Prayer That Resists Satan
Let Us Pray (CFP White Cover), Watchman Nee
And he spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, and regarded not man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came oft unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming. And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night, and yet he is long-suffering over them? I say unto you, that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18.1-8)
The Three Aspects of Prayer
Our prayer has these three aspects: (1) we ourselves, (2) the God to whom we pray, and (3) our enemy, Satan. Every true prayer is related to all three aspects. When we come to pray, we naturally pray for our own welfare. We have needs, wants and expectations; and so we pray. We pray for the sake of fulfilling our requests. Even so, in true prayer we should not simply ask concerning those things pertaining to our own welfare, we should also pray for the glory of God and for heavenís rule over the earth. Although in having prayer answered we who pray are benefited as the immediate beneficiaries, the reality in the spiritual realm shows likewise that the Lord gets glory and that His will is done. Answer to prayer gives the Lord much glory, for it reveals the exceeding greatness of His love and power in fulfilling the request of His children. It also indicates that His will is done, because He will not answer prayer which is not in accordance with His will.
The petitioners are we; the petitioned is God. In a successful prayer, both the petitioner and the petitioned gain. The petitioner obtains his heart desire, and the petitioned gets His will done. This we do not need to dwell on at any length, since all of the Lordís faithful children who have some experience in prayer know the relation between those two aspects in prayer. But what we would like to remind believers of now is the fact that if in prayer we only attend to these two aspects of God and man, our prayer is yet imperfect. Even though it may be quite effective, there nevertheless is defeat in success for we still have not mastered the true meaning of prayer. No doubt all spiritual believers are aware of the absolute relationship between prayer and Godís glory and will. Prayer is not just for our own profit. Still, such knowledge is incomplete we must also notice the third aspect: that as we pray to the Lord, what we ask and what God promises will unquestionably hurt His enemy.
We know the ruler of this universe is God. Yet Satan is called "the prince of the world" (John 14.30) since "the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5.19). Hence we see that there are two diametrically opposing forces in this world, each seeking for ascendancy. God in truth has the ultimate victory; nonetheless, in this age of ours before the millennial kingdom, Satan continues to usurp power in this world to oppose Godís work, will, and interest. We who are children of God belong to God. If we gain anything under His hand, it naturally will mean that His enemy suffers loss. The amount of gain we make is the amount of Godís will done. And the amount of Godís will done is in turn the amount of loss Satan suffers.
Since we belong to God, Satan intends to frustrate, afflict, or suppress us and allow us no foothold. This is his aim, although his aim may not be achieved because we may approach the throne of grace by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, asking for Godís protection and care. As God hears our prayer, Satanís plan is definitely defeated. In answering our prayer God thwarts the evil will of Satan, and consequently the latter is not able to ill-treat us according to this scheme. Whatever we gain in prayer is the enemyís loss. So that our gain and the Lordís glory are in inverse proportion to Satanís loss. One gains, the other loses; one loses and the other gains. In view of this, we in our prayer should not only consider our own welfare and the glory and will of God but also observe the third aspectóthat which pertains to the enemy, Satan. A prayer that does not take into consideration all three aspects is superficial, of little worth, and without much accomplishment.
We have no need to talk about those prayers which are superficial, nonsensical and heartlessófor they have no effect upon any of the three aspects of prayer. In the case of a carnal Christian, even his sensible prayer lays stress solely on the one aspect of his own welfare. His motive in prayer is to benefit himself. What he has in mind is merely his own needs and wants. If only he can have the Lord answer his prayer and give him his heart desire, then he is satisfied. He does not recognize that there is such a thing as the will of God, nor is he aware of what the glory of God is. And of course he does not have the remotest concept concerning the aspect of making Satan suffer loss.
