II. PRAYER AND GOD’S ENEMY
Prayer is categorically related to God’s enemy. God’s authority is under attack in the universe because of the existence of God’s enemy. In the Bible, the kingdom of God is of great significance. The enemy of God is also a very crucial issue in the Scripture. God’s authority suffers frustration and limitation in the universe because there is a rebellious Satan in the universe.
There is a very great conflict in the universe between God and His enemy Satan. You may say that the Bible is a book of life, and you may also say that the Bible is a book of warfare. There is a line in the Scripture which is the line of warfare. Satan firstly rose to revolt and to rebel. Then God came out to deal with him, and the universal warfare began. Today’s worldly statesmen and military experts are searching for ways to eliminate war and promote peace. They do not understand that the happenings on the earth are entirely tied to the warfare between God and Satan. When will peace come to the human race? That will have to wait until the day when God’s enemy shall be bound and cast into the bottomless pit. Then in the whole universe there will be no more war between God and Satan, and likewise, wars among the human race will cease. Human warfare stems entirely from the universal warfare between God and the Devil. When the universal warfare is settled there will be no more wars among men. Hence, we should utter prayers of warfare, on one hand, to bring in God’s kingdom and, on the other hand, to drive out God’s enemy. Prayer indicates that man is standing on God’s side and that man is opposed to God’s enemy.
There are three main figures in the universe: God, Satan, and man. Never belittle man. God has never belittled man. God, Satan, and man may be considered the three big heads in the universe. Satan’s intention is to overthrow God’s authority. God’s desire is to do away with the rebellious Satan. However, God does not wish to deal with Satan directly, and Satan has no way to destroy God’s authority by his own strength. God needs to work through man to deal with Satan, and Satan also needs to work through man to frustrate God. The solution to the problems existing between God and the Devil are tied to man. Man is the critical figure in the universe. If man stands on God’s side, God predominates. If man stands on Satan’s side, then Satan prevails.
There is a line of truth in the Bible which is concerned with the conflict between God and Satan. This line necessarily includes God and Satan’s struggle to gain man. God wants to have man, and Satan also wants to gain man. God wants man to cooperate with Him; Satan also wants man to cooperate with him. God wants to enter into man; Satan also wants to get into man. God wants to be mingled with man; Satan also wants to be mixed with man. In this context, what is prayer? On the one hand, prayer is man expressing to God that he wants God and that he is standing on God’s side. On the other hand, it is man telling Satan that he is standing with God to oppose Satan. Hence, the purpose of prayer is to bring in God’s kingdom and to drive Satan away.
Our ordinary concept in praying for sinners is to pray that their soul would be saved. But the fact is, true prayers for men’s souls are to deal with Satan and to bring in God’s kingdom. When a person does not believe in the Lord Jesus, it is not just a matter of his soul going to hell. Even more, it is a matter of Satan’s ruling over him. His going to hell is a matter bound up with the great matter of Satan’s ruling over him. So, I need to pray for him in order to chase Satan away from him, to deliver him from the power of darkness, and to bring God’s kingdom to him. True prayers will always, on the one hand, bring God’s kingdom to man and, on the other hand, drive away Satan’s power from man. Every time a sinner gets saved it signifies a partial defeat of Satan’s power and a partial coming of God’s kingdom. This is the prayer of warfare.
In the Bible it is a very great principle that God Himself does not deal with Satan directly. Rather, He uses man. Some may say: “Isn’t God dealing with Satan through His Son? The Scripture says, ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil’” (1 John 3:8). Yes, this is true. But the Son of God came to deal with Satan in the human flesh. He came as a man standing on man’s position and put on man to deal with Satan. To deal with His enemy, God needs to use man. If man does not cooperate with Him, He cannot do anything. Likewise, to bring salvation to man, God also needs man to pray. Without man praying for the souls of sinners, God can never save men. The salvation of any person is the result of someone praying for him. God has no way to save men directly. God’s salvation is indirect; it needs to go through man. Here we see how crucial man’s position is. Man’s prayer indicates whether he is standing on God’s side or on Satan’s. Once you bow your knees before God, you indicate that in the universal conflict you are standing on God’s side, and you are totally opposed to God’s enemy. Your prayer is, positively, bringing in God’s kingdom and, negatively, overthrowing God’s enemy.
Every genuine prayer is a prayer of casting out the demons. Suppose a certain brother’s home has no peace. The husband and wife quarrel. If you really know what prayer is, you will be able to utter fighting prayers for them and cast out the quarreling demon from their home. I really mean it. The husband and wife quarrel because Satan has gained a position between them. When you pray for them, on the one hand, you are bringing in God’s kingdom and, on the other hand, driving away God’s enemy. Then between them there will be God’s authority but no power of Satan. This is true prayer.
This is also true concerning prayer for the church. Disagreements and contentions are in the church because Satan has gained a place. So we pray for the church in order to bring in God’s kingdom and drive out Satan’s power. All genuine prayers are of a two-fold purpose: on the positive side, to bring in God’s kingdom, and on the negative side, to cast out Satan’s power. This kind of prayer effects God’s success as well as Satan’s defeat. The more we pray this kind of prayer, the more severe will be Satan’s defeat, and the more God’s kingdom will come.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)