Most Christians recognize that Satan and his minions prey upon Christians, but how many of us have considered that the kingdom of darkness prays for us as well? The Westminster Larger Catechism defines prayer, in part, as the offering up of one’s desires to God. The great 20th century pastor and theologian James Boice echoes this understanding of prayer by defining it as “our talking to God”. The two most famous examples in scripture where Satan prays are found in Job 1-2 and Luke 22:31, where Satan seeks to persecute Job, and when he asks God to sift the apostles like wheat. In the most basic sense, the kingdom of darkness prays for you, so that they might prey upon you. This reality should wake up the Church to the fact that prayer is a battlefield on which we must earnestly contend for the faith.
The effort to get you to not pray
The February 14th, 2018 school shooting that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School was an event that struck close to home. I grew up near Parkland, Florida, and at the time of the shooting, I was a teacher in the same school district as Stoneman Douglas. Aside from the pain that this tragic event inflicted on my community, I remember how Christians were mocked as we offered our thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims. Satan understands the power of prayer, and like the liar that he is, he will not hesitate to use the murder of school children to both undermine the church’s confidence in the power of prayer and get his pawns to harass Christians when they publicly express their faith in prayer. While God sometimes hears the prayers of His enemies, He promises to always give an audience to the prayers of His people. Is it then any wonder why the kingdom of darkness works so diligently to silence the prayers of the kingdom of Christ? If Satan recognizes the power of prayer how much more should Christ’s blood bought people?
The Power of Prayer
During the communist occupation of East Germany, a prayer meeting began in Leipzig, at the historic St. Nicholas Church. About a dozen people came, a modest number for one of the largest churches in the state. For seven years they met, and in 1989, the Lord saw fit to grow the small prayer meeting into a nationwide movement. The Communist Party responded by arresting the leaders of the prayer meeting, filling the church pews with disrupters so that the prayer meeting could not be seen or heard, and they even went so far as to block the roads that led to the church so that no one could attend. However, their efforts failed, and as the numbers of the faithful continued to grow, the communists went from harassing them, to listening to them, and soon, many of them began participating in prayer themselves. As news of this courageous and defiant prayer meeting spread, others around the nation followed suit. The movement did not last long, but the effectiveness of a prayer movement is not measured by its duration, but rather in how Jesus chooses to use it for His own glory. A month later, the Communist party found that they could no longer maintain control over their former subjects, and the Berlin Wall fell, leaving the Communist Party defeated. Horst Sindermann, a member of the Central Committee of the GDR had this to say, “We had planned for everything. We were prepared for everything. But not for candles and prayers.” Why does Satan want to convince you not to pray, because the prayers of the righteous are powerful enough to topple evil empires and effective enough to turn the hearts of a nation.
What we need right now
After Christ tells Peter that Satan prays against the apostles, He follows it up with this hope, “but I have prayed for you.” Satan might prey upon us, but Christ, our resurrected king, prays for us, ensuring that His kingdom will triumph, and that as co-heirs with Christ, we will inherit it. So, in the words of Harry Reeder, “[Let’s] Paint the target. Bring before the Lord the people, the situation for the power of heaven to be delivered, the battle to be won for the souls of men and women, the health and vitality of the church, and the expansion of effective ministry and the kingdom of God.”