This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
We’ll begin with a little brief review. Our theme is spiritual warfare, I believe that’s the title we chose. And in our previous studies we first of all laid a foundation of the fact that we are engaged in a wrestling match, as Christians, which is not against persons with bodies, but against rulerships and the realms of their authority, against the world dominators of this present darkness, of spiritual forces or hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. It is kingdom against kingdom. The kingdom of God against the kingdom of Satan. Each is a spiritual kingdom.
Because we are involved in this warfare, God has given to us the spiritual weapons which are needed for victory. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of Satan’s strongholds. We saw that essentially the battlefield is in the realm of the mind.
And then we saw that first of all, entering this conflict we need to be sure that we have the protective equipment which God has provided. And this is listed in Ephesians 6:14–17. There are six items of equipment. Let’s check and see how good our memories are. Item number one is the girdle of truth. Number two, the breastplate of righteousness. Number three, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Number four, shield of faith. Number five, the helmet of salvation, which is hope. If you don’t remember anything but that, you will have got your money’s worth out of these classes. And number six, the sword of the Spirit, which is the spoken Word of God.
And then we saw yesterday that beyond this is that tremendous spiritual weapon of “all prayer.” Paul says at the end of that list: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching there unto.” And I suggested to you that the greatest and most powerful and far reaching spiritual weapon committed to the church is prayer. But that prayer sometimes needs to be undergirded by two other disciplines. The discipline of fasting and the discipline of watching—staying awake when others sleep. God has promised to avenge His own elect who cry unto Him day and night. And God has set watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem who will give Him no peace day or night.
In our last period we examined together what I would call the main spiritual weapons and the means of their launching. We said first of all, the basic fact is stated in Colossians 2:13–15, that Christ has once and for all defeated Satan, stripped him of his weapons through His death on the cross. We need always to bear in mind that essentially we do not have to defeat Satan; we have to administer the defeat which Christ has already achieved. And Paul talks there in that passage in Colossians about a triumph. Without going into all the details, a triumph is not the winning of a battle but it’s the celebration of a battle that has already been won. And in a sense, God invites us to join the triumph of Christ over the forces of evil.
Then we said that there are probably three main weapons that we can find in Scripture and which we can prove in experience: the Word of God, the name of Jesus, and the blood of Jesus. We said that all spiritual weapons are launched through one channel which is? The mouth, that’s right. We suggested four main distinct ways of launching these spiritual weapons through our mouths. Number one, prayer. Number two, praise. Number three, testimony. And number four, preaching. And we dealt yesterday at the close with some examples from the book of Acts of the ways in which we saw the different means of launching these weapons used there. We closed with a passage from Revelation 12:7–11 which describes, it would seem to me, the climax of this spiritual war where the believers ultimately prevail to the casting down of Satan out of his strongholds in the heavenlies. And I think the key verse is verse 11:
“And they [the believers] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (KJV)
We spoke about the kind of persons who are qualified for this warfare and we summed up in the word committed. People who are committed to Christ whether it means living or dying. The important thing is not to stay alive; the important thing is to do the will of God. But people of that kind of commitment will be the ones to overcome Satan and the two weapons particularly specified there are the blood of the Lamb and the Word of God. And they are made effective by our testimony. We compared that briefly to the use of the blood in the Passover ceremony where the Passover lamb was slain, its blood was caught in a basin, but the blood in the basin protected no one. The blood had to be transferred from the basin to the place where God’s people were. In the Old Covenant this was done with a little herb called hyssop. But in the New Covenant the hyssop is our testimony. And it’s our testimony that makes the blood effective in our situation.
Now this morning, in concluding this series, I want to speak about two specific forms of prayer which are expressions of aggressive praying. I’m far from suggesting that what I say exhausts the possibilities. I think it just begins to open a door. There is much more to be entered into. But let me give you now two specific types of prayer which I have proved in personal experience over the years, and I have proved their efficacy.
The first is the prayer of binding and loosing. And I’d like to begin in Matthew 16:19 where Jesus says to Peter:
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (KJV)
Now I realize that volumes of theological controversy have been written about that and I’m not interested in writing another volume. I just point out the fact that to Peter at that moment was conferred the most tremendous spiritual authority. Authority to be exercised on earth, but effective in heaven. “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shalt be loosed in heaven.” However, I don’t want to stop there, because I want to go on to Matthew 18 where the same promise is given but is given in the plural. One of the advantages of the King James translation (and I’m not trying to sell the King James to anybody) is that it preserves the distinction in the second person between singular and plural, which doesn’t exist in modern English. In modern English we say you (unless we’re Southern and we say y’all), to regard us. The first time a Southerner said to me y’all, I looked around to see if somebody else was there. But setting that aside, in English we say you whether we’re talking to one person or more than one. But in old Elizabethan English they said thou to one and ye to more than one. So sometimes the modern translations don’t bring out whether it’s one person that’s spoken to or more. For instance, Jesus said to Peter at the Last Supper, He said, “Peter, Satan has desired to have you,” plural. “All you disciples—that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee [singular], that thy faith fail not. And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” See, there’s a whole lot that’s obscured unless you know whether he’s speaking about one person or more than one.
Now when we come to Matthew 18 it’s plural. The same promise is taken that was given initially to Peter as one person and it’s extended, I would say, to believers who meet the conditions. Reading from verse 18 through verse 20:
“Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you [and then I think in very much the same context Jesus says], If two of you shall agree as touching any thing that they shall ask ...” (KJV)
The word agree in Greek is sumphoneo, which gives us the English word, symphony. It does not mean intellectual agreement, it means musical harmony. If two of you can harmonize as touching anything that you ask, it will be done. It’s a harmony in the spirit, not just an intellectual decision to pray for Aunt Mary in the hospital. And then Jesus goes on to say:
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name.” (KJV)
The Greek says, “Where two or three have been led together into my name.” I use the word led
because it demands a leader. And I believe the leader is the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14 says:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (KJV)
So Jesus is speaking about believers brought together by the Holy Spirit around the focus of the name of Jesus. Not on the basis of denomination or doctrine, but around the person of Christ represented by His name. And He says where that takes place, “I am in the midst.” Do you think the Lord attends every meeting of the board of deacons? I don’t. I think He’s too much of a gentleman! Some of them are anything but sweet, and there’s very little harmony. Jesus says, “When you’re led together by My Spirit in My name and you can harmonize, count on My presence. And there’s where the authority is.” I do not believe we can detach verse 18 from verses 19 and 20. The exercise of the authority depends on the leading of the Holy Spirit and being so in relationship to our fellow believers that we can harmonize with them. And then Jesus said, “On that basis, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be having been bound in heaven. Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be having been loosed in heaven.” It’s very, very emphatic.
I don’t know whether I can express this to you in English, but the tense used for bind and loose is a perfect participle. Some of you, I might have well said that in Greek! All right. Let’s approach it another way. The Greek language contains very subtle, refined use of tenses. That’s the form of the verb that shows you the time that is referred to. Just to give you an example from English: in English we have the simple past, we have the perfect tense. They’re different in their connotation. The simple past, I would say: The door was closed yesterday. All right? The perfect is, The door has been closed.
Now there’s a difference. If I use the simple past, I say what something was that happened yesterday, I say nothing about the present situation. The door was closed yesterday, today it may be closed or open, we don’t know. But when I use the perfect, I’m telling you something about the past and the present. “The door has been closed” implies that it is closed now.
All right. So the perfect tense tells you something that happened in the past with continuing application right on into the present. And Jesus says, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be having been bound [perfect tense] in heaven.” It’s very emphatic. It’s absolute. It leaves no room for any kind of alternative or any doubts or dispute. “Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be having been loosed in heaven.”
Now there are two ways to understand this. And you may take your choice. And it’s very interesting. One emphasizes man’s responsibility; the other emphasizes God’s sovereignty. You have a real kind of theological meeting point here. And as I say, you can take your choice. If you want to emphasize man’s responsibility it’s this way. “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be having been bound in heaven.” The moment you bind it on earth, it’s bound in heaven. Your action is decisive. Though you take the action on earth, the consequences are effected in heaven.
All right. The other translation which is followed, I think, by ?Volderham? and perhaps one or two others is not really such—it’s a little difficult to get it out of the Greek. But it says, “What you bind on earth will be that which has already been bound in heaven.” You see? That places all the emphasis on God’s sovereignty. You can only bind on earth what has already been bound in heaven. But it still places upon us the responsibility to do it. Because until it’s done, it’s not effective. So you can, as I say, take your choice. Really, it’s two different emphases, but it’s the same truth. And in either view, it places upon us on earth the responsibility for what goes on in heaven. This is absolutely staggering.
