Lying in bed, you hear the sound, that high pitched whine, announcing the presence of a mosquito in the room. A tiny little insect, but it’s buzz can keep you awake wondering, if and when it will land and attack! Frequently, that high pitched whine means that the lights go on and there is no peace until the little pest is found and disposed of. How can something so small cause so much trouble?
The image of a mosquito is helpful for us when we think about our adversary, the devil. It is easy to think of the devil al all powerful leading us to be scared and fearful. There is a danger that we can think of God and the devil as equally opposing powers. In fact, this is what the enemy would like us to believe. The reality is that God, the creator of all things, is far more powerful. As the kid’s song reminds us. “Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there is nothing our God cannot do!” In contrast, Satan is like a little mosquito, buzzing around, they are a pain for sure but not all powerful. Nevertheless, we do need to be aware of mosquitos. They can carry malaria or West Nile virus and can make us very sick.
We have an enemy who is out to cause us harm. But in comparison to God he is like a tiny mosquito. Satan is a created being, he has limitations. His is not all powerful and is forced to work within the limits and confines of a created being. He lacks originality, his plans and schemes utilize the same tactics again and again. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that “we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11) but he also warns us not to be outwitted. We cannot underestimate this adversary, we need to be on guard because he will use the same tactic again and again against us. But if we know his schemes, then it becomes far easier to recognize and avoid the traps which he sets for us. We can hear the high pitched whine and be on alert ready to squish Satan’s schemes.
Satan has to use the principles which God Almighty has established. For example, God has chosen to limit himself and work through the prayers of his people. Why would God limit himself to being reliant upon our prayers in order to move his will forward? This is a mystery of God, which we shall only fully understand in glory. But I wonder if part of the answer is that by limiting himself he has also limited the devil, who has to operate along the same spiritual principles. So Satan needs to work with and through humans (who he hates) in order to accomplish his evil plans. He cannot just do what he wants, he must manipulate humans into moving his plans forward. The brokenness and depravity of humanity’s fallen condition makes this a fertile field to work within. But it is still limiting and God is able to work powerfully.
We have an enemy who is out to get us. But when compared to God, our Heavenly Father, he is merely a whining mosquito. He is still dangerous, but we are not unaware of what his plans are. As we draw near to God, in prayer, and resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:7).
James Houston describes prayer as “rather like joining an underground resistance movement in an enemy-occupied country. We fight back in prayer to overthrow the kingdom of darkness with the light of the gospel.” We sometimes forget the true power that prayer has. Prayer can quickly get absorbed into the everyday part of our lives, the quick prayer before a meal or before climbing into bed at night and that is important for us to do. But it can also lend itself to us taking prayer for granted and to miss the potential power that is present in prayer.
When Paul tells the church in Corinth, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4), one of the weapons he was talking about is prayer! If you have ever watched a building being demolished by a controlled explosion, you know that the explosive charged are strategically placed and only after sufficient warning is given does the person hit the button or press down the plunger causing the explosion and the demolition of the building. We do not hear sirens blasting and a warning announcement saying “clear the area and watch out, we are about to pray!” But perhaps we should!
It can be helpful to think of prayer like a stick of dynamite. It’s not something that should be treated lightly because of the powerful explosion it can produce. We get the word dynamite from the Greek word dunamis, which means “the power to do something.” Prayer is the power to do something. Prayer has the power to change hearts, transform lives, demolish strongholds and push back the kingdom of darkness.
After the believers prayed together in Acts 4 we read that “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
Acts 1:14 shows the believers were constantly in prayer. It was out of that time of continual prayer that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.
It was the work of prayer which caused the collapse of the Berlin wall. It was the prayer of the nation during World War II which led to the miracles of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain.
It is important to remember that our prayers are powerful weapons. It is why after Paul had instructed the believers in Ephesus to put on the full armour he instructs them to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18).
So let’s join the resistance movement and learn how to use the power of prayer effectively and demolish the strongholds of the enemy