But not all believers are carnal. We thank and praise the Lord for the many among His children who are spiritual. When they pray, their purpose is not so selfish as to be satisfied if the Lord will only answer their prayer in supplying their personal needs. They also pay great attention to the glory and will of God. They expect Him to answer their prayer not because they only want to get something for themselves but because additionally He will be glorified in the answer to their prayer. In praying, they do not insist on having what they pray for, because they care for the will of God alone. Concerning that will, it is not a matter of whether the Lord is pleased to grant their petition but whether such answer to prayer shall conflict or not with the will of Godís work, government and plan. Attention is paid not only to the matter for prayer itself but also to the relation of such a prayer matter to the broad perspective of the Lordís work. Hence their prayer covers the two aspects of both God and man.
Nevertheless, very few Christians consider the third aspectóthat of Satanóin their prayer. The aim of a true prayer touches on not just personal gain (sometimes this aspect is not even thought of) but more importantly on the glory of God and the loss of the enemy. They do not reckon their own welfare to be of prime importance. They instead consider their prayer to be highly successful if it will cause Satan to lose and God to be glorified. What they look for in their prayer is the enemyís loss. Their view is not restricted to their immediate environment but they take as their perspective Godís work and will in the whole world. Yet let me add that this is not to suggest that they only take into account the aspects of God and Satan and entirely forget the personal aspect of prayer. As a matter of fact, when Godís will is done and Satan suffers loss they will unquestionably be profited themselves. The spiritual progress of a saint can therefore be judged by the emphasis to be seen in his prayer.
The Parable of Luke 18
In the parable recorded in Luke 18.1-8 our Lord Jesus touches upon all three features in prayer of which we have been speaking. In this connection, please note that we find three persons mentioned in the parable, namely: (1) the judge, (2) the widow, and (3) the adversary. The judge (in a negative way) represents God, the widow is representative of the church today or individual faithful Christians, while the adversary stands for our enemy the devil. When we explain this parable we frequently pay attention only to the relation between the judge and the widow. We note how this judge, who neither fears God nor regards men, finally avenges the widow because of her incessant coming; and, we conclude, since our God is not at all virtueless as is this judge, will He not surely avenge us speedily if we pray? Now this is about all that we explain from this parable.
Yet too many of us are unaware of the fact that we are neglecting another important person in the parable. Let us see that if there is no adversary, would this widow find it necessary to go to the judge? Yet she is driven to seek out the judge because she is oppressed by the adversary. Especially when we consider the words which this widow says to the judge, we cannot fail to recognize the place the adversary has in the story. For the sake of brevity the Scripture merely records these few words: "Avenge me of mine adversary"óyet how very much is contained in such a short sentence! Does it not tell of a most agonizing situation? Asking for vengeance reveals that there are wrongs. Where do such wrongs and grievances come from? None other than from the oppression of the defendantóthe adversary: and thus is uncovered the deep enmity which exists between him and the widow. It also tells of the severe harassment this widow has suffered at the hands of the adversary. What she complains of before the judge must undoubtedly be a rehearsal of her past experiences and of her current situation. What she asks for is that the judge may avenge her the wrongs done to her by bringing the adversary to justice.
In one sense this adversary is the central figure of the parable. Without him there would be no disturbance created under the judicial rule of the judge; nor, of course, would the widow be troubledóshe could quite easily live in peace. Unquestionably, without the adversary there would be no story nor parable, for the one who stirs up all the troubles is this adversary: he is the instigator of all confusions and afflictions. And hence he ought to be the focus of our attention as we now take up the three characters in the parable one by one.
This judge is the only authority in a certain city. He governs it entirely. In a sense this is a picture of the power and authority of God. Even though at present Satan temporarily rules over the world, he is but a usurper who has occupied it by force. When the Lord Jesus died on the cross He already cast out the prince of this world. In His death He "despoiled the principalities and the powers . . . [and] made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2.15). Although the world still lies under the evil one, it is totally illegal. And God has appointed a day when the kingdom shall be retaken and His Son shall be king over this world for a thousand years, and onward, then, to eternity. Yet before that time arrives God only permits Satan to remain active, while He himself holds the reins of government of this world. Satan may rule over all that belongs to Satan himself, he may even persecute all that belongs to God; nonetheless all of this is but for awhile. And even in this short while, Satan is entirely restricted by God. He may harass the saints but only within certain limits. Aside from what God permits, the enemy has no authority whatsoever. This we can perceive clearly in the story of Job. Just as this judge rules an entire city, so God rules over the entire world. And just as it is highly irregular for people under the rule of a judge to harass others and thus to become adversaries, so it is most extraordinary, even monstrous, for Satan who is under the rule of God to persecute the saints.
