Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
Psalm 144: 1
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.)