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We have looked at various forms of ministry prayer in our past few lessons. One aspect of this type of prayer is to take authority over demonic influences that may be affecting the person or people group you are praying for.
Deliverance prayer is setting people free from enemy oppression and bondage. It's not God's will for people to be oppressed and tormented by the enemy. Jesus described it as part of His "job description" to set people free from demonic oppression. In Luke 4:18, He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed."
And Jesus spent a large part of His ministry setting people free from demons. Matt. 8:16 describes it this way: "When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick." Mark 1:34 says: "Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him." There are many other Scriptures about Jesus casting out demons.
Jesus gave this same authority to His disciples in Matt. 10:1: "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease." And Jesus backed up this authority when the disciples used it. Mark 6:12-13 records: "So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them." Then, in the great commission, Jesus extended this authority over demons to all believers. He said, in Mark 16:17a, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons."
So deliverance prayer is quite biblical and reflects the type of ministry Jesus did and the practical ministry that His disciples did under His direction. So it's not surprising that we still do deliverance ministry. But I've discovered that most deliverance ministry "today" looks different from how it seems to have worked in the Bible.
I'd say that a lot of the principles of deliverance ministry are extra-biblical. They are not unbiblical; they don't contradict the Bible. But the Bible doesn't succinctly develop or spell out the principles used in most inner-healing or deliverance ministry. Does that mean they are wrong? I don't think so, because they work so well and God's presence shows up in deliverance ministry, complete with words of knowledge and supernatural revelation. But if you disagree on that, I won't debate the point with you. Deliverance ministry is a somewhat controversial area, and it's OK for believers to disagree in this area.
What I'm about to describe for deliverance is oversimplified, but it will be a good introduction for those new to this area. If you would like to read a much more developed discussion of deliverance, please check out the "Ministering Deliverance" teaching series by Rodney Hogue. It is available on the GodSpeak web page, free of charge. You can find it at
Or you can check out any of the excellent books on deliverance ministry available at your local Christian bookstore.
In general, there seem to be three types of demonic situations to deal with: generational spirits (Ex. 20:5b), spirits of infirmity (Luke 13:11) and demons with some "legal right" for attachment. (A legal right means the person participated in an activity that gave the demon a right to attach, such as playing with a Ouija board or seance; or the person committed a sin that gave demons entrance; or the person invited the demons in; or the person is harboring bitterness and unforgiveness, which give demons a legal right to torment them as per Matt. 18:32-35.)
If the spirit is a generational spirit, that means it came into the family lines through the sins of a previous generation and continues to torment family members in subsequent generations. In most cases, the generational spirit is a freeloader and can be dealt with simply by praying over the generations and putting the blood of Jesus and cross of Jesus between the generational spirits and the person. In other words, we simply expose that the demon is there without a valid right and command it to be gone from the person's life.
A spirit of infirmity is a demon that brings chronic and long-term sickness into the person's life. If the spirit of infirmity is there on its own, it usually doesn't have a strong reason to be there and can easily be evicted. When I'm casting out a spirit of infirmity, I always tell it to take its sickness and symptoms with it when it leaves. If the spirit of infirmity is there in conjunction with other spirits, then it's harder to get rid of until you deal with the legal rights the other demons have to that person.
Some demons have a legal right to demonize a person. If you encounter this, then the demon won't leave when you use your authority in Christ to cast it out. In this case, you have to deal with the legal right that permits the demon to stay. Once the right is removed, the demon will have to leave when you command it to go. If the legal right comes from unforgiveness, work with the person to get him to genuinely release forgiveness. If the legal right comes from a past or present sin, get the person to confess and sincerely repent of the sin. If the legal right comes from some dedication, vow, oath or invitation, get the person to renounce it. If the legal right comes from a soul tie, then break the soul tie. Whatever the legal right is, you need to nullify it by helping the person come back to right relationship with God in that area of his life. They need to get that thing under God's Lordship, and then it becomes much easier to evict the demon. But do remember that there are some demons that can be evicted only by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29).
In real life, there's usually a combination of things going on, rather than simply one of the three listed above. We do have a biblical precedence for multiple demons being in a person. (See Luke 8:30 or Mark 5:9.) Let me share an example.
One time a minister came to me for deliverance ministry, bringing his associate pastor along for support. The pastor had physical symptoms, where he had trouble breathing and his heart would start palpitating and he'd have chest pain and nausea. The first two times this happened, he was rushed to the hospital. The doctors ran several tests, but couldn't find anything wrong with him to account for these attacks. So the pastor began to look for spiritual causes. At first he thought it might be a spiritual warfare counterattack (an occult group was actively cursing his church and that could easily account for it). But none of the intercessory prayer or spiritual warfare principles seemed to bring him any relief and he started getting anxiety attacks as well, where he couldn't sleep at night. Please remember, we're talking about a very godly man who's incredibly gifted and is totally dedicated to serving God. Yet these attacks continued.
