This Day We Fight

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January 30, 2015

Preparing for Spiritual Battle: A Disclaimer

Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle.

Psalm 144: 1

DISCLAIMER

There are many people who are much more knowledgeable and experienced in spiritual warfare than I am. I know a number of them.

But I am here, and there is a need, and I believe that God has called me to address it — at least in this venue. I do hope and pray that the real, seasoned prayer warriors will contribute to these posts with advice and lessons that they have learned along the way.

There is a lack of focus on spiritual warfare waged on behalf of the persecuted church around the world, and in particular, against the incursion of global Islamic supremacism, whether through violence or through more subtle means in the West. Much of spiritual warfare seems to me to be focused on personal issues, domestic “culture war” issues, and evangelism, with not a lot of energy or time left over for issues beyond our borders.

TERRORISM AS PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL WAR

This is one reason why I have been so grateful for Francis Frangipane’s This Day We Fight. Although all the teaching about spiritual warfare is applicable to the global conflict we face today, Frangipane actually mentions that crisis in this context.

In This Day We Fight, Chapter 4,  “The War Mode,” addresses terrorism as “physical and spiritual war.” Says Frangipane:

We are at a war on a global scale, and physical war always calls Christians to spiritual war [emphasis mine throughout]. This aggressive stance is governed by love for people, but it is fearless and uncompromising against the powers of darkness.

He then goes on to explain how this concept applies to terrorism:

For many years Islamic terrorists have been bullying nations throughout the Middle East and beyond. Even the U.S. was intimidated and overly cautious, hesitant about retaliating against the repeated attacks Islamists made against our nation. . . . For years we accepted their tactics and let appeasement guide our actions. Our prayer was hardly more than a whimper: “Please make them leave us alone.” 

There have been other whimpered prayers — or wishes, in the case of people who don’t pray — such as “Please make us nicer people, so they will like us.” Others have perfected the “why don’t they like us?” mode of response to be certain of all the reasons why ‘they’ shouldn’t like us and why we are getting just what we deserve! Or as Frangipane puts it, “We blamed their fury on poverty, ignorance, or the exploitation of Muslims by the West.”

SPIRITUAL DECEPTION ABOUT EVIL

But do keep in mind that the “us” in this case includes our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world. We have reached the point in our denial of reality where, for example, some U.S. government officials practically justify Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram’s slaughter of Christians in northern Nigeria (when they are not denying that it takes place at all). This is in itself spiritual warfare.

Frangipane believes that “God’s command to governments” is “different from His word to disciples.” He says that “part of the role of government is to administer justice and to exercise punishment.” If we understand the importance of the government functioning in the way that God has created it to function, we will understand the importance of strategic and targeted prayer for the government’s functioning.

Refuting those who would say that such a view is only “Old Testament thinking,” Frangipane offers St. Paul. He shows how Paul writes, “If you do what is evil, be afraid; for [a government] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (Romans 13: 4) Frangipane further says, “The individual who says that governments of “Christian” nations should turn the other cheek — that they should not punish evil or that the wicked should be free to fulfill evil without consequence — is denouncing justice.”

MORAL EQUIVALENCE AND OTHER COWARDLY STANCES 

This is another avenue of spiritual warfare. There are two ways in which individuals, churches, or governments excuse evil or allow “the wicked” to be free “to fulfill evil without consequence.” One is through moral equivalence — seeing the perpetrators of evil and their victims as morally equivalent. In many cases in recent history, those who have perpetrated great evil have been offered “power-sharing” arrangements rather than the justice they deserve. Another way in which evil is excused is through moral relativism or downright denial that “evil” even exists! One former United Nations Secretary General declared that he did not believe that there was such a thing as evil. Spiritual deception has enabled this development. People have been spiritually deceived into believing that they are being “nicer” and “more tolerant” to call evil “evil.”

In conclusion, Frangipane warns:

We must not confuse false peace, which is the result of compromise born of fear, with real peace, which comes from our resolve to win our war against evil. . . . [Written in 2005, but consider it now in terms of our beleaguered brothers and sisters around the world, and our responsibility to them, as well.] As long as we are at our war [or, there is a war being waged against our Christian brothers and sisters and other vulnerable populations], our role as Christians is to stand up and pray for our leaders, support our troops, and intercede for mercy to fall upon the Muslim people. We must engage in the intercessions of Christ. And we must follow through fearlessly in spiritual warfare, praying aggressively against terrorism and the demons that drive terrorists to fulfill evil.

In order to engage in the intercessions of Christ, we need to be prepared for battle. It is the LORD Himself who “trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle,” as David says in Psalm 144. In the next post in this series I will talk about how we prepare our own spirits to engage in spiritual warfare.

(Quotations from This Day We Fight: Breaking the Bondage of a Passive Spirit, Francis Frangipane, 2005, Chosen Books, Grand Rapids.)

(Although it is Juicy Ecumenism policy to allow all comments as long as they are not obscene or threatening, I want to foster real discussion in the This Day We Fight series, relevant to the topic. Therefore, I am going to disallow any comments that are not relevant and are designed to distract attention from the topic. Be forewarned.)

 


9 Responses to Preparing for Spiritual Battle: A Disclaimer

  1. Ashby Neterer says:

    Faith,

    The truth of this article is so necessary in this age.

    It is extremely important, and at times difficult, to remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (‭Ephesians‬ ‭6‬:‭12‬ NIV).” We are not fighting people, but the forces of evil that drive people. When Jesus casted a legion of demons out of a man, the man became a minister of God’s mercy (Mark 5:18–20). Let this be our prayer for radical Islamists and other known terrorist groups: may they be so profoundly affected by God’s mercy in answer to our prayers that they forsake their ways and worship the one, true God.