The character of this judge is told us in his own words: "I fear not God, nor regard man." What kind of immoral person he truly must be, neither having regard for God nor man. Yet due to the incessant coming of the widow and asking for vengeance, he is so troubled and worn out by her pleas that he finally avenges her. The Lord Jesus employs this judge in negative terms to underscore the goodness of God: for God is not like the virtueless judge in the parable: on the contrary, He is our gracious Father and He protects us: how He always loves to give us the best of things: and He is not unrelated to us as is the judge with the widow. Now, therefore, if such a judge as this one in the parable is willing to avenge the widow because of her incessant pleading, how much more will God who is so virtuous, so kind, and so intimately related to us avenge His children who pray to Him unceasingly? If an immoral judge will avenge a woman for her continuous cry, will not God at least work because of His own people? The reason why the widow finally obtains the judgeís consent to avenge her is to be found in her incessant asking. She can pin no hope in the judge himself, knowing how immoral and virtueless he is. Yet we must recognize that the answer to our prayer to God not only comes because of our praying unceasinglyówhich in itself should be sufficient for us to obtain what we ask foróbut also because of the goodness of God. That is why the Lord Jesus concludes the parable by asking: "Shall not God avenge his elect?" These three words, "shall not God", imply a comparison. Inasmuch as the widow depends solely on her incessant asking as the means of getting what she asks for, shall we not receive that which we ask for because of our constant prayer to God and because of His goodness?
This widow has no one on whom to rely. The very word "widow" sufficiently betrays the fact of her isolation. The husband on whom she always depended for her living is dead. She is now a widow. She truly serves as a good type for us Christians in the world. Our Lord Jesus has already ascended to heaven; so that speaking simply from the viewpoint of the physical, Christians are as without reliance as any widow. The teaching of Matthew 5 unveils the painful conditions of us Christians. We are to be the meekest of all, who offer no resistance of any kind; and hence, we suffer persecution and humiliation everywhere. The Lord Jesus and His apostles never instruct the believers to seek for power and position in this world; instead, they teach us to be humble and lowly by accepting the spite and harassment of this world and by refusing to claim anything according to right or law. Such is the position of the Christians and the path which our Lord himself has set for us. Inasmuch as the Son of God must die on the cross without any resistance or murmur, can His disciples ever expect a better treatment from the world? In view of all this, the widow here is indeed a good illustration of us Christians in this age.
Now even as the widow has her adversary, so we Christians have ours too. And our adversary is Satan. For the very meaning of the word "Satan" is "adversary", which signifies an enemy: "your adversary the devil" (1 Peter 5.8). We should therefore clearly recognize who is our enemy. Then we shall know how to approach our judge who is our God and accuse our enemy. If we wish to examine the root reason for the enmity existing between us and the devil we shall find that a long history lies behind it. To put it simply, this enmity began in the garden of Eden. After the fall of man, God said: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3.15). Inasmuch as the devil hurt us human beings, God has placed enmity in our hearts as well as in Satanís heart.
We know that the seed of the woman mentioned here in Genesis has reference to the Lord Jesus Christ: He and the devil are eternally at enmity. And this is something appointed by God himself. We who believe in the Lord Jesus stand on the Lordís side; accordingly, we cannot but reckon the Lordís enemy to be our enemy. Likewise, Satan the enemy of our Lord will not pass us lightly by and not oppose us. He considers the Lord Jesus to be his enemy, so that he is constrained to look upon the disciples of the Lord as his enemies also. But those who have not believed in the Lord Jesus are the devilís children (see John 8.44), and naturally the devil loves his own. Yet we have believed in, and are united with, the Lord Jesus; therefore, we will incur the devilís hatred for the sake of his hate towards our Lord.
