Friday, May 07, 2004

I'm curious where the practice of "praying against the devil" originated. I'm frequently in gatherings (especially in cross-denominational ones) where I encounter this. Specifically, I'm referring to prayers that go something like:

"And, Lord, I claim authority in Jesus' name, Lord, against the spiritual powers of darkness, Lord. (Yes, Lord.) Lord, I rebuke them in Jesus' name, Lord. Evil spirits, you have no power over us. etc etc"

The most disturbing part, for me, is the gradual shift away from petitioning God for protection and towards actually addressing the fiends of the netherworld. Are we really supposed to be having a shouting match against the devils? I'm in no way making light of the Scriptural warnings that Satan is a roaring lion and that the powers and principalities, though defeated, still wage war against God's elect. I just don't understand why petitioning the Father for His protection isn't enough.

An aside: my favorite personal example of the above is when a guy "prayed against the accident demons" that might beset those of us travelling that night. I'm sure it was meant with utmost sincerity, but I had to stifle a laugh.

I know I should probably blame Frank Peretti for some of this, but I'm wondering how far back it goes. I know that Luther allegedly made use of his flatulence to combat the wiles of Satan, but I'm not sure he ever did this in a corporate prayer ...

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