We’ve got the attitude: “If only God would do something!” Many times God says, “It’s up to you. Why don’t you do it?” I’ll give you two examples of this. I’m going to get lost in this and I’m not going to get back again. It worries me, but anyhow. It’s a sin to be worried.
I’ll give you two examples. One is the Bible. How many of you know the Bible dropped down complete out of heaven? Sixty-six books. H-m-m? That’s how most Protestants talk. Most Fundamentalists. They just talk as though the Bible suddenly appeared complete one day. Well, you know, that isn’t true. Do you know how it did come? Do you know that men in churches had to sit together and hammer this question out line by line and sentence by sentence until they arrived at a sense of determination of what was the mind of the Spirit? And we wouldn’t have the Bible without the church. The average Protestant uses the Bible to beat the church with. But it’s not totally logical. If there had been no church, there’d be no Bible. The church determined what the Bible would be. So then the Catholic says, “Well, there you are. You see, the authority is with the church.” And my answer to that is, “Fine. But if the church gave us the Bible, if we don’t respect the Bible, we dishonor the church.” So you see, you just can’t get around God.
All right. The other is a very up-to-date example. A friend of mine, who is a pastor in Denmark—in fact, he’s the pastor of the church of which my wife and I have been missionaries for thirty years. And he’s a very gifted, intelligent, significant young man. He has recently been made pastor. And he was sharing with me last year about this time when I was in Denmark, the problem that he’s having dealing with marrying people who have been divorced. Until recently that wasn’t a common problem in Denmark because not so many people were being divorced. But unfortunately they’re going the way of America now and divorce is becoming increasingly common. And as you know, the Pentecostal people tend to take a pretty straight, we could say legalistic, stand about it. So he refused to marry one couple and then another couple came and he agreed to marry them, one of them having been divorced. Well, then there was some agitation in the church, some disapproval. So he thought he’ll seek the Lord. So he took a day to seek the Lord. And in the course of seeking the Lord, he had two kind of encounters with the Lord. The first one he said, “Well, Lord, why didn’t You make it plain in Your Word so that everybody could understand just exactly what You meant about marriage and divorce?” And he felt the Lord gave him this answer: “Because if I had done, you’d have used it as a rod to beat people with!” So after he got over that one, he said, “Well, Lord [very humbly],” he said, “You know, You just show me what You want done, what You would do, and I’ll do it.” And the Lord said, “On the contrary. You tell me what you’ll do, and I’ll do it!” See, that’s this. “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be having been bound in heaven.” God says, “The initiative is with you. You make the decision; I’ll go along with it.” Can you believe that?! Some of you can’t. The fact of the matter is we have a much greater responsibility than we are willing to face up to. And let me offer you my personal opinion. Every single question of a doubtful marriage has got to be dealt with individually, not on the basis of some blanket regulation.
All right. Some of you have now written me off and the others are on my side! Okay. Well, we’re coming back now to the kind of prayer that is binding and loosing. The authority that’s invested in believers meeting together in the name of Jesus and harmonizing with one another. The whole essence of the teaching of this part of the 18th chapter of Matthew is right relationships. The power is not given to those who are not in right relationships. God has fenced this thing around so that you can’t get in as long as you’re not right in your personal relationships.
See, God has invited us to share the throne with Him. Ephesians 2:6 says we’re seated with Christ in heavenly places. But God has got to take a few elementary precautions because otherwise the universe is going to be in problem. You take a newly converted Baptist and put him on the throne and hand him God’s thunderbolts and he’ll blast all the Catholics out of existence. Or, the other way around. Well, God says, “You’re welcome to the throne and the thunderbolts, but you’ve got to meet a few personal conditions first.”
Now let me point out to you that binding and loosing essentially cover any situation that you can think of. I invite you to think this over for yourself. But basically if you know how to bind and loose, there is no situation to which you do not have the answer when you see the forces involved. And if there should be anything left out, Jesus goes on to say, “Well, it’s covered by ‘If two of you can agree as touching anything that you will ask.’” So in those two verses it’s all authority that will ever be needed in prayer.
Now I want to speak about one particular type of binding which I believe is relevant to our theme. I’d like you to look at two passages. First of all, in Matthew 12, just reading verse 28. We read this passage earlier because it’s the one that spotlights the two kingdoms in conflict: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Jesus says in verse 28:
“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. [Verse 29, and this is in the same context:] Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods [take his goods from him. Spoil doesn’t mean ruin them, it means take them from him. It’s booty.] except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house [then he will take his possessions].” (KJV)
Now there’s a parallel passage in Luke 11 which I’d like you to look at before we comment on it.
