I had a friend who would say: “The real battle is in prayer. The rest is just a mopping up operation”. When we take a step back and remember the greatness of our God, we better grasp the fact that the victory is in God’s hands, in the end. He is over all global events. When we pray to Him, we are wielding weapons in a spiritual battle that can change the world.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
The war room of Rees Howells
Good intercessors are those who know their God and take Him at His word. Rees Howells was such a man. He led many in prayerful determination to see the world reached with the Gospel during a time of huge international upheaval in World War II, and provides a great example for us today.
“The first battle of prayer on this international scale was in 1936 when Germany sent her soldiers into the Rhineland, and broke the Locarno Treaty. “We knew that France would be on fire in a day,” said Mr. Howells, “and it meant nothing less than a European war, and the consequent hindrance to the spread of the Gospel. Only those who were in the College can realize the burden the Holy Spirit put on us. ‘Prevail against Hitler’, He said to me, and it meant three weeks of prayer and fasting.”” (Norman P. Grubb, Rees Howells – Intercessor)1
Howells and his school of intercessors in Wales, UK, vowed to give their lives over “to fight the battles of the Kingdom, as really as if called to fight on the Western Front”. The whole Bible college prayed and fasted regularly throughout the whole war, taking a stand of faith in order that the Gospel might not be hindered. Howells declared,
“The Lord has made known to us that He is going to destroy Hitler and the Nazi regime, that the world may know that it was God and God alone who has scattered the dictators. Three and a half years ago, the College prayed this prayer for weeks and months, and we firmly believe He will now answer it… He will deal with the Nazis as He dealt with the Egyptian army in the time of Moses.”
Rees Howells was a man who knew the power of prayer, and knew that they could affect what went on in the battlefield in Germany from his own “War Room” in the United Kingdom.
In one incident, the Germans were advancing rapidly and the intercessors prayed that they would be stopped in their tracks and not be able to proceed any further. That night a lot of rain fell, producing mud, which rendered the German tanks literally stuck in the mud, and stopped right in their tracks. The stories of how their prayers really influenced battle situations over those terrible years are breathtaking.
We have the same access to the same God. We can go into the “war room” of prayer with God, going into spiritual battle with prayers and petitions to the One who holds king’s hearts in His hands.
Spiritual battle is the real battle
Even though there are Israeli troops battling in Gaza, even though there are terrorists firing missiles without ceasing, the truth is that the real action is not on the ground. Army generals and Hamas leaders may think they are calling the shots, but as we see countless times in the Bible, the battle belongs to the Lord. If God decides that one side will lose, there’s no military might, not genius strategy that will help. He can confound troops and make them turn on each other. God can create illusions to scare off thousands, as He has done many times in the history of Israel (2 Kings 7 for example). He even made the sun stand still one time (Joshua 10), giving Israel victory in their battle against the Amorites! However, we do have a part to play. Consider Gideon and the his vastly outnumbered army. Those who stayed to fight had chosen courage and faith, but it was God who gave the victory.
When fighting the Amalekites who had attacked the Israelites leaving Egypt from behind, it was Moses standing in prayer that governed whether Israel was winning or losing. When his arms sank, the Amalekites got the upper hand, but when his arms were lifted up to heaven, God gave Israel the victory to Israel. God is not a warmonger but He has got plans and purposes. As His people we can join Him by praying. In doing so we are like Aaron and Hur who held up the arms of Moses at Rephidim—our prayers support and lift up those fighting against the evil manifesting in Hamas, by prevailing in the spiritual realms.
So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17:9-13)
In the same way, we see God’s handiwork in Israel’s more recent history, through the many miracles of 1917, 1948, and especially 1967. Against all odds, God has preserved His people and put an end to all attempts to undo His work of regathering Israel.
God has said that Israel will never cease to be a nation before Him (Jeremiah 31:34-35) so when evil regimes rise up threatening to annihilate God’s people, it is right for us to stand in prayer for Israel, even as we also pray for salvation for Israel’s enemies.
The real battle is against the spiritual powers and principalities at work in the heavenly realms, and your prayers are a very important part of that battle.
