“Continue earnestly in prayer, be vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:2-4
Spiritual warfare breaks the control that the powers of darkness have over towns, cities and nations.
The enemy’s chains have to be broken in order for frontier missions to progress. Spiritual darkness and chains of servitude often bind those who haven’t been reached with the Truth. These chains bind cities and countries with principalities and powers that seek to control the affairs of the occupants. Presently, in the world of missions, we are experiencing a rediscovery of spiritual power that results in reaching the lost in much the same way Yahweh confronted the gods of Egypt and the Baals of Mount Carmel. The thrust is the same, a powerful spiritual encounter between the true God and false deities; those spiritual beings who control segments of human events in lands and territories.
Dr. C. Peter Wagner in a symposium on evangelistic power, at Fuller Theological Seminary, affirms the following: “Satan delegates to high ranking members of the hierarchy of evil spirits the control of nations, regions, tribes, towns, neighborhoods and other significant human effort. His main objective is to hinder God from being exalted. This is accomplished by the action of lower ranking demons.”
Ephesians 6 indicates that all Christians are involved in an invisible battle with the powers of darkness. This invisible battle is intensified with those missionaries, intercessors and pastors who are involved in frontier missions. The apostle Paul says that our battle or literal ‘fight’ has to be shaped by a spirit led prayer. In this cosmic battle we have two offensive weapons at our disposal, the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God and prayer. With this in mind, if we are to accomplish missionary outreach in towns, cities and countries, we have to learn to use prayer as an offensive weapon to evict the powers of darkness. Dr. Wagner makes this implication: “If the hypothesis concerning territorial spirits is correct and if we can learn how to break their strongholds through the power of God, then the resistance/receptivity axis could change overnight.”
Francis Frangipane points out similar traits when he writes about the strongholds that the powers of darkness have over people groups: “There are Satanic strongholds over cities and communities; there are strongholds that have influence in churches and individuals … These strongholds exist in the thought patterns and ideas that govern an individual … communities and nations. Before shouting the victory, these stronghold have to be demolished and Satan’s weapons destroyed. Then the powerful weapons of the Word and the Spirit will effectively plunder Satan’s dwelling.”
In Mark 3:27, Jesus said something that is especially relevant to frontier missions activity: “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.” This affirms the reason why we as Christians cannot impulsively enter and plunder what has belonged to Satan for centuries (portions of humanity under his domain) without first binding those territorial spirits who have control over specific regions. Prayer in the Spirit, based on discovered facts, is a powerful force to bind the strong man in any city, town and country. In his book, John Dawson shows how through investigation one can discover the links that communities may have with the powers of darkness and how prayer in the unity of the Spirit can break these links.
In Matthew 18:18-19, Jesus gives assurance to those who pray in this manner: “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
Spiritual warfare begins when we begin to pray in unity with others. This teaching demonstrates the importance of prayer groups networking to agree in prayer for cities and countries. It seems to me that this will bring the advance.
The Greek word for ‘bind’ in these verses means to ‘imprison’ or ‘chain-up’. God’s people praying in unity will limit and imprison the activity of hostile spiritual beings, bringing glory to God’s name and expanding His Kingdom on earth.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
The experience of Evangelist Omar Cabrera, in Argentina, highlights the power of praying in the Spirit as a weapon against the occult. Through the years, Cabrera has made a habit of fasting and praying various days before an evangelistic service in a city he’s trying to reach with the gospel. Often spirits come against him, appearing as grotesque figures, attempting to hinder his presence in that city and his plans for evangelization. Often they’ll say, “You do not have a right to be here, this is my territory.” To which he answers, “On the contrary, you don’t have a right to be here. I bind you by the authority of Jesus Christ who has all the authority in heaven and on earth”. Immediately the spirit leaves and frequently a higher principality is sent against Cabrera. In the same manner, through prayer, Cabrera breaks the yoke of the principality, which often is a spirit of witchcraft. When the strong man is bound, the mood of the whole city changes. Frequently, resistance to the gospel is replaced with receptivity and hundreds of thousands come to Christ with many signs and wonders taking place. By binding the strong man, Cabrera’s congregation has grown from about twenty to being one of the largest congregations in the world, numbering over 140,000 members.
Though Cabrera’s experience may seem strange to us, we would do well to apply what other Christians are learning in frontier missions, regarding battles won in prayer. During my travels, the subject of spiritual warfare always comes up when I’m conducting seminars on missionary strategies to Christians. I’m convinced that unless we identify and bind the strong man in places we want to reach with the gospel, our strategies and efforts will amount to nothing. We will not receive an answer to our prayers unless we bind the strong man.
In my travels through Latin America and Southeast Asia, I’ve realized that when the term ‘spiritual mapping’ is used, many are perplexed because it is not used, as such, in the Bible. Yet, when it is defined, it can be easily seen in many passages of the Old and New Testaments. Often the Bible speaks of the conflicts of cosmic forces, of the reality of the spiritual realm, of the importance of spiritual warfare, of the necessity to identify the enemy’s camp, of the existence of celestial and demonic beings and their influence in our lives and destiny.
In conclusion, spiritual mapping allows us to discern and prepare strategies for spiritual warfare. We must enter into it through prayer and fasting to weaken the enemy’s strongholds and open spiritual doors for evangelism. According to George Otis Jr., Spiritual mapping must answer these questions:
1. What problems are occurring?
2. What are the reasons for these problems?
3. What can we do to change the situation?
Spiritual Cartography (Mapping) and the Taking of a City
In the book of Acts, we find a clear passage on the importance of spiritual mapping and its relevancy to seizing a city given over to idolatry and human philosophies. While Paul is in Athens waiting for his friends, Timothy and Silas, he was able to thoroughly observe the city. He visited the market places, conversed with philosophers and studied their writings. With a burden in his heart, he presents himself “in the midst of the Areopagus” and said:
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To the Unknown God’. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:” Acts 17:22-23
For more information on Spiritual Cartography you can obtain our book PULLