With Halloween just around the corner, we are reminded again of the increased darkness hovering over this nation. Witches are openly cursing leaders on city sidewalks and boldly declaring their intentions to do harm to those they disagree with. The rise of deception, godlessness, and rebellion against authority is openly seen on a daily basis. There is no longer a question as to the severity of our condition or the need for a supernatural move of God. The question many believers face is how to pray. We realize this battle is not just a problem to be fixed, but a condition that must be changed.
What do we do in the face of increased lawlessness and prevalent evil? Is the practice of "binding and loosing" enough to stop things? Do we simply "take authority" over the darkness and rebuke it, expecting it to leave?
Intercessors have been doing spiritual warfare for years. There has always been great passion and conviction in the prayers for our land. Declaring the Word and decreeing God's promises have become normal weapons of warfare. For years, prophets have made decrees and declarations over regions in hopes of seeing change. Prophetic acts have been initiated by intercessors on city streets, mountain-tops, and in back alleys in response to the Spirit's prompting. Though all these tools of intercession have had their place, the methods we have been using seem to be having limited effect. Just like shooting vultures will have little effect without removing the dead flesh on the ground, so our prayers will have little effect without addressing the ground-level mindsets and ungodly beliefs of the people on the land. Until we change the way people are thinking and believing, darkness will continue to hover overhead. Until we address the lies and break the spell of deception, the vultures will continue to circle.
In the book of Acts, there are numerous examples that illustrate how the apostles dealt with city-wide strongholds and witchcraft. They never rebuked a principality or staged a demonstration against the city officials. Their methods were always the same: preach and teach the good news in order to change the way the people think (Acts 4:29-30, 5:40-42, 14:1, 17:16-17). They knew that if public opinion changed towards the truth of the gospel and the fear of the Lord, the corporate stronghold of witchcraft, rebellion, and deception would lose its hold and the demonic stronghold broken.
One story demonstrates this principle very clearly. This is the account of Philip going to Samaria where Simon, a sorcerer, had put the entire city under his spell:
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw (Acts 8:9-13, NIV).
Simon was a false prophet producing counterfeit signs and wonders. As a result, the entire city came into deception. However, there is no indication that Philip rebuked a principality or led a campaign against Simon. Instead, he preached the good news of Jesus Christ to the masses. He spoke directly to the people in order to change their minds. Because the people believed, and their hearts turned toward the Lord, the spirit of witchcraft was broken and Simon, himself, was able to receive the truth of the gospel. This is a powerful example of public opinion changing, thus dis-empowering and displacing the enemy's influence. Instead of just sweeping the house clean of demonic intrusion, the apostles taught the people how to fill their hearts and minds with lasting truth that attracted heaven instead of hell.
Corporate strongholds exist because of corporate mindsets (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). When mindsets are changed, and the truth is revealed, the enemy's hold is broken. The power and authority of preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus, followed by signs and wonders, was the standard practice of the early disciples. It repeatedly brought results, not only in personal lives, but in shifting an entire city and region towards the Lord.
Let us consider this strategy in our prayers and intercession as we face open displays of witchcraft and rising opposition to the realities of God's kingdom. Let us not settle for simply chasing away the demons. Rather, let us consider how people can be brought into the truth of God's Word and the power of the Holy Spirit that radically and eternally changes lives, cities, and regions. It's time to do the work of the evangelist and speak openly of God's truth with the expectation heaven will back it up with a demonstration of power.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16, NIV).
Let's pray for boldness in declaring the truth. Let's pray for the eyes of the blind to be opened to the gospel. Let's pray for favor in public speaking and pray for those whom the Lord is raising up to evangelize and bring healing to lost souls. Let's look for opportunities to share our own testimony and step out in faith.
The displacement of lies with the truth is the most powerful strategy in defeating corporate strongholds, overcoming witchcraft, and maintaining long-term freedom. The entire atmosphere of a city can shift, and the power of the kingdom displayed when believers speak truth, light, and life.
"And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did...So there was much joy in that city" (Acts 8:6,8, ESV).
*For more resources on how to pray for the nation, visit www.ifapray.org.