Overcoming the Obstacles of Prayer (3)

Another obstacle to the believer's prayer is the enemy, Satan. Many times, our hearts faint when we see that our enemy is so powerful. It seems as if nothing and no one can oppose him. However, we must declare that he is defeated.

The defeat of the enemy was announced very early on, in the garden of Eden itself: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Gen. 3:15). Two wounds are mentioned here. The wound of the Lord Jesus was His reproach and crucifixion; but Satan's wound was his eternal defeat and destruction, by the very crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14). It was also the defeat of all other hellish powers (Col. 2:15).

In the Old Testament there are two figures or types that are clearly illustrative of Satan's defeat. In both cases, the victory of God's people awakens an overflowing joy, with songs and dances. The first is Pharaoh's defeat in the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and the second is the defeat of Goliath at the hands of David (1 Sam. 17). How can God's people not rejoice at the defeat of the enemy?

When the Lord Jesus began his ministry, he defeated Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). It was the first time a man had defeated Satan in a head-on encounter. It was revenge for the defeat of the first man in the garden. On this occasion, the Lord Jesus bound the strong man (Matt. 12:29), and from then on he began to take away the men he held captive. Moreover, we ourselves – as a church – can bind the enemy, because we have received authority to do so (Matt. 18:18).

For a little while Satan still has some terrain in which he can move, but he is always restricted and controlled by our God. The Lord uses him for our good, so He allows him to act; but the prayer of the church is absolutely effective, and we must exercise it diligently, encompassing all areas in which Satan intends to get in the way of God's will.

When Daniel prayed, there were enemy forces that prevented the response from coming for some time, but that did not prevent it from coming (Dan. 10:12-14). It did help Daniel exercise himself in prayer and patience. Thus, even Satan's opposition can favor us, if we persist to the end, because, on the way, we will have stripped ourselves of laziness and gained in patience. "…that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb. 6:12).

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