Sunday, July 09, 2006

Jesus-Style Spiritual Warfare

Lessons we learn from Jesus' spiritual warfare prayer
By Eddie Smith

Then the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you apostles for himself. He wants to separate you from me as a farmer separates wheat from husks. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples." (Luke 22:31-32, GW).

Almost 2,000 years after Jesus spoke these words to Simon Peter, Christians continue to debate the validity of spiritual warfare prayer.

However, I suspect that those who argue against spiritual warfare prayer argue less with Scripture and more with some of our models and methods. They would say, "Perhaps spiritual warfare prayer is valid, but what that group is doing can't possibly be it!" And, in some cases, they may be correct. There are some things about these two verses that I find particularly interesting.

First, notice that Jesus is so in touch with heaven (because of His own intimate prayer life) that He knew what Satan had demanded of the Father. Remember, Jesus was completely dependent upon the Father (see John 5:19). Without his daily "military intelligence report" from heaven, Jesus was helpless. He could do nothing. So, true spiritual warfare prayer, whatever it is, is absolutely heaven- dependent. What Satan is doing today is not nearly as important as what God is doing, when it comes to spiritual warfare!

Second, look at what Satan really wanted. We know Satan's job description is "to steal, to kill, and to destroy" (see John 10:10). Jesus said that Satan wanted to sift Peter (and the other disciples) like a farmer separates the wheat from the husks. But look what Satan was actually after. He wanted to separate the Apostles from Jesus! His war strategy was to "divide and conquer."

Third, Jesus said, "But I have prayed for you." No doubt Peter breathed a big sigh of relief at this point. He must have thought, What a relief. For a minute there it sounded like I was going to be sifted, whatever that means. But Peter's relief was short lived, for Jesus continued, "I have prayed that your faith won't fail during the sifting." What do you mean, "During the sifting!?" Why didn't you pray that I wouldn't be sifted?"

Again, Christ wasn't praying according to Satan's agenda. His praying was based on God's agenda. And at the time, God was developing Apostles. And Apostles, like you and me, are forged in the fiery furnace of affliction. At times, God will even allow the enemy to do things in our lives, in order to accomplish His purposes.

Old Testament saints prayed to be delivered from their circumstances. New Testament saints pray to be developed by their circumstances.

Finally, you will see that Jesus had no doubt about Peter's ultimate victory. Why would He? After all, He had prayed in faith for Peter's faith not to fail. So, he confidently says, "So when (not if) you recover,

A happily married woman with two children lost both of them. They were buried in the same grave. After that, she suffered a deep emotional collapse. For years her family fed and cared for her as though she was as weak and helpless as a little child.

One day her aunt, a joyful Christian, took her turn at feeding her. The distraught and despondent woman said, "Auntie, you keep on saying that God loves us. I used to think so too; but if He loves us, why did He make me as I am?"

The aunt kissed her gently, said with the wisdom of years, "Dear, He hasn't made you yet. He's making you now!"

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine." ==============================

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