Such enmity deepens day by day. Since the enemy is so strong and we are so poor and desolate as is the widow, he uses all his powers to oppress usócausing us great loss. So much have we suffered at his hands that we cannot stress too strongly how Christians today are wronged by the devil. And if these wrongs are not avenged, we will suffer loss forever. What a pity that many of Godís children are still unaware of the oppression of Satan.
Satan and the Saints
As the adversary evilly treated the widow, so the devil today evilly treats us believers. Who knows how much we have suffered at his hands? Of course, when he persecutes us he neither manifests his own self nor acts directly. All his works are done through people or things. He is not intent upon showing forth himself; on the contrary, he instigates people of the world to act for him while he himself directs in secret. As the devil took upon himself a cover in the form of a serpent at his first working, so he will seek a cover each time he operates today. Owing to his concealment, Godís children are often mistaken in recognizing their real enemy.
Sometimes he weakens believersí bodies, causing sickness and pain (see Acts 10.38); yet the believers may regard their conditions in terms only of hygiene or fatigue, without realizing that the devil is at work behind the scenes. In this one respect alone, oh how greatly do the Christians suffer at his hands!
Sometimes the enemy incites people of this world to persecute believers (see Rev. 2.10), who are therefore attacked by their communities, friends, and family members. Yet they think this is due to peopleís hatred towards the Lord; what they do not perceive is that the devil actually instigates the assaults. Sometimes the evil one works in the environment, involving believers in hardships and dangers. Frequently he will create misunderstanding among Christians so as to separate the dearest of friends and cause much heartbreak and tears.
Sometimes the enemy cuts off believersí material supplies, reducing them to wants and even to starvation. At still other times he oppresses their spirit and makes them feel depressed, restless and aimless. Or he may afflict the will of believers, causing them to lose the power of free choice and thus not be able to know what to do. Or he injects irrational fear into believersí hearts. Or Satan heaps things upon them to overtire them, or else takes away sleep from them to wear them out. Or he injects unclean or confused thoughts into their mind to weaken their resistance or else fashions himself into an angel of light to deceive and to lead the believers astray.
It is just impossible to exhaust the list of all the works the devil does. In short, the enemy will do anything which can cause believers to suffer either spiritually or physically, to fall into sins, or to incur loss or damage. Unfortunately, many of Godís children are unaware of the works of Satan when they suffer at his hands. Whatever happens they attribute to the natural, the accidental, and the humanónot discerning how in many natural occurrences there abides the satanically supernatural, how in many accidental episodes there hides the devilish plotting, and how in many human dealings there is involved the wicked maneuvers of the enemy.
Identify the Enemy
The most important thing before us now is to identify the enemy. We should know for sure who is our adversary, who it is that causes us much suffering. How frequently we account our sufferings to be from men. But the Bible tells us that "our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6.12). Hence every time we suffer from the hand of man, we need to remember that behind flesh and blood Satan and his powers of darkness can very well be there directing everything. We should have the necessary spiritual insight to discern the work of God from the maneuver of Satan at the back of everything. We should distinguish what is natural and what is supernatural. We should be so inwardly exercised as to gain knowledge of the spiritual realm so that none of Satanís hidden work can escape our observation.
Such being the case, shall we not recognize that what we usually consider to be incidental and natural happenings may involve the works of the enemy behind the scenes? We shall readily see that Satan is really trying to frustrate us at every turn and oppress us in all things. What a pity we have suffered so much from him in the past without knowing that it was he who made us suffer. Now part of the most urgent work of ours today is to generate a heart of hatred towards Satan for his cruelty. We do not need to be fearful lest our enmity towards Satan becomes too deep. Before there is the possibility of our overcoming we must maintain in our heart a hostile attitude towards him, no longer willing to subject ourselves to his oppression. We ought to understand that what we have suffered at Satanís hands is a real grievance which must be avenged. He has no right to harass us, yet he does it anyway. This is indeed an injustice, a grievance which cannot remain unavenged.
