Part 1: Praying For The Government
The Bible says: First of all in Christian activity—pray. The first topic for prayer is all those in authority. What are we to pray for? That we may lead a godly, quiet and peaceable life. Why are we to pray this way? Because that helps to propagate the gospel. Is that not logical? Have I convinced you? To me this is plain, simple common sense. It is not a remote mystery.
Thank God, the mysteries have been dispelled by the light of God’s Word! It is plain, it is practical, it is simple, it is down-to-earth, it works. I believe that it is the will of God for us to have a good government. Let us not talk about other countries or nations. Let us concentrate on this one. Good government for New Zealand is the will of God.
What does the Bible say will happen if we pray for things according to God’s will? First John 5:14–15 tells us:
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
In other words, if you know that you are praying according to the will of God, then you know that God hears you; and if you know that God hears you, you know you have the petition that you presented. If it is the will of God for this nation to have good government, and if we pray for good government knowing it is the will of God, we know that God hears us; and if we know that God hears us, we know we have the petition that we desired. If we do not have good government, what is the reason? God’s people have not met His conditions and prayed.
Generally speaking, you can say that Christians get the kind of government they deserve. There is a time lag. It does not happen instantly. But by and large, Christians are responsible for the government they live under. If you would take less time to criticize and more time to pray, you would have less to criticize.
There is a very definite, scriptural reason why this is so. Why are God’s people responsible? Because we are the only people who have the means to accomplish the results.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Paul says, “We wrestle.” Some Christians punctuate this verse wrong. They read, “We wrestle not”—period! That is not what Paul says. Paul says, “We wrestle—but not against flesh and blood.” Paul was taking his metaphor from the ancient Olympic games. Historians agree that of the various contests in the Olympic games, wrestling made the greatest demands upon the participants.
Our Christian experience may best be compared to a wrestling match. In wrestling, no holds are barred. Every part of your being is involved. This is the Christian life. We are in a wrestling match, but not against flesh and blood. Paul says that we are not fighting human beings.
What are we fighting against?
- “Principalities”—unseen kingdoms.
- “Powers”—the realms of authority occupied by these unseen kingdoms.
- “The rulers of the darkness of this age”—more literally, “the world rulers of the present darkness.”
- “Spiritual wickedness”—more literally, “spirits of wickedness.”
Where is the contest taking place? “In high places, ”or more literally, “in heavenly places.” This is a revelation of the Word of God that every Christian should know. There is an organized kingdom set up in opposition to God and to all God’s purposes. It is the kingdom of Satan. Jesus said that Satan has a kingdom. Furthermore, he said that Satan is in complete control of it. It is not divided and it is in total opposition to God.
This kingdom is set up in an area called “the heavenly places.” The majority of Bible commentators would agree that this is not “the third heaven” which is God’s dwelling place, and it is not the first heaven, which is the visible heaven, but it is the second or intermediate heaven. There is an unseen kingdom that is above the level of this world, and it is the kingdom of darkness. It is a kingdom in total opposition and in complete unrelenting hatred towards God, all God’s purposes, and all God’s people. This includes you and me. The devil hates you with all that is in him. He will do everything he can to harm you and to destroy you. He comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. He is an extremely powerful person.
It is our business as Christians to bring this kingdom down. It cannot be done by presidents or generals, because they do not have the weapons. If it were a question of fighting against flesh and blood, we would turn loose the tanks and armored cars and the airplanes. But tanks and armored cars and airplanes are totally ineffective, because it is not against flesh and blood.
Many of the political leaders are coming to the same conclusion. They may not use the language but the implication is there. It is clear to me that almost all the political leaders in this country acknowledge that they are facing problems for which they do not have the answer. That is exactly what the Bible says.
It is not against flesh and blood. You can kill nazis, but you cannot kill nazism. You can kill endless numbers of men, but you do not deal with the spiritual forces behind them. Merely killing men is not going to solve the problem. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3–5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh”—our warfare is not in the fleshly realm, it is not in the carnal realm, it is not against flesh and blood. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal”—they are not bombs, guns, or tanks, but they are “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” This refers to Satan’s strongholds.
Note where the strongholds are! “...Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The alternative reading for “arguments” is “reasonings.” The warfare is in the realm of the mind: reasonings, imaginations, thoughts and knowledge. You cannot change a man’s attitude by executing him. He will go out with the same attitudes.
During the Mau Mau emergency in East Africa, the British authorities executed some of the Mau Mau leaders by hanging. I know a missionary who was there when they were executed. He said that they went to the gallows repeating, “I’ll come back, I’ll come back.” It was not the man who was speaking. It was the demon in the man. You can kill a man’s body, but the demon within the man will come back.
We are not wrestling against flesh and blood. We are on a different plane; we have different enemies, we have different weapons. But the weapons which God has given us are mighty! They are invincible, if we will use them. If we are defeated, it is not through a lack of armor. It is through the failure to use it.
Old Testament Examples
I want to go into the Old Testament to give you two examples that draw back the veil of the unseen spiritual realm that dominates and controls human affairs. I believe spiritual factors are absolutely decisive in world affairs, in national affairs and in personal affairs. We have to acknowledge the truth of historical events, the impact of social and economic factors. They are real factors, but the dominating, controlling, decisive element behind all of them is the spiritual. That is why the church is the decisive factor in world affairs, because the church is the only agent that can enter into this realm and operate there. It is perfectly logical.
