Combating Satan

Scripture, of course, is the only reliable source of information on the subject of combating Satan. In Ephesians the Apostle Paul names the armor we need for the battle we’re engaged in “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12b).

I’ve most often heard the armor identified as the list in verses 14-17: truth, righteousness, the “preparation of the gospel of peace,” faith, salvation, and the word of God. Each of those elements Paul aligns with physical armor of his day.

Too often that’s where we stop since the metaphor stops, but Paul went on to name another vital element we need in our battle against the schemes of the devil—prayer.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph 6:18-20)

Pray for all saints. Pray for those who are charged with proclaiming the gospel.

Years ago when I wrote a series of posts about Satan, I couldn’t help but think about C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. This little book contains supposed letters of instruction from an under-secretary of a department in Satan’s organization to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. At one point he gives his thoughts about rendering prayer ineffective:

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether … If this fails you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by actions of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. (pp. 33-34)

Screwtape goes on to say that should “the Enemy” defeat Wormwood’s first attempt at misdirection, all is not lost. He can still disrupt “his patient’s” prayer by getting him to pray to a “composite object” constructed from images of “the Enemy” during the Incarnation and images associated with the other two Persons, coupled with the patient’s own reverenced objects: “Whatever the nature of the composite object, you must keep him praying to it—to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him” (p. 35).

It seems to me this “keep them from praying” strategy might be all too real. How many churches dropped their prayer meetings? How many Christians dropped their family prayer times, their before-meal thanks, their individual quiet times?

And when we do pray, how much of our time is filled with requests rather than praise and thanksgiving … or confession? How many of our requests are for ourselves rather than intercession for all the saints and for those who preach the word of God? When we intercede for others, how much of our prayer is for what’s happening physically rather than for what’s happening spiritually?

Lest you wonder, I’m feeling quite convicted.

This post is a revised version of one that first appeared here in June 2019.

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7 Comments

  1. […] via Combating Satan — A Christian Worldview of Fiction […]

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  2. My same thoughts exactly, on leaving out prayer from the Christian “armor.” And prayer in the Spirit at that. Without that vital connection with our Lord and Commanding Officer, we would be adrift on the battlefield. And we are in a battle.
    Thanks for a good post!

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  3. Me again, Becky. I want to repost your blog but didn’t see a “repost” button. Since you encourage sharing your posts, I’m sure you won’t mind if I repost on my blog brokennesstobeauty.wordpress.com. Thanks!

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    • Absolutely don’t mind at all. I don’t know how the repost thing works. I thought Word Press had a button or something, but I don’t see it. They have made a few changes lately. I’ll see if I can do something on the back side. For now, feel free to copy and paste what you need. I would appreciate it if a link to the article appeared. Thanks for checking with me,

      Becky

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    • Found it, I think. In the share buttons, there’s a Press This with the WP logo. If you click on that, I think it will reblog the article.

      Edited to add. I’m still not sure how it works. I thought it would have some of the article and ask where you wanted to post it. I’m too unfamiliar with it to be of any help, I’m afraid.

      Whichever way you want to try, be my guest.

      Becky

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  4. […] Combating Satan […]

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