The Cry for Vindication
Now after this widow has suffered much, she comes to the judge asking for justice. This is something we ought to learn to do. We do not come to earthly judges, imploring them to act for us. No, we ask our judge who is none other than our Father God in heaven. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (2 Cor. 10.4), therefore we will not employ any earthly or fleshly means against the instruments of flesh and blood utilized by Satan. Quite the contrary, instead of showing impatience, anger or even hostility towards them, we should pity them for they are but the instruments of Satan. Let us see that in spiritual warfare the weapons of flesh are utterly useless. They are not only useless, but whoever uses them will without fail be overcome by Satan.
Spiritual weapons are of many kinds as we find recorded in Ephesians 6. The most effective among these weapons is prayer, mentioned in verse 18. True, we are without strength and therefore unable to avenge ourselves of our adversary. Yet we may pray to our God, asking him to avenge us. Prayer is the best offensive weapon against our enemy. Through it we may preserve our line of defense intact. Through prayer we can also attack our enemy and inflict great loss on his plan, work, and power. This widow realized that if she struggled with her adversary by herself she would not prevail because she, being a weak widow, could never withstand a powerful rogue such as he. In the same way, if Godís children strive independently without relying, by means of prayer, on Godís power and backing to accuse the enemy and to ask God for vindication, they too will be injured by fiery darts. In this parable the Lord Jesus teaches us the best way to overcome the adversary, which is to pray day and night to Godóasking Him to avenge us of our enemy by judging him.
Prayer That Resists Satan
The Bible gives us many helps in this matter of praying against Satan. We will here examine a few of these passages so as to learn how to offer up such prayer.
We recall how in Genesis 3 God punished and cursed the devil after his first evil working. In that divine curse God plainly foretold that the head of the devil would be crushed by the Lord Jesus at the cross. Accordingly, whenever we suffer under the devilís hands we may take advantage of the punishment meted out to him by praying: "O God, curse Satan afresh so that he cannot do what he pleases. You have crushed him in the garden of Eden. I ask You to curse him anew, placing him again under the power of the cross so as to immobilize him." What the devil fears most is the curse of God. As soon as God curses, Satan dare not hurt us.
It is recorded in Mark 1 that when the Lord Jesus cast out demons He did not permit them to speak. Hence when Satan uses people to utter many words of misunderstanding or violence, we may ask the Lord to shut his mouth and not permit him to speak through them. Sometimes as we are preaching the gospel or teaching people, we may ask the Lord to forbid the devil to speak to our audience so as to induce them to doubt or to resist the word of God. We remember the story of Daniel in the lionsí den. One prayer is really quite effective: "O Lord, shut the lionís mouth; do not allow him to hurt Your own people."
Matthew 12 furnishes us with another good word on prayer from the Lord: "How can one enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house" (v.29). We know that the strong man to whom the Lord refers is Satan. In order to overcome Satan we must first bind him, thus immobilizing him. We ourselves, of course, do not have the strength to bind the strong man and cause him to lose his freedom in resisting our works. But we can pray. In our prayer we may ask God to bind Satan and render him powerless. Each time we begin a work, if we first bind Satan in prayer our victory is assured. We ought always to pray: "O Lord, bind the strong man."
"To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3.8). As soon as we discern a work of the devil, we can pray as follows: "O God, Your Son was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. How we thank You, for He has destroyed the devilís works on the cross. But the devil is now again working. Please destroy his work in us, destroy his manipulation over our work, destroy his devices in our environment, and destroy all his works." When we pray, we may pray according to the current situation in which we find ourselves. If we notice that Satan is working in us or family or work or school or nation, we can ask God to destroy his work in that particular area.
Jude records the word which Michael the archangel declared to Satan: "The Lord rebuke thee" (v.9). After that word was spoken Satan did not dare resist anymore. We may therefore use this same word in our prayer against him. We ask the Lord to rebuke the enemy. We ought to know that the Lord hearkens to such prayer. If we ask Him to rebuke, He will rebuke. We must also believe that after the Lord has rebuked Satan, the enemy is no longer able to withstand, for he is afraid of the Lordís rebuke. When our Lord rebuked the wind and the sea, these elements listened to Him and instantly the wind ceased and the sea became calm. His rebuke produces the same effect on Satan.