Luke 11:21–22, we’ll read from verse 20 to see that it’s exactly the same context.
“But if I with the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” (KJV)
It’s interesting to compare those two passages because it tells you something very significant. In Matthew, Jesus said, “If I, by the Spirit of God.” In Luke, He says, “If I, by the finger of God.” What does that tell you? The finger of God is the Spirit of God. And the Holy Spirit is a finger. He’s not just a hand. When the Holy Spirit deals with something in your life, he puts the tip of His finger right on the spot. He doesn’t feel around and say, “Is there something here?” He says, “You told a lie.” And He gives you the date, the time and the place. All right.
Now, going on in Luke, the same context:
“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” (KJV)
Luke is fuller than Matthew. Now I think there are two applications as in many Scriptures. The first is directly to Jesus and the devil. The devil was the strong man armed who kept his palace. He had everything the way he wanted it, no one could resist him, everything was under his control. He was a strong man armed. But Jesus, stronger than the devil, came upon him and defeated him and, listen friends, “took from him all his armor wherein he trusted.” The devil is an unarmed foe, we said that yesterday. The armor is on our side. And, having done that, he divided his spoils. He took everything the devil had in his palace and said, “Help yourself.” Praise God.
Matthew says, “How can one enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods except he first bind the strong man?” Matthew specifically uses the word bind. Now it is my impression that the Holy Spirit is seeking to show us that this is where it’s at. That much of our activity, though good, will not be fully effective until in any given situation we deal with the strong man. We’re trying to take away his goods, but we haven’t bound him. Now we have a kind of conflict and we get some results, but I really believe that—in fact, I know that—the Lord showed me at the end of last year, this year, He was going to start initiating us into how to deal with the strong man. And that further progress would depend on our learning this message. I say emphatically once more: Jesus is the one who defeated the devil. We’ve seen that in Colossians 2. He did it. But on the other hand, we have got our part to play. We have to administer His defeat. And so in any given situation where God places us with the responsibility of ministry, we’ve got to come to grips with the strong man.
Now the strong man is Satan’s delegated representatives to watch over Satan’s interests in that situation. Going back to Daniel 10 you’ll remember that we had the prince of the kingdom of Persia, the prince of Grecia. Each was a strong man. One representing Satan’s interest in Persia, the other in Greece. And before the answer to Daniel’s prayer could come, the strong man over Persia had to be overcome. It was essential. There was no way around him.
Now I believe there are many echelons in Satan’s kingdom, many levels of authority. I do not have a diagram to offer. I believe, for instance, there probably still is a strong man over Greece. He’s probably the same one. I think there’s probably the same one over Persia. But we aren’t living in Greece or Persia. We’re living in America. And I do not doubt that over America Satan has echelons of strong men. And I believe they they’re probably in ascending authority; a city, a community, a state, and the whole nation. Also I think there are probably different satanic forces for different kinds of communities. For instance, I would think the people of Spanish-American background have one type of strong man. I am absolutely convinced the people of Black backgrounds, Negro background from Africa, have a specific type of strong man which really has not been dealt with. And I have no doubt whatever that the American Indian are still to this day dominated by the same strong man that was here when the first white man arrived, and that’s the main reason why there’s been so little real spiritual penetration amongst American Indians. And until someone learns how to deal with that strong man, the results are going to be very disappointing.
Now, I am feeling my way into this. I don’t have all answers but I want to suggest that those of you who are serious prayer warriors, to the others I would say don’t play games because it’s dangerous. To those of you who are prepared to be serious prayer warriors, I would say God is going to begin to reveal to you the particular type of strong man that is dominating the situation you confront. It could be just over one family. Or it could be over a little area in a city. Or it could be over some type of business. I suppose there must be a strong man over the Mafia, I wouldn’t doubt that. I don’t think anything else could explain the tremendous measure of power that they exercise. And so, at this point, we’re dependent to a large measure on revelation. Not Bible revelation, but direct word of knowledge revelation. Paul said I don’t fight like one that’s beating the air. I don’t just lash out with my fists and hope I’ll land on my opponent. I’m not a blindfolded boxer. I aim my blows where I know my opponent is and where it will hurt him the most. I think we’re going to have to do that with the devil.
