My three year old son has an adversary. She’s redheaded, immature, easily excitable, really fun, slobbery, and super annoying when she wants to play. His adversary also happens to be our golden retriever, Lois.
In typical first born fashion, my son wants to be in charge, and Lois is an easy target. “Lois, get off my toys! Lois, stop hitting me with your tail! Lois, stop barking! Lois, stop breathing on me!” The funny thing is Lois doesn’t pay attention to him at all. She just keeps doing what she’s doing as though he isn’t shouting at the top of his lungs right in her unimpressed face.
It’s not that she doesn’t understand him; I think she finds pleasure in doing the opposite of what he says. When he yells “Move!” she stares past him, just wagging her tail like she’s enjoying herself at the beach. Or if he screams, “Stay!” she suddenly has the urge to slowly mosey somewhere else with that dull, blank, drooping jowls, older dog look . . . “Yeah, right kid.”
But my son is pretty smart for his age. Now when he has his battles with the dog and she doesn’t listen, he turns his attention to me, “Dad, tell her to stop.” I can say the exact same thing as my son, and even say it with half as less force, and Lois instantly does what I say. Why? Because Lois is my dog. I had Lois trained before my son was even born. I’m her master.
Prayer Defeats the Schemes of the Enemy Because Prayer Is an Act of Submitting to God
We have an adversary too. The Bible says that our adversary is the devil (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:12). And no matter how loud we yell in our own authority, the devil doesn’t have to listen to us because we are not his master. But he does have to listen to his real Master. When God speaks, Satan must listen. And so the proper way to defeat the devil is not to shout at him but to first submit and appeal to the Master (James 4:7). Only in the authority of Jesus do we have victory over the evil one. Only when we are connected to God and have his support will we be able to outwit and outmatch the enemy.
That’s why pray is so essential in defeating the schemes of the enemy. The enemy is after our heart. The way the devil seeks to destroy us is to get us to lose faith. And the way we lose faith is by taking our eyes off of God and onto the world.
In Ephesians 6:12 we are told that we wrestle “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” We are then told to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:13-17. But then we are quickly told in Ephesians 6:18 that while we should put on the full armor of God we must also be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance . . . .” Prayer is essential in defeating the lies of Satan.
Prayer Defeats the Enemy Because Looking to Jesus Increases Our Faith
Prayer is so powerful in our defense and offense against Satan because keeping our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus is key to persevering faith, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV). The enemy wants us to look at anything other than Christ so we will lose heart and give up. God tells us to always pray so we will always be looking to Jesus, to the truth. Again, Ephesians 6:18 tells us to be “praying at all times in the Spirit” but then it also states, “To that end keep alert with perseverance. . . .” If we want to persevere in faith, it must be done through prayer.
Hebrews 12:2 in the ESV states that we are to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” If we want faith, we need to look to Jesus, for he perfects “our faith.” A lack of faith will always correspond with a lack of prayer. An abundance of faith will always correspond with an abundance of prayer. Faith and prayer are like inhaling and exhaling. You can’t have one without the other. When one stops the other stops too and the person dies. When we stop praying, Satan defeats us with lies about God and our hearts die.
Bottom Line, Prayer Is Essential for Defeating the Enemy
Faith is the fuel in the furnace of prayer. The more fuel you have, the hotter the furnace burns. The more faith you have, the hotter your prayers will burn. The more we look to Jesus, the more faith we will have.
Bottom line: Defeating the enemy is done through seeking Jesus in prayer.