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C. Peter Wagner has written a series on prayer called the "Prayer Warrior Series." It is comprised of five books, all published by Regal Books. They are:
- Warfare Prayer - ISBN 0-8307-1534-7 - Copyright 1992
- Prayer Shield - ISBN 0-8307-1573-8 - Copyright 1992
- Breaking Strongholds In Your City - ISBN 0-8307-1597-5 - Copyright 1993 (This is a collection of Spiritual Mapping articles by several authors and edited by C. Peter Wagner).
- Churches That Pray - ISBN 0-8397-1658-0 - Copyright 1997
- Confronting The Powers - ISBN 0-8307-1819-2 - Copyright 1996
What I would like to do is to give you a brief overview or highlight of each book to whet your appetite... I strongly recommend that you read all of them.
This book contains the basics or the "getting started" for spiritual warfare. This book particularly brings back memories for me, as I was one of the students in Peter's first MC551 "Spiritual Warfare" class at Fuller Seminary in March of 1992. That class was the essence of the book, plus many powerful guest instructors such as Bob Becket, Cindy Jacobs and John Dawson. The first class was so emotionally gripping and traumatic for the students (myself included) that they "toned it down" for subsequent years, making it more academic and containing less emotionally gripping case studies and detailed stories.
This book captures the essence of the class. It contains much practical information on how to get started. It also contains insights into how God structures/runs His kingdom and also how Satan runs his kingdom. It shares some case studies of actual spiritual warfare encounters and the ensuing (and quite measurable) results. It develops a theological basis for spiritual warfare as well as detailing some of the practical aspects of preparing for the battle and engaging in the battle. It puts an emphasis on character development and personal relationship with God, which is quite necessary for those who desire to engage in spiritual warfare. It presents the concept of "Spiritual Boot Camp" where we develop the discipline we need to be successful. Here is a quote from page 106:
Basic training applies equally to Christians who desire to do spiritual battle. Too many Christians want to get involved in the action without first submitting themselves to the discipline necessary to equip a warrior for battle. To the degree that they do, they leave themselves open to serious personal attack and they run the risk of bringing discredit to the body of Christ.
That chapter goes on to develop how we must have an equal balance of "drawing near to God" and "resisting the devil." We should not be heavily involved in spiritual warfare if we are not in a close and intimate relationship with God and walking in personal holiness. On the other hand, Peter Wagner proposes that those who are close to God and walking in holiness also need to be actively resisting the devil. Peter sees two important keys to personal holiness: right relationships with others and a deep commitment to obeying God. He says, page 117, "Holiness is not to love Jesus and do whatever you want. Holiness is to love Jesus and do what He wants."
"Prayer Shield" covers the topic of personal intercession.. e.g. of those who are committed to pray for and cover an individual (such as a pastor or the leader of a ministry) in prayer. It begins by sharing some true stories of the power of prayer, and also develops what the Bible teaches on the subject of intercession and prayer partners.
The second chapter explores intercessors from every angle. I feel that one of the most beneficial portions of the book is found on pages 54 to 56, where Peter talks about different types of intercessory assignments and the traits or characteristics of people called to each of these four categories.
This is particularly helpful because it sets people free to operate effectively in their gifting.. to throw off the stereotypes of what an intercessor "should be" and to flow powerfully in their own particular flavor of intercession. For instance, some people have a special gift or anointing to pray things through.. they like details.. they want specific requests and they want to know the status on them... these people often make prayer lists as reminders of their current prayer projects, and also have journals that contain a history of prayer requests and when and how God answered them. These people want and need details and like feedback. There are others who are very good at coming into God's presence and hearing directly from Him both on what to pray for and how to pray about it. They tend to be fairly prophetic and hear directly from God rather than taking their requests from people. They can't "pray lists" to save their lives. They often like to have a little bit of high level information to launch into going before God to hear His direction on a prayer topic. But they must hear from God before they can pray it through. They don't tend to need much feedback or details because God gives the information they need when they come before Him. You don't want to withhold specifics and details and feedback from those with the special anointing to take a request and pray it through... otherwise they will be very frustrated. At the same time, you don't want to bog a prophetic intercessor down with a bunch of detailed and specific requests, because that is like putting chains on them and holding them back from entering into God's presence to get their assignments directly from Him.
Subsequent chapters develop why pastors and leaders need personal intercession, and how they can begin developing and mobilizing personal intercessors. They discuss prayer partners and crisis intercessors and intercessor teams and personal intercessors. They teach leaders how to receive intercession and how to develop relationship with their intercessors and how to supply them with the information they need to be effective.
(A personal note.. I used to be one of Peter and Doris' personal or I-3 intercessors, and I can attest that they live what they teach in this book.. and as an intercessor, I found their system very workable.)
BREAKING STRONGHOLDS IN YOUR CITY
This book is a collection of writings on spiritual mapping, or on how to recognize what strongholds the enemy holds in your city or territory.. and thus how to break them and see God's power come into the situation. George Otis Jr writes "An Overview Of Spiritual Mapping", where he explains how understanding events of the past can give you the keys to breakthrough in present situations.
Peter Wagner writes an article entitled "The Visible and the Invisible", where he explores the spiritual forces behind many situations. Peter points out that both sides (God and the devil) are at work behind the scenes in present day situations and that we need to recognize God's hand in a situation (so we can cooperate with Him) as well as discerning what the enemy is up to.