In reading the Psalms we will see how effective is the rebuke of the Lord! "Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of the world were laid bare, at thy rebuke, O Jehovah, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils" (18.15). "At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep" (76.6). "It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance" (80.16). "At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away" (104.7). "He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up" (106.9). These Scripture verses show us the power of the rebuke of the Lord. If the Lord rebukes Satan, the latter can never withstand. When the enemy oppresses us, we should ask God to rebuke him.
It is written in Matthew 16 that for the sake of human affection Peter wished to block the Lord Jesus from going to the cross. The Lord rebuked him, saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (v.23).
Whenever the devil makes use of our friends or relatives to hinder usófor the sake of human affectionófrom doing Godís will, we may ask God to put Satan behind us.
In Matthew 6 it is recorded that the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray in this fashion: "Deliver us from the evil one" (v.13). Since we do not know when the evil one will come to molest us, we ought to pray with this word.
Our Lord Jesus, "having despoiled the principalities and the powers, . . . made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the cross]" (Col. 2.15). Whenever we see the devilís power on a rampage we should stand on the ground of the cross, asking the Lord to put the devil to shame once more. The devil has already suffered shame on the cross; so, based on his first humiliation, we can ask the Lord to put him to shame again. When the devil is shamed, he dare not raise his head. How then can he molest us again? Hence let us pray: "O Lord, we now stand on the foundation of the cross, asking You to again put the devil to shame."
The Duration of Prayer
How long ought we to pray such prayer? We know there are many prayers which need to be prayed only once. But prayer which attacks Satan has no fear of being too much. The purpose of this parable which our Lord gives is that we "ought always to pray" (Luke 18.1). This judge avenges the widow not for the sake of justice nor for any other reason but because he cannot stand her continual coming. Does he not say to himself, "I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming"? Consequently, this kind of prayer should be offered without intermission. Such prayer against the adversary is not merely to be uttered at times of special need, it is to be maintained as an attitude and breathed unceasingly in the spirit in ordinary days when all is calm. The Lord Jesus, in explaining the word of this parable, asks: "And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night"? This kind of prayer must therefore be prayed day and night without ceasing. We should accuse our enemy before God incessantly, since we are told in Revelation 12 that Satan "accuseth [the brethren] before our God day and night" (v.10). If he accuses us day and night, should we not also accuse him day and night?
This is true vindication: as the devil treats us, so shall we treat him. The cry of this widow continued on until the adversary was judged and punished and she was avenged of her grievance. As long as there is another day in which Satan still usurps the world, and so long as he is not yet imprisoned in the bottomless pit or cast into the lake of fire, we will not cease from praying against him. Not until God has avenged us and Satan has in truth fallen as lightning from heaven shall our prayer come to an end. How much it is the desire of God that we show deeper hatred towards the devil. Have we not suffered enough from him?!? He has shown his enmity towards us at every step of our way, he has caused us to suffer terribly both in body and in spirit; why, then, do we endure his persecution without speech or prayer? Why have we not risen up to accuse him before our God with words of prayer? We ought to seek for vindication. Why do we not continually approach God and accuse the enemy, thus releasing the long-suppressed exasperation? The Lord Jesus is calling us today to oppose the devil with prayer.
The Effect of Prayer
What is the effect of such prayer? Its effect is seen at two different times. First is the immediate effect. Every time the enemy is accused he is once again restricted by God from hurting us. Though after a lapse of time he may return, nonetheless during the period in which he is being accused, he does not dare do any violence; for each time we claim the victory of the cross, that victory becomes real to us once more. Every time we pray against the enemy, his work is again destroyed by the Lord and he himself is rebuked afresh by the Lord.