Prayer releases angels
Many have been praying for protection: protection for Israel, for the hostages, protection for the soldiers, protection for the innocent ones in Gaza… and I’m sure angels have been moved as a direct result. In Psalm 91 we see that God commands angels to help with protection:
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)
If we have been asking for protection then God will have sent forth His messengers for that purpose. It’s in His word. There are several testimonies which show this is not just theoretical—angels were actually seen protecting people in response to prayer.
Angels have been sent in response to the prayers of saints like you.
One case was of the Reverend John G. Paton and his wife, who had gone as pioneers to serve in the unreached New Hebrides Islands. One night they were surrounded by local people hostile to their mission, and intent on setting fire to the headquarters. Here’s the story, as told in Billy Graham’s book, “Angels: God’s Secret Agents”:
“John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left. They thanked God for delivering them. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The reverend answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard – hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.”2
Another incident happened in Kenya in 1960, during an uprising of a people group called the Maus Maus:
“Matt and Lora Higgens were returning one night to Nairobi through the heart of Mau Mau territory, where Kenyans and foreigners alike had been killed and dismembered. Seventeen miles outside of Nairobi their Land Rover stopped. Higgens tried to repair the car in the dark, but could not restart it. They spent the night in the car, but claimed Psalm 4:8: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” In the morning they were able to repair the car. A few weeks later the Higgenses returned to America on furlough. They reported that the night before they left Nairobi, a local pastor had visited them. He told how a member of the Mau Mau had confessed that he and three others had crept up to the car to kill the Higgenses, but when they saw the sixteen men surrounding the car, the Mau Mau left in fear. “Sixteen men?” Higgens responded. “I don’t know what you mean!” While they were on furlough a friend, Clay Brent, asked the Higgenses if they have been in any danger recently. Higgens asked, “Why?” Then Clay said that on March 23, God had placed a heavy prayer burden on his heart. He called the men of the church, and sixteen of them met together and prayed until the burden lifted.”3
Another more recent sighting was with a Christian midwife who was in the north west frontier of Pakistan, working amongst the people on the border with Afghanistan. She was heading to a village in an insecure area to help with a difficult delivery. All went well and she returned safely home. Some time later she met some tribesmen who told her they had been going to attack her on that day, but they saw she had a guard on the back of her motorbike and so left her alone. She was totally unaware of her angelic bodyguard! But people were praying for her. We pray to God, not to angels, but the angels are sent by God and obey His instructions.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
When Daniel the prophet prayed, it caused commotions in the heavenly realms. Immediately. His prayers set angels in motion. An angel comes in response to Daniel’s words, and gives us a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes…
Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia (Daniel 10:12-13)
Daniel’s words catalyzed angelic activity as he prayed. Yours can too.
Pray using Scripture
It’s interesting to note that the couple in Kenya “claimed” Psalm 4:8, a passage about protection and safety. They believed it to be true, and stood on the promise in their prayers. Daniel also prayed in line with Scripture, basing his prayers on the prophecies given by Jeremiah. Using passages of Scripture is such a powerful way to pray. We can know for sure that it’s God’s will because He said it! God makes promises and assurances about who He is and what we can expect from Him. We can take those passages and speak them back to God, asking Him to send His mighty ones to enforce and enact what He has said. Here are a few passages that have been suggested that you can use, and I’m sure you can think of many others:
Psalms 140:4-11, Psalms 9:13-15, Psalms 35:4-9, Psalms 57:6, Psalms 124:1-8, Psalm 142:2-7
This war is named “Operation Swords of Steel” by the IDF, but we are wielding the sword of the word of God. This is a spiritual battle, and the declaration of truth and God’s word is a mighty weapon. We war against the enemy’s agenda, and we come in the opposite spirit; filled with love and the life of God Himself. We know that, in addition to the preservation of His chosen people, God longs that all would be saved. We can confidently pray for a huge wave of people to turn to Jesus at this time, both in Israel and in Gaza. As we pray for all concerned, let’s lift us the immense spiritual hunger that has been stirred among Israelis, and let’s also pray for many in Gaza to turn away from Islam and come to the Father who loves them, as so many did when ISIS was on the rampage in Iraq and Syria.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
- Rees Howells: Intercessor | Chapter 34 – Intercession for Dunkirk
- Billy Graham, Angels: God’s Secret Agents (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004)
- Wesley L. Duewel, Touch the World Through Prayer (Zondervan, 1989)
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