A reader responded to my previous post asking: Isn’t prayer a weapon against the evil one, who we are battling?
That’s a good question. We can determine the answer by studying the New Testament verses containing the word “pray.” The word is used 151 times. D.A. Carson’s book “Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation,” for example, in particular discusses the following passages: Rom 15:14-33, Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:9-14; 1 Thess 3:9-13; 2 Thess 1:3-12. The focus of prayer in the New Testament was predominately on knowing God better, being more like Christ, God providing for the needs of others, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and for success in ministry.
The word “weapon” is used only 3 times, once in the usual sense in Jn 18:3, and twice in relation to using the truth of Scripture and righteousness, to destroy arguments that are based on the lies of Satan (2 Cor 6:3-10; 10:3-5). Love is the motivating factor, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” (Eph 4:15, NAS, see also 1 Pe 3:15–16).
It is important to discern between prayer and the use of Scriptural truth to correct beliefs based on lies. For example, when Jesus confronted Satan in the wilderness He selected the perfect biblical truth to counter Satan’s lies. He was not praying. He was using “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17). He used it correctly and in context because He is truth. We are to do the same.
The concept that we are soldiers bearing the weapon of prayer to fight Satan is popular in some circles of Christianity, especially on TV, because it appeals to a deep human desire to hate and destroy an enemy in the name of God. People can get all excited about that. It sells. Unfortunately, it is the same kind of disastrous, militant recruiting appeal of ISIS. It is not the model or purpose of prayer that we find in Christ’s example or in the Apostles teaching.
I join with Paul in praying: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thess 3:12–13, NIV).