Now I’m going to give you two instances of this that I’ve experienced this year. I have to be somewhat careful that I don’t give away too much about specific personalities or places, which makes it a little vague. But I have been for some time past very closely related to what is coming to be known as a community. A group of people living in a covenant relationship, mostly young people, mostly in their twenties. And for two or three years this community had grown and flourished and according to my observation it was one of the most successful in the nation. And then suddenly it was torn apart in the most, to me, almost incredible way. Two of the elders turned against the lead elder, condemned him as being guilty of witchcraft and excommunicated him. And the whole thing happened in a few hours. And then I got involved in it. And it really was something that shocked me. So sometime later I met in another city with a group of brothers who knew the situation and one who was from the community. And we were taking counsel together as to how to deal with this situation which, in my opinion, represented a major victory for Satan. And I felt a measure of personal responsibility. But while we were talking, somebody casually related that a few months previously, someone in this community had been given a vision of an armed man in a coat of mail, standing over the community. And the moment I heard that something in me said, “That’s the strong man.” And I identified him as legalism. The iron man of harsh legalism. So I shared this with the brothers, we prayed and bound that strong man right where we were. Less than twenty-four hours later, the two other elders phoned, without having been approached, and said “We realize we did entirely the wrong thing. We’re sorry, we’ve repented, we want to put it right.” Well, I could hardly believe it! If I had gone there and argued with them for a week they wouldn’t have done that. But once the real force in the situation was dealt with, it was just like walking in and spoiling his goods. Help yourself. Of course, you have to understand that when a thing like that happens in a community it creates a kind of shock which has got to be dealt with over a period of time. Not everything is dealt with instantly.
Now the other instance that I will give you was related in Logos and referred to in New Wine and also in Christianity Today. It was a counsel of ministers that I was present there in Oklahoma City about two months ago. There were about thirty-eight Charismatic ministers and leaders there. I’d been in every one of these councils that had been held since the first one in Seattle in l971. It was a very tense confrontation, the issue, would you believe it, discipleship. The vortex of the storm, Fort Lauderdale. Well, I don’t want to go into detail because it would take an hour or two. But the fact of the matter was, the first night we really got down to business, God showed a brother a picture of a wild boar. He’s a very sober brother, one I’ve known a good many years. Let me say if it helps you to see how sober he was, he’s a Lutheran. And it was confirmed through two other brothers. And without going into detail, practically the whole company of ministers from many different backgrounds became convinced that he was our problem. And that we would have to deal with him. So then when we attempted to deal with him, the Holy Spirit made it very clear to us we couldn’t deal with him until our personal relationships were right, which is exactly what it says in Matthew 18. So it took about forty-eight hours of the most intense spiritual transactions and at the end of that time we felt we had broken through to right relationships. And then we gathered in a circle in a room and officially we bound the wild boar. The same brother that had seen him saw him again in a vision, the life gone out of him, lying lifeless. And one of the brothers there, a well-known Charismatic leader whom I highly respect, said, “I know the identity of the boar. It’s the spirit of religious controversy.” And interestingly enough, one of the Lutheran brothers said, “I’ve had to confess my sins and the sins of my fathers, as a Lutheran, for the emphasis we have placed over the centuries on religious controversy.” I’ll tell you, that was quite a meeting. I mean, I heard things said I never believed I would hear while I lived. But the application simply is that we were, shall I say, the plaything of a spiritual force. And with all our will and intelligence and technique, we couldn’t handle the situation.
I’ll tell you another situation that was related to me by a friend of mine. And I have to, again, speak in such a way that I don’t reveal his identity, but he was involved in a big commitment, a major outreach for the Lord which the whole council of his church had agreed to support. But when he began to make the financial commitments and make the plans, it seemed as though the church council vacillated and were extremely indecisive. One day they would support, the next day they wouldn’t. And then they said, “We want you to retract and withdraw this outreach.” But he said, “I’m committed and I cannot withdraw because many other people have made commitments on the basis of mine.” So he and his wife in a condition of spiritual desperation went to visit another couple, well-known Christians, friends of theirs. And when they began to pray about the situation the other man saw a scene in the church. They were all members of the same church. And he saw the council of the church meeting and little strings going up from them into an unseen realm above. And the picture was of people like marionettes just moving the way they were jerked by a string. And so he said, “Well, the only thing to do in prayer is cut that string.” So they did. The next day the council met and without further argument or discussion, unanimously voted to support this outreach.
What I am saying is if we can find the strong man and bind him, we can save ourselves a lot of hard work.