If we pray one more time Satan will suffer one more loss. As God hears our prayer one more time, the profit of Satan is despoiled one more time.
Yet this effect goes beyond the immediate. The Lord Jesus lays stress here on the ultimate vindication. As we pray time and again, the Lord rebukes and destroys the devil again and again. But this is not yet final, that is, it is not once and for all; because the devil is only temporarily restricted; he has still to suffer the consequence of his final defeat. "And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night," asks the Lord, "and yet he is long-suffering over them." This refers to Satanís ultimate destruction. We know how the enemy will be imprisoned in the bottomless pit during the millennial kingdom. Afterwards he will be cast by the Lord Jesus into the lake of fire. Then is the ultimate vindication of the believers. For this reason, Christians today ought to offer up much prayer against the devil, in order that their grievances might be forever vindicated. Now is the time of the long-suffering of God. Even though He does hear believersí prayers and restricts the works of the devil, He nevertheless has not wholly cast the devil out to make it impossible for him to molest us.
Hence this is also the time for believers to pray in order to hasten the dawning of that day. In this respect, our prayer would seem to have the effect of accelerating Godís working. If the widow did not always plead, who would have known when the judge would have ever avenged her of her adversary. Her constant pleading speeded up the day of her vindication. We today must do likewise. "I say unto you," says the Lord, "that he will avenge them speedily." It would appear as if the Lord is here implying that the speed of Godís work is determined by the frequency of our prayer. If we always accuse the devil in prayer, God will avenge us speedily. When the Lord Jesus comes again, He will cast Satan out of heaven so as to deprive him of all his power. Prayer which accuses Satan will hasten the day of the Lordís return.
Work Together with God
We often reflect that God does all things according to His will. This is doubtless correct. However, it is only one side of the truth, not the whole truth. God works according to His willóthat is surely His principle; but when He really gets to working He always waits for His children to express their sympathy with His will through prayer before He does anything.
How God needs men to work together with Him. He truly has His own will, yet He wants men to ask according to His will. Then He will quickly accomplish the work of His determinate will. Without the prayer of His children, which indicates their working together with Him, He will not perform alone what He wills to do. To destroy the devil is Godís intention. To avenge the believers is undoubtedly His will. Nevertheless, He waits for His childrenís prayers. Just as the judge in the parable would not have avenged the widow if she had not come and pleaded her cause, so God today will not avenge the believers speedily if they do not pray against Satan. We do not know exactly why this is so, and yet we do know how much God likes His people to work together with Him. Naturally, accusation must be based on fact. But as believers are indisputably being harassed by Satan, they may accuse him before God of the ill-treatment they have received. And this will put him to death.
The Last Days
When the Lord Jesus finished speaking this parable, He concluded with a final word: "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Judging by this statement, it would seem as though at the time of His soon return, there will be a great lack of this kind of prayer among His own people. They do not pray such prayer because they have no faith. They speculate that it is too big and too difficult a thing to cast Satan from heaven into the bottomless pit and then the lake of fire. Since the promise that "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16.20) has yet to be fulfilled after twenty centuries, how can I expect God to finish off Satan through my prayer? What the Lord Jesus means by His word is that at the time of His imminent return people will lack faith in praying about this matter. However, the last days is the time when we should so pray. Can we be the few faithful ones who, in the days when such prayer is so rare, offer up prayers against the devil so as to cause him to lose position and power? We know in the last days Satan and his evil spirits are to be exceptionally active in their operations. Therefore, we must pray more than ever against him and overthrow his government. Speaking truthfully, there is no greater work which Godís children could do today than this work. Who is willing to pray against Satan for the sake of God and himself?
"Strive thou, O Jehovah, with them that strive with me: fight thou against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that pursue me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. Let them be put to shame and brought to dishonor that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and confounded that devise my hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind, and the angel of Jehovah driving them on. Let their way be dark and slippery, and the angel of Jehovah pursuing them. For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit; without cause have they digged a pit for my soulÖ. Stir up thyself, and awake to the justice due unto me, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord" (Ps. 35.1-7,23).