Cindy Jacobs writes "Dealing With Strongholds". She identifies 9 different types of strongholds: personal strongholds or "holes in our armor", strongholds of the mind where the enemy tries to implant hopelessness into our thinking to destroy our faith, ideological strongholds (philosophies and mindsets), occult strongholds, social strongholds (caused by social injustices, poverty, racism, etc.), strongholds between the church and the government ("us" against "them" mentality), principalities over certain geographical regions, sectarian strongholds (or disunity caused by narrow-minded viewpoints), and strongholds caused by iniquities or "the sins of the fathers".
Kjell Sjoberg writes about prophetic prayer and spiritual mapping, or "smart praying". He also discusses "prophetic prayer actions" done at God's direction, such as when Gideon tore down the Asherah pole and altar to Baal. Then he goes on to develop how we can ask the right questions of history to confirm what God has been showing us prophetically.
Harold Caballeros writes a very detailed "Defeating The Enemy With The Help Of Spiritual Mapping". He discusses many aspects of spiritual warfare, including how to identify and defeat the strongman (or controlling demonic spirit) over an area.
Bob Becket writes "Practical Steps Toward Community Deliverance", where he shares the wisdom and practical steps he learned in a twenty year period where God used him to transform his city of Hemet, California. He gives an illustration I really liked.... in a section titled "Scud Missiles and Smart Bombs." On page 158, he writes:
I thought of the scud missiles Saddam Hussein launched during the 1991 Gulf war. Even though these missiles were aimed in the right direction and they did strike some vague targets, their obvious lack of accuracy prevented the missiles from achieving their full destructive potential. I began to see that our prayer for our community [Hemet] was somewhat like the dictator's misguided missiles. We were striking out at the enemy, but because of our lack of strategic information, we were incapable of isolating or discerning a specific target, aiming at it and hitting it.
Victor Lorenzo shares a strategy and case study of spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare in Resistencia, Argentina. He shares the dramatic results they saw there as a result of the warfare. Then Mark McGregor and Bev Klopp share a case study of using spiritual mapping in spiritual warfare for Seattle, Washington.
The book ends with a summary chapter by Peter Wagner, where he "ties it all together."
CHURCHES THAT PRAY
The first chapter summarizes the prayer movement that has been gaining momentum these past few years. Chapters 2 and 3 cover the two-way nature of prayer.. both speaking to God and hearing from Him. The next two chapters cover how prayer can be vital for all aspects of a local church. The remaining 5 chapters deal with taking prayer outside the churches and into the community, in the form of praise marches, prayer walks, prayer expeditions and prayer journeys.
The chapter that blessed me the most was the chapter on what Peter calls "Action Prayer." He draws a distinction between "rhetoric prayer" (e.g, just going through the motions of prayer and not expecting much by way or results) and action prayer. I don't want to describe it too much, because I really want you to read it. Instead let me share a few quotes with you...
"We are working with God to determine the future. Certain things will happen in history if we pray rightly... God's plans for us are not chiselled in concrete. Only His character and His nature are unchanging; His decisions are not... Daniel prayed and God answered his prayer on the same day. However, the answer took 21 days to arrive, not because God was slow, but because the Prince of Persia succeeded in delaying it. ... This new element in prayer -- the resistance to the Power of God's will -- makes a decisive break with the notion that God is the cause of all that happens. If Daniel had not continued fasting and praying, would the answer have ever arrived? Probably not. That is why prayer is so important and why history belongs to the intercessors." (Pp 44-45).
"But can we know the will of God before we pray? Certainly. Two major ways to know the will of God are: 1) reading it in Scripture (see 2 Tim 3:15,16) and 2) asking Him and getting a response (see John 14:26; 16:13; 2 Tim 2:7; Jas 1:5-7)... It is becoming popular in some circles to spend a good portion of prayer time in Praying The Scriptures... The second way of praying according to God's will is to ask Him and determine His will before we pray. Jesus said that He only did what He saw the Father doing (See John 5:19). We are to do likewise. A major key to knowing the Father's will is to spend time with Him." (Pp. 49-50)
CONFRONTING THE POWERS
The first chapter in this book is very practical and pragmatic, giving some very concrete recent history examples of spiritual warfare and practical guidelines in how to engage in it. The second chapter deals with Epistemology or "trying to figure out how we know what we know." Peter states on page 41 that his primary reason for writing this book is to address issues raised by his critics. As a result, the book tends to be a bit more academic that the others in the series.
The third chapter deals with Hermeneutics and the fourth with spiritual warfare in early church history, such as Saint Benedict of Nursia's power encounter with the principalities ruling Monte Cassino. (He prepared for that with a 40 day fast, followed by attacking and destroying an altar to Apollo, various enemy counter-attacks and periods of prayer, culminated by raising a man from the dead through prayer.)
The next chapter explores what Scripture has to say on spiritual warfare, and the remaining chapters look at New Testament spiritual warfare encounters, primarily from the book of Acts.
One of the things I found particularly useful was on pages 20 to 21, where Peter identifies three levels of spiritual warfare:
(This third level of spiritual warfare is controversial.. some leaders feel this is outside of the scope of the believer's authority. Peter holds that this is not the case and he uses this book to argue in favor of believers participating in strategic level spiritual warfare.) My own personal view on it is that high level strategic spiritual warfare may be right for some believers whom God has gifted and called to this, but is not for all believers. No one should enter into this lightly or participate in it unless they have been explicitly tasked to do so by the Lord. We need to be led of God and obedient to Him in all we do. If God leads us to a battle, then we must go fight. However, we should not go looking for battles He has not called us to.. and we must be able to hear and discern His voice clearly so that we can tell whether or not He is calling us to any particular battle. The key to success is in listening to Him and obeying what He commands... whether it is to enter into the battle or to stay out of it .. we need to hear Him clearly and then do what He directs.