Intercessory Prayer in Spiritual Warfare, Part I

In the Same Way. . .

In the last article in this Blog titled “Spiritual Weapons, Part IX,” the importance of intercessory prayer and its connections with spiritual warfare was discussed and illustrated.  In this article, we will continue to see how this aspect of Spiritual Warfare worked powerfully in both the life of Daniel and in the ministry of Jesus.

You will recall, I hope, the following passage:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  . . .Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  (Romans 8:26-27, 34)

We saw that the “groanings” of the Holy Spirit in us are one form that prayers of intercession may take, particularly when we don’t know how to pray.  Remarkably, two accounts from both the Old and the New Testaments provide insights into how this type of prayer works.

The Story of Daniel

We read in the 10th Chapter in Daniel that the prophet is deep in prayer for three weeks, fasting and praying prayers of repentance on behalf of Israel, when he sees a vision:

I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. (vs. 5-6)

Daniel is so overwhelmed by this vision that he falls to the ground:

So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. (10: 8-9)

The angelic messenger raises Daniel up and speaks to him:

 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” (10:12-14)

This passage  provides a remarkable perspective on the spiritual realm, particularly concerning the spiritual warfare we have been learning about.  It’s clear that Daniel’s prayers of intercession for Israel have an instant effect, even though he doesn’t see the immediate result.  So often we seek instant results because of our physical limitations in the realm of the flesh.  

However, Gabriel, the angel, had immediately set out to come to Daniel, but he was prevented by one of the “rulers of darkness” in charge of Persia.  It wasn’t until Michael the Archangel came to help in the battle that the evil spirit was overcome and Gabriel was able to come in response to Daniel’s prayers.

One wonders what might have happened had Daniel given up and quit praying after only a few days!  Plus, the next battle the angel says he must fight is with the “prince of Greece,” an indication of the next earthly dynasty to come.  See the angel’s prediction in this passage:

Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince. (vs. 20-21)

This narrative from the Book of Daniel is especially enlightening in connection with the engagements we may experience in spiritual warfare.  It’s comforting to know that not only are we given the spiritual weapons we need,  and we can pray even when we do not know how to pray, but also that the angelic powers of God are fighting on our behalf as well.

Of course, this story took place before the victory of Jesus Christ over the principalities and powers of darkness and the rulers of wickedness in high places.  Jesus said, “I watched Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.”  And he gave us the command to enforce His victory by using the authority given to us by Christ Himself, who told us to spread His Gospel to the whole earth in His name.

In our next article, we will consider similar evidences of intercessory prayer, particularly prayer that is similar to Paul’s “groanings in the spirit,” in the ministry of Jesus.

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