Unanswered Prayer (3)
"Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way." (Daniel 10:12-13, NLT)
Let’s look today at a third category of reasons why our prayers aren’t always answered. These are to do with the devil.
From the day of his expulsion from heaven, Satan has constantly opposed God and His purposes. So when Jesus came to earth, Satan did all he could to oppose Him: trying to kill Him at birth, tempting Him to disobey his Father, stirring up a lynch mob against Him, inspiring Judas to betray Him, and provoking the authorities to execute Him. Because he opposes God and His purposes, he inevitably opposes God’s people too in every way he can, both corporately and individually. So how should we respond to his opposition, especially when we sense he is hindering our prayers?
It is at such times that the Bible calls us to engage in "spiritual warfare." While some Christians turn this into binding and loosing all sorts of demons, the Bible’s approach seems, perhaps surprisingly, to be much "down to earth." It says that spiritual warfare involves such things as: praying and fasting as Daniel did for revelation (Daniel 10:1-19); submitting to God and seeing the devil flee as we do so (James 4:7); being self-controlled and alert for the devil prowls around looking for prey to devour (1 Peter 5:8-9); recalling Christ’s victory at the cross, where Satan and all his hosts were stripped of their power (Colossians 2:13-15); changing ways of thinking which have become strongholds that need demolishing (2 Corinthians 10:3-5); putting on "the armor of God" (Ephesians 6:10-18), not as a spiritual exercise just before battle, but as a lifestyle that prepares us for such times; getting back to our first love, as the seven churches in Revelation were called to do (Revelation 2:1-3:22).
Are there any of these expressions of spiritual warfare that you sense the Holy Spirit is reminding you that you have been neglecting? They may be the very thing that are hindering your prayers!
Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. (James 4:7,CEV)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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