    We must also remember that we are given an extraordinary authority in prayer. When we intercede for our nation, we are not just throwing up weak words and hoping that God will do something. We are told that God hears and acts on anything we ask according to His will (1 John 5:14–15), that if any two of us stand in agreement in our supplications to God it will be granted to us (Matthew 18:19), and that we have the authority to tread over the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). No new believer locked in a room with a Bible would come out thinking that God does not answer prayer, and I pray that no part of the Church will be blinded to believe that lie of our culture.

    Dutch Sheets’ book Authority in Prayer: Praying with Power and Purpose details the importance of intercessory prayer, and it’s an easy read. I highly suggest it to anyone looking to expand his or her knowledge on and application of prayer.

    • faithmcdonnell says:

      Thanks so much, Ashby. Great thoughts there. I totally agree that we should pray for individuals Islamists, Boko H, Khartoum, ISIS, etc. that they would be brought to repentance and have their lives or transformed….with one additional thought to yours. My prayer is either that happen or they be totally destroyed. In addition, the evil systems that they are a part of it…I just pray that they would be totally eliminated — either that they would be thrown into total confusion, turn on each other, or through some other creative means that God has in mind….

      Dutch Sheets is great! God bless, Faith

  2. Grant LeMarquand says:

    Hello Faith,

    Thanks so much for your article. I have longed worried that when we Christians talk about spiritual warfare we individualize what the Evil One does, as if his only concern is to destroy the psyches of isolated persons. The Enemy is just as interested in political, social, ecclesiastical, cultural movements. I have long felt that ‘exorcism’ rites need to be extend beyond individuals to places, cities, countries, etc. (Actually the Anglican Church of Kenya has a good little service in their prayer book for the ‘restoring of things defiled’, written after the police of Nairobi beat people who had fled to the Cathedral for refuge.) If I were the devil, I would be happy if Christians only saw the devil’s works in our inner lives, rather than in the events of the world.

    More and more, my prayers (for example) for the war in South Sudan have focused on pleading with God to thwart the work of Satan who seems to have possessed certain movements which are focused only on destruction.

    Thanks for the reminder of the importance of prayer!

    thanks
    +Grant LeMarquand, The Horn of Africa

    • faithmcdonnell says:

      Thank you so much, Bishop Grant. I am honored that you took the time to write. I think of you and Dr. Wendy and pray for you and for all the brothers and sisters in Gambella and throughout the Horn. YES! I love the way that you have framed it — Christians too often only see the devil’s work in our inner lives rather than in the events of the world! I love that the Anglican Church of Kenya has a service for restoring the order to things that have been defiled. And thank you for your prayers for South Sudan. Definitely demonic. So much confusion, so many lies, so much deceit…in addition to the violence. God bless you both, with love in Christ, Faith

  3. Pudentiana says:

    When I consider how Nehemiah dealt with those warring against those rebuilding the wall, it reminds me that we as Christians must always be alert to the wiles of the enemy and both pray and act to insure victory. Confusion is not God’s way, but I sometimes think that believers become confused by the so-called Christian stance of pacifism. This has crippled us in both moving the Gospel across the globe and also kept us from taking our assigned position on the wall with Nehemiah. Love and Truth must work together to eliminate the inroads of evil in all areas of our lives. A young man recently told me that he enjoys horror movies because they are one of the only media which recognizes the true existence of “evil”. Our prayers become more powerful when we fearlessly recognize that we face a defeated foe, but that he is still raging on the planet and needs a stake in the heart.

    • faithmcdonnell says:

      Agree, @pudentiana:disqus. The Insider Movement in global mission work has also caused great confusion both in Christians in the West having a realistic perspective on Islam and for Muslim Background Believers who are not part of the Insider Movement (they are not confused about the Truth, they are confused why Western Christians are pushing the Insider Movement!).

      I can understand the young man who likes horror movies. I read detective stories and like crime shows for a similar reason. There is such a thing as justice.

      Love your concluding remark. Amen. We face a defeated foe. He is still raging, and not only that, some Christians mistakenly think that loving your enemies — those who are inspired by that foe — means pretending that they are not enemies. That’s just denial, not real forgiveness.

  4. ericalexander says:

    It is probably obvious to everyone on this blog but me how these worthy and powerful Judeo-Christian ideas are specifically to be put into practice. How do we specifically engage in Spiritual Warfare? “Pray without ceasing”? A given. Sanction the most powerful military force in history to rain death upon a much smaller foe knowing full well there are innocents in the crossfire? (Is “Well, they asked for it” sufficient excuse for a mature Christian conscience?) Teach my family to use guns and purchase an arsenal like many of my neighbors? Now I’m uncomfortable. I think all here agree in the abstract. The war of words and ideas even among Believers begins when specific actions are discussed. “Love”, “Truth”, “Pacifism” are important issues. “Is God telling me to waterboard, whip or shoot this person?” How should a Christian respond to that?

    • faithmcdonnell says:

      Hi Eric! Sorry, I just saw that you had commented. I hope that people will have a good, constructive conversation about all of these things as we progress. Setting up a This Day We Fight google group to go forward on prayer, fasting, and activism, as well as conversation. Sounds as if we need some good Just War Theorists to engage in this. Maybe I will recruit my friend Keith Pavlischek to provide some of that!

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