As he prayed, he felt it might be generational spirits causing him this torment. So he came to me for deliverance ministry. As we ministered, it "came up" though a word of knowledge that there was a relationship problem with someone he'd once looked to as a spiritual father, who was a bit on the controlling side. They separated on "not good terms" and the person cursed him with, "You will never succeed in ministry apart from me."
That unhealthy relationship had caused him much pain and he hadn't fully worked through forgiving the spiritual father who betrayed him. We dealt with that, broke the soul tie, and worked through complete forgiveness, and then evicted a spirit that had piggybacked on top of that hurtful situation. Suddenly his mind cleared, most of his immediate physical symptoms left and he was able to participate more actively in the ministry session. We then dealt with the generational spirits on his father's side. By the end of the session, he was feeling free, the physical symptoms and sense of anxiety were totally gone. I checked back with him weeks afterward, and he was still symptom free and his church was doing well.
Spiritual Warfare Prayer
Eph. 6:12 tells us that there is such a thing as spiritual warfare. It says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." In other words, the enemy has an army with rank and hierarchy. And his army is actively engaging God's army. (God's army comprises believers and angels).
We know that at least some of the angels are involved in this battle from Dan. 10:12-13. An angel spoke to Daniel, who had been intently seeking God for the interpretation to a vision for three weeks. The angel explained that he was sent with the answer the first day Daniel prayed, but he was detained due to spiritual warfare. "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me 21 days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia." This gives us a clear picture of an intense struggle or battle between angels and demons.
There are differing opinions on how involved God's children are supposed to be in that battle. Some view Eph. 6:12 as an indication that we are to take part in this battle, and others feel this battle is strictly for angels and people shouldn't enter into this realm. So what I'm about to discuss is highly controversial, and it's OK for believers to hold differing theologies on the subject of spiritual warfare.
There are many levels of spiritual warfare, where different levels of demons are engaged. Some would consider deliverance ministry as "ground-level spiritual warfare" because you are engaging demons and taking authority over them. We know that's scriptural, because Jesus performed deliverance on people who were demonized and commanded His followers to do likewise. (The controversy about deliverance lies in whether Christians can be demonized, not in whether believers have authority to cast out demons.) Pretty much all schools of thought believe Christians have authority to cast out demons that are controlling or influencing a person.
The next level of spiritual warfare would be engaging the "lower-level" demons that may be assigned to a household, school, church, or to a small neighborhood, etc. The activity of these demons usually affects more than just one person, but the number of people they affect is relatively small. This type of demon will have demons under it, and it will usually report to a higher-level demon, such as the demon over the city. The higher the level of demon engaged, the more number of people the influence and the more lower-level demons under their control.
Again, there's controversy among various spiritual warfare theologies as to what level of demons it's appropriate for believers to engage and what level should be left up to the angels to battle.
There are other forms of spiritual warfare that believers sometimes participate in. This list is far from exhaustive, but it's some of the more common things:
Another form of cursing is in the form of fetishes buried underground. Sometimes God will give intercessors divine revelation about the location of the fetishes and the intercessors will dig them up, break the curses and destroy the fetish.
Sometimes if some sort of atrocity was committed on the land, such as a mass murder or a slaughter of a bunch of people or Satanic blood sacrifices, then the ground can be "cursed" (as per Gen. 3:17, Gen. 4:10, 2 Kings 9:26, Ez. 24:6-8). In this case, you may have to deal with confession and repentance of the original atrocity to remove the curse from the land.
I had personal experience with this in my early days of spiritual warfare. I took on a prayer project mobilizing Christians in my city to pray against the "high murder rate." At that time, Oakland hand the third- or fourth-highest murder rate in the nation. I'd call the police on a weekly basis to find out how many murders had been committed in Oakland that week. I kept statistics of the murder rate as we prayed over several months. We took a strategy telling the spirit of murder that his assignment over Oakland was cancelled and putting up a spiritual boundary that he could not cause murders in the city of Oakland any more. The murder rate dropped drastically and we even began seeing weeks where no murders were reported. The murder rate dropped so much that Oakland stopped showing up in the list of the top-25 murder-rate cities in the USA for quite a while. We laid a boundary against the murderous spirits and apparently the spirits had to respect it. Now, what you gain in spiritual warfare usually has to be maintained through spiritual warfare. The project was completed several years ago and so far as I know, no one is praying about the murder rate in Oakland. It wouldn't surprise me if it has gone back up over time.