The 28th chapter of Ezekiel contains a most remarkable unfolding of this double kingdom: the seen kingdom with the natural human ruler, and the unseen kingdom with the satanic ruler. In the first nineteen verses of this chapter we have a lamentation, or a bitter reproach, against two persons. One is called “the prince of Tyrus,” the other is called “the king of Tyrus.” The prince of Tyrus is a human being. He claims to be God, but in fact he is a man, and as a man he has to die. But the king of Tyrus neither is, nor was, nor ever could be a human being. Study the very clear identifying marks that are given in verses 12 through 18, and there is only one conclusion: this king of Tyrus is none other than Satan himself. Behind the visible kingdom of Tyrus with its prince, there is the invisible kingdom of Tyrus with its king, the world ruler of darkness, who is Satan. The course of affairs in the visible kingdom is determined by the affairs of the invisible kingdom. It is the invisible which is decisive.
I believe that behind every kingdom, every nation, every great city, there is an invisible rulership. There is a rulership over the state of Florida, there is also an invisible spiritual power controlling Miami. I have traveled widely and I have noticed that when you go to certain cities you can feel the presence of spiritual powers. They are not always the same. I was in Berlina couple of years ago and the atmosphere was impregnated with sexual impurity and lust. Other cities have different influences. In Chicago the prevailing spirit is one of violence. In New Orleans it is witch craft. If you are sensitive, you can feel the unseen powers that dominate and control. There is never a breakthrough in the kingdom of God until these spiritual powers have been brought into subjection by prayer. When that happens, the avalanche of revival will flood a nation or a kingdom or a city. The great barrier to a real move of God is in the unseen realm.
It was vividly illustrated some years ago in Argentina. A missionary by the name of Miller went to Argentina with all sorts of plans for carrying out God’s work. But God shut him up in a little mud church for more than a month and all he had to do was pray. He prayed until the spiritual powers controlling Argentina were brought into subjection. In that very strongly Roman Catholic country God miraculously opened the way for the largest stadium in the whole country to be taken over by a little insignificant American preacher whom nobody knew. At the end of a month 200,000 people were gathering daily to listen to his message. This is one of the most remarkable moves of God recorded in church history and was the result of binding the unseen forces.
Another Old Testament example of spiritual powers is found in the tenth chapter of Daniel. Daniel set himself to pray for twenty-one days with special earnestness for divine intervention on behalf of his people. At the end of this period an angel came with a revelation that was the answer to his prayers. The angel told Daniel:
“From the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I come because of your words.”
Daniel prayed for twenty-one days, yet his prayer was heard the first day. Why did he have to wait twenty one days for the answer? In verse 13 the angel went onto give the reason:
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me....”
This “prince of the kingdom of Persia” was not a human being. These events did not take place on the human plane. It was an angel who brought the message, and it was an angel who opposed the angelic messenger. Another angel, Michael, came to the assistance of the first angel. This was a spiritual warfare of angels in the heavenlies.
Notice, it was what happened on earth that decided the course of events in heaven. This is a tremendous truth. Nothing happened until Daniel started to pray. It was Daniel’s prayers that got the angel through, not the angel that got Daniel through. Daniel got the angel through! If only God’s people would see that the issues are settled by us. They are not even settled by the angels.
Revelation 12:11 tells us: “They”—God’s people on earth—“overcame him”—Satan—“by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” We are the decisive factor in the affairs of the universe. I am not exaggerating one bit. If Daniel had not prayed, things would never have happened in heaven. He had to pray for twenty-one days to get the answer. What delayed the answer? This was not because Daniel did not pray according to the will of God. There was nothing wrong with his prayer. Satan, in the person of the prince of the kingdom of Persia, was the reason for the delay.
Many times you do not get your prayer answered, not because you are praying wrong, but simply because you have to pray that wicked old prince out of the way. If you are not prepared to do it, you will not get the answer to your prayer. You have to pray through. You have to challenge Satan. Most people are afraid to do this. If you get into this realm, you will face problems and temptations that do not come the way of the average Christian. Unseen forces will be directed against any person who sets himself to praying intelligently for those in authority. If you do not have any guts and gumption, do not even begin. My language may seem unrefined, but I mean it.
In verse 20, after the revelation had been granted, the angel said:
“Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.”
None of these are human beings. They are the satanic rulers behind the early kingdoms. These kingdoms are significant because they were the ones that successively dominated the Holy Land. First Babylon, then Persia, then Greece, then Rome. Behind every one was a major satanic prince. The issue of events was decided not in the heavenly realm but on the earth below, by the prayer of one man, Daniel.
God said in Ezekiel 22:30–31:
“I sought for a man among them who would make a wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore have I poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath...”
“If I could have found one man in all the nation,” God said, “I could have spared them.” Think of it! One man could have turned the tide for a whole nation. Yet there was not even one man willing to do it.
God is looking for a man! And when I say a man, I mean a man. It is about time that Christian men started acting like men. Leadership was never intended to be in the hands of ladies. I do not say this to criticize the ladies, because it is the men’s fault. I am firmly convinced that American men have abdicated from their three main responsibilities—as husbands, fathers and spiritual leaders. God is looking for a man, one man to stand in the breach and make up a wall. If He cannot find one, things will go the way of Israel under the old covenant. The issue is up to you! If you cannot see it, may God open your eyes. And if you do not acknowledge your personal responsibility, may God grant you to repent.