Spiritual Warfare and Mission
When I first became a missionary, I had no concept of spiritual warfare. My associates and I had a deep passion for the lost and longed to share Christ with them, but we were naive about the demonic activity we would face and how to respond.
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By Barbara Hitching
One night during my year in Nepal, hearing noises outside, my friend Marigold and I went out on the balcony to investigate. Below, two shamans with frightening masks, danced and shouted chants. We were terrified and crept inside to hide in the bedroom. We hid, unaware we needed to turn to prayer to find safety in Jesus and to reject the curses being spoken against us. It was my first experience with a spiritual assault of this nature.
Not all spiritual warfare is so blatant. I recall a situation when spiritual warfare shook our team from within. I was living in the Middle East with a wonderful group of young people. A personality conflict arose between two of them. In their anger, they began to see each other as the enemy, unaware they were under spiritual attack. They lacked the experience and discernment necessary to recognize the enemy was at work. Rather than talking and praying together, it escalated into a fist fight.
Walk in Wisdom
I have seen homes broken, lives shipwrecked, children lost into the world, illness, untimely death, and personality conflicts undermine God’s work. No one on the field is immune. And neither are we, here on the home front.
You may not face curses from shamans or get into fist fights with coworkers, but you will still face spiritual warfare in your life. It’s important to be equipped to discern and to stand against spiritual warfare.
When an army goes to war, they need to know and understand their enemy to discern tactics and strategies. The same is true for believers. This will help protect you from exposure to unnecessary dangers or fighting each other instead of the real enemy.
We All Fight the Same Battles
Whether you are a missionary or not, you can pray for those on the front lines. In fact, your prayers may become a lifeline for your missionary, their family, and their team.
Missionaries go through the same struggles we do. It’s just in a different environment and often is more intense. They are frequently alone or even isolated from other believers. Our prayers are vital as the enemy often assaults their spiritual and emotional well-being.
Stand Strong in God’s Strength
As you begin to engage in spiritual warfare, remember this: if you come against the enemy in your own strength or wisdom, you will fall. It’s true, you can accomplish much in your own strength, but you will be powerless against your enemy. In fact, relying on your own wisdom can actually strengthen the strongholds of the enemy.
My dear friend, only what is done by faith and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit will stand the test of time.
Peter would tell you, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Paul would also encourage you to be present in the moment. “Cast down every proud thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
As you face spiritual attacks, practice faith, stay alert and present in the moment, and remember your thought life is also important. The battle is most often won or lost in the area of the mind. You have been given the mind of Christ; repentance, prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and memorization of Scripture help to strengthen your inner man so your thought life glorifies the Lord. This helps equip you for battle.
Three Strategies of the Enemy
To be further equipped for battle, be aware of the strategies of the enemy. These are three key strategies the enemy uses:
- The enemy is expert at camouflage. He loves to distract and cause confusion as he seeks to steal the missionaries’ time, energy and resources.
- The enemy wants to conquer you; like Peter, he will sift you trying to shake your faith and cause you to fall. (Luke 22:31)
- The enemy wants you to think people are the enemy. But Paul said, our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood; it is against the ruler and authorities of the unseen world; against the cosmic powers of the darkness, and against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)
Three Strategies for Prayer:
Just as the enemy has a strategy, you need a strategy to stand strong! Learn how to pray for missionaries by being aware of what you personally need prayer for.
Learn to see.
- Pray in Jesus’ name for your missionaries to be protected from the assaults of the evil one, that they be able to quickly discern any tactics operating against them.
- Pray they think with clarity and have spiritual wisdom to move instantly into prayer.
- Pray the Holy Spirit will expose any deception and enable them to walk in truth and love.
- Pray your missionaries be set free from accusations that rob them of freedom in Jesus.
- Pray strongholds be broken down in the name of Jesus.
Learn to stand.
- Pray the Lord helps you to daily take up the whole armor of God so you are able to withstand the enemy.
- Pray for your missionaries to be fully covered with God’s armor so no matter what evil comes against them, they remain standing in integrity. (Ephesians 6:13)
Learn to forgive.
- Pray you are quick to forgive those who sin against you.
- Pray your missionaries are quick to forgive themselves and others.
- Pride is subtle and deadly. Pray they do not take up offenses against each other but walk in humility and love.
Five Bonus Strategies to Become More Effective in Prayer
As you stand against the strategies of the enemy, here are five tips to help you become more effective in prayer:
- Put on the armor of God so we aren’t deceived by the devil.
- Give the Holy Spirit permission to show us any lies we believe, then give us courage to reject the lie and embrace the truth.
- Take time to meditate and be with the Lord. As you learn to rest in the Lord’s presence, He covers and equips you for battle.
- Learn to stand in the power of the Lord’s might and pray Scriptures so you remain in godly authority.
- As you are faithful, you have power to intercede for the missionaries to be protected from deception and to stand in wisdom and faithfulness
We have a wonderful promise
The Apostle John encourages us in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
In closing, may you be quick to remember our victory is in Jesus. As you pray for your missionaries, may you stand in the wonderful truth – you overcome by the precious blood of the Lamb and by the spoken word of your testimony. God bless you!
Barbara Hitching has over 35 years of mentoring experience and finds joy in helping trauma survivors find dignity and restored hope. She was a volunteer rape victim advocate for 5 years and spent 25 years as a missionary. She currently lives in Florida where she is a spiritual mentor, Bible teacher, and blogger. She delights in finding things to give thanks for as she gardens or walks through God’s creation.
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