That’s one type of prayer. We’ve got just a little while to go, I want to take the other which is specific, directed, persistent prayers given by the Holy Spirit. And you get that down if you want to: Specific, directed, persistent prayers given by the Holy Spirit. I want to take two pictures from the Old Testament. The first is in Joshua 8. This chapter deals with the capture of the city of Ai by the children of Israel. Previously, in the previous chapter they tried and failed because there was sin in the camp. Sin was dealt with and then God said, “Now go back and take the city,” and He gave them the strategy to take the city [which we do not need to go into]. It was a military strategy which included an ambush and other things. But in the middle of the story of all the military operations, we have something that God told Joshua to do that had no military significance at all. And that was to stretch out his spear directly toward the city that they were to take. And I’ll read the verse. Joshua 8:18:
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.” (KJV)
Now that outstretched spear had no military significance at all. Its significance was spiritual. In verses 24–26 of the same chapter, it says that the Israelites completely captured and destroyed the city. And then it gives this comment in verse 26:
“For [in other words, because] Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.” (KJV)
Now Joshua stretched out his spear when the battle began and he kept his spear stretched out in the same position, directed specifically toward Ai, until the victory had been totally won. The spear did nothing military. Its significance was spiritual. I’ll express it this way: It was Joshua laying hold upon God’s promise to give them Ai, and claiming it until it was completely fulfilled.
Now that outstretched spear, to me, is a beautiful picture of God-given, persistent, unwavering, directed prayer. So many people, when they pray, they wave the spear half around the horizon. “God bless all our missionaries.” Well, I don’t know whether anybody ever feels the effect of a prayer like that or not. But I’m talking about something that is specific. You got your objective and you propose to take it and you are not going to draw the spear back until the objective is taken. The great emphasis, especially in the psalms of David, is on destroying our enemies, consuming them, not letting them rise. Psalm 18, you read part of that and he says, “I beat them small like the dust in the street. I tramp on them till they couldn’t rise up again.” God does not approve of partial victory. So many times as Christians we win partial victories and then we draw the spear back. And we have problems later with Ai. All right. Let’s look at the next picture because I have to hurry on. It’s in 2 Kings 13. It relates to the deathbed scene of the prophet Elisha. Elisha was prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The king over Israel at that time was Joash who was also called Jehoash. When Joash the king heard that Elisha was about to die, he came down to see him on his deathbed. And the first thing he said was, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” What did he mean by that? In my opinion, that king acknowledged that the true spiritual protection of Israel was not in the armies that the king commanded, but in the present of the prophet in their midst. And he was, I would say, overwhelmed at the thought that the prophet was about to leave them and where would their protection be. And when he came, Elisha told him to do something that was related to the military situation of Israel at that time. Israel was being threatened by a stronger power from the north and the east, very similar to the situation at this present hour, the power was Syria. And before Elisha died he made provision to deal with the threat of Syria against Israel. I suppose that he was so concerned with the well being of God’s people that he could not die in peace until he had made this provision. Now the provision that he made was very remarkable and it’s similar to the situation with Joshua except that the weapons used are a bow and arrow. Now let me read it. The King James does not put in the names of the persons through it so I’ll fill it in. Where it says “he” or “him” I’ll say who he was and who him was. Second Kings 13:14 and following:
“Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” (KJV)
I think it’s a sad fact that sometimes we only appreciate how much people mean to us when they’re about to leave us. And I want to suggest to you it might pay you to appreciate some people earlier. Especially husbands, wives and wives, husbands. Don’t leave it till your wife’s deathbed to tell her that you love her. Verse 15:
“Elisha said unto him, take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. And he [Elisha] said to the king of Israel, put thine hand upon the bow. And he [the king] put his hand upon it; and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.” (KJV)
There was the king with his hands on the bow and Elisha leaned over and put his hands on the king’s hands. Now what does that mean? To me it means the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. And when the prophet’s hands are on the bow, it’s different. And the significant thing is that the hands of the prophet only rested there a very brief while. And I want to suggest to you that there are times when the Spirit of God rests on us in prayer, we can get anything we determine at that time. But if we wait, we’re just back where we started. There’s just nothing going to happen. How important it is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Now Elisha said, “Open the window eastward,” which was the direction of Syria. And the king opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and the king shot an arrow through the open window. And Elisha said:
“The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou hadst consumed it ...” (KJV)
Notice, until you finish them off. And then Elisha said, “Take the arrows, the remaining arrows.” And the king took them. And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Smite upon the ground with the arrows.” And he smote three times and stopped.
“And the man of God was angry with him and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice [three times].” (KJV)
Once for every time he struck with the arrow. What does that tell us? It tells me that military victory is dependent upon spiritual forces. It tells me that if you win the victory in the spiritual realm, it will be worked out in the military, political, social or economic realm. The realm that decides it is the spiritual realm. And Joash partly failed God because he wasn’t sufficiently determined. He stopped too soon. And so though he did defeat Syria three times, he didn’t really finish them off. Read the last verse of the chapter, verse 25:
“And Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael [king of Syria] the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.” (KJV)
Once for every time he beat with the arrow. All right. What’s the picture? The picture is Spirit- inspired, Spirit-empowered, directed, aggressive prayer. Open the window in the direction of the enemy. Wait till the prophet’s hands are on your hand, then shoot the arrow. And then, follow it up. Back at home, make sure that the victory is decisive. I think that’s so vivid that I don’t need to explain it. I think we can all do our own explaining and applying.
Now let me give you, in the last few moments, three examples from my own experience of what I would call Spirit-given, directed, specific, persistent prayers. If you haven’t read my book Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting I would like to say that you’ll find other examples there and it’s more fully dealt with.
The first one is given in my book. I’m only going to deal with it briefly. In l941–42 I was a soldier with the British forces in North Africa. And I took part in the longest retreat in the history of the British Army, which is not a very brilliant distinction, but we retreated 750 miles continuously from a place called ?El Agela? in Tripolitania to 50 miles west of the city of Cairo called El Alamein. Now retreating continuously like that and really not knowing why and never knowing what was going on or what was going to happen next can be very demoralizing. And I felt, myself, that one of our major problems was that the officers did not have the confidence of the men. And I felt they didn’t earn the confidence of the men. I won’t go into all the details but they were selfish and undisciplined.
For instance, just to give one example, water was the scarcest commodity in the desert at that time and the average soldier was given one military water bottle full of water to use for all his needs for two days. That’s drinking, washing, cooking, et cetera. We used to wash our shirts in high octane gasoline, it was easier to obtain than water. It’s a strange situation. But during this time in the officer’s mess, the officers used to mix with their whiskey more water than the men used for all other purposes. Well, you know, that doesn’t produce the right impression.
I was just newly saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was uncorrupted by a lot of church going. I just had the Lord and the Bible, and nobody to tell me that these things are out of date or they couldn’t happen or anything like that. Praise God! So, I thought to myself, “I ought to pray.” And then I thought “Well, how can I pray for such unworthy leadership? How can I ask God to bless it?” And I thought, “I can’t.” So I thought, “Well, God will have to show me how to pray.” Furthermore, the Lord showed me, without my going to church, that fasting was a normal part of Christian discipline. And all during those two years in the desert, in active military service, I fasted every Wednesday of every week. So I was praying and fasting, and praying this specific prayer: “Give us leaders such that it will be for Your glory to give us victory through them.” Only after the war ended did I learn the full story of what happened. But at that point the British government decided to remove the military commander in the Middle East, replace him with another commander. They chose a man who was serving out in the desert, a brigadier, flew him back to Cairo to take command, his plane crashed on landing, he was thrown out, broke his neck and was killed. So at this critical moment in the most active period of the war, the British forces were left without a commander.
At that point Winston Churchill, who was then Prime Minister of Britain, made more or less a decision on his own, chose a little-known commander in Britain, and had him flown out to take command. His name was Vernon Montgomery. We did not know anything about him at that time but I would say now, on the basis of personal experience and knowledge, that Montgomery was a key, committed, witnessing Christian, a man of integrity and a very strong disciplinarian. Montgomery arrived and he turned those officers upside down. In two months he had totally changed the discipline and the morale of the forces. And then was fought the battle at El Alamein the famous battle, which was the first major Allied victory in the entire war, and changed the whole course of the war in Africa.
About two days after the battle I was in the desert beside a three-ton truck and on the tailboard of the truck there was a little portable radio. And a news commentator was describing the scene at Montgomery’s headquarters the night before the battle at El Alamein was joined. And he described how Montgomery came out, called all his officers and men together, and said, “Let us ask the Lord, mighty in battle, to give us the victory.” And when I heard those words, if you can understand me, heaven’s electricity went through me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. And the Lord said to me, very quietly, “That is the answer to your prayer.” So I learned right at the beginning of my spiritual experience that you can change history by praying. But the lesson I want to emphasize is God has got to give you the prayer. And when you take the spear, hold it out. Keep it held out. Don’t draw it back.
I’ll give you two other examples and I’ll close. In the l950s I was serving as a pastor in London, England. It just occurred to me the combination of the two largest nations and the two strongest communist world powers, Russia and China, completely united like a monolithic block, could not but be a hindrance to the progress of the gospel in the world. And I’m not specifically politically minded, nor am I a rabid anti- communist. So I felt well, I better pray. Now it might seem to you ridiculous for one person to pray about a thing that probably affected nearly a billion and a half people. And again I felt, Lord, if I’m to pray, give me the prayer. And this time I felt God gave me a prayer out of the psalms, a prayer of David. In Psalm 55:9, and it says without going into the background:
“Destroy O Lord, and divide their tongues ...” (KJV)
And I saw that if God divides people’s tongues and turns them against one another, their power is reduced. And so I don’t know, for maybe two or three years, almost every day, I would say certainly every week, I just said that one simple prayer about Russia and China. Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues. And what did God do? He did it. Today, they’re probably more afraid of and more prone to be at war with one another than with any other power. And on the border between Russia and China, Russia keeps one million highly armed men and China keeps two million highly armed men. So that no matter what threat they might be in other parts of the world, essentially a great deal of their power to do harm is negated by their relationship with one another. Now I’ll mention the third one which many of you have heard me say, I think. When I came to the United States in l963 I came as a visitor, intending to stay six months. But things happened that I didn’t plan, I ended up as an immigrant, and in l970 I became a citizen. In fact, I’ve lived here ever since l963. I’m happy to be here. I’m grateful to the United States. I’ve received many benefits from this nation. I’ve been appreciated in this nation in a way I was never appreciated in my own country. That can be interpreted as scriptural. But anyhow, it’s a fact and I am grateful for it. But it was a strange thing, it seemed as though the Lord began to hold me responsible for the government of the United States. And I really in a way resisted it. I said well, I’m not even a citizen, I’m just here for a short while, why me? But God had begun to show me that Christians are responsible primarily to pray for their government. This is the first specific prayer responsibility of Christians. So I began to pray and again I felt the Lord needed to give me the specific prayer that would represent his will. The spear that I could thrust out. Now this has been recorded on tape years back, I believe six years ago I would think or more. So it’s not something I just thought up. The prayer I felt the Lord gave me was very simple. Raise up the righteous and put down the wicked. And I knew that that had a scriptural basis. Psalm 75:6–7, it says:
“For promotion cometh neither by the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (KJV)
The same in Daniel 2:20–22. The Lord exalts kings, the Lord puts kings down. He has wisdom and might. It’s a good thing he does. So I prayed that prayer and gradually I began to share it with friends, and I remember sharing it with a Catholic Charismatic brother who’s a close friend of mine and went on praying it. Then I met this brother at the height of the Watergate crisis. And he looked me in the eyes and said, Brother Derek, I hold you personally responsible for what’s going on in Washington. And I said I gladly accept the responsibility.
Brother Larry Tomczak quoted in the first message a similar type of Scripture that you can use. We’ll look at it for a moment. Proverbs 10:9:
“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.” (KJV)
There’s a Scripture to use to root out perversion and corruption in the government. And God is doing that. More and more cases of corruption; financial, moral corruption are being laid bare in our government. That’s not a disaster, it’s an answer to prayer. God is working to purge the government of this nation.
All right. I’ll offer you in closing one suggested prayer that God might give us the faith to pray concerning communism, world communism, which now dominates about two-thirds of the earth’s surface. It’s in Job 38. Now I’m not claiming that exactly at the moment I have faith to pray this prayer, but I’m just wondering if it’s what the Lord wants to give us faith for. Job 38:8:
“Who shut up the sea with doors, when it break forth, as if it has issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed [or stopped]?” (KJV)
See, the Lord set a boundary to the sea. No matter how it rages and roars it just can’t go beyond God’s boundary. And the thought occurred to me that God can set a boundary to atheistic communists and say, hitherto shall thou come, but no further. And here shall thy proud waves be stayed. Now I’ll leave that with you. If the Lord quickens it to you, maybe you can be the one that will pray that prayer and God will honor the prayer he gives.
Okay. We have to stop. Time has slipped away. God bless you, it’s been good to be with you.