to be strong in ourselves but ‘in his mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10).
Protection: In John 17 Jesus prays for his disciples, ‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one’ (v.15). Our protection comes from being united with Christ and living as those who walk in the light. ‘Those who love their fellow-believers live in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble’ (1 John 2:10).
Declaration: ‘The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:17). The one piece of armour used for attack rather than defence is the word of God. All of us can engage in warfare by the positive proclamation of Scripture in our times of prayer for example, “Jesus wants X to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for X (1 Timothy 2:4-5). I agree in prayer with God’s will for X to be saved. ” Ask God to highlight particular verses to you for you to declare.
Fasting: You may wish to consider fasting on behalf of those for whom you are praying. ‘Fasting is choosing to remove the distraction and time commitment of eating to give the Lord God our full attention and ask Him to be at work in the world. The choice to fast and pray is a personal commitment to acknowledge our complete dependence on God and wholeheartedly seek Him’ (Prayer in Evangelism, Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 42, 2004). It is acknowledging that God alone has the power to release those who are under Satan’s hold.