Prayer is generally defined as speaking to God in heaven above—the Almighty God who has all authority in heaven and on earth. We pray to God because we do not have the authority to do what we want, and therefore beseech Him to help us through prayer.
God has all authority, and we do not. Therefore we lift up to Him supplications, prayers, petitions, intercessions, and the like.
In light of this, what does “warfare prayer” mean? It would seem to mean that we war against God in prayer. That of course would appear to be nonsense.
Our war is not against God, but against Satan and his kingdom. Therefore toward God we should pray in all humility and complete surrender, and against the enemy kingdom we should conduct war with overwhelming power and authority.
Sadly the New Testament Church has confused the two by mixing them together in the very same breath. “Warfare prayer” is not found in the New Testament. Consequently such “prayer” is generally ineffective in terms of advancing the gospel. There is little hard evidence that it actually works.
Prayer lifted up to God is quite self-evident in meaning.
Warfare, on the other hand, is activity directed against the enemy kingdom on earth. How exactly did Jesus command us to conduct this warfare on behalf of the gospel?
Matthew 10:7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
We are to conduct warfare against the enemy kingdom by:
- Proclaiming the kingdom of heaven
- Healing the sick
- Raising the dead
- Cleansing the lepers
- And driving out demons.
The parallel verse in the synoptic Gospel of Luke is found in Chapter 9, verse 10.
Luke 10:9 “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘the kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
Our warfare against the kingdom of darkness should consist primarily of healing the sick, casting out demons, and then preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God to the lost.
To conduct this warfare successfully and fruitfully, Jesus gave to his disciples supernatural power and authority over infirmities and demons—that is, power and authority actually to heal the sick and cast out demons.
Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
(Jesus never taught his disciples to pray to God for the sick, and after that to leave the results up on Him.)
This is the spiritual warfare that Jesus Christ commanded his disciples to do with regard to the gospel. The warfare on earth consisted of proclaiming the message of the gospel to the lost, healing the sick and casting out demons from people—all ground level activities. It is completely separate and distinct from prayer which is directed up to God above in heaven.
Therefore “prayer warfare” is oxymoronic and not scriptural. Moreover, there is little empirical evidence to suggest that it is effective in saving the lost and in fulfilling the Great Commission.
But when disciples are trained to use the Lord’s supernatural power and authority effectively according to Scripture, the sick are miraculously healed in Jesus’ name. Seeing such irrefutable evidence, the lost are then drawn to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is true “warfare.” In The Elijah Challenge there is abundant proof that such warfare is effective and fruitful—the great harvests of souls being reaped during these Last Days.
Note: “Wrestling with God” (Colossians 4:12) does not mean that we are struggling against Almighty God who engages us in combat and whose design is to defeat us. It means rather that trusting God, we persist in fervent prayer that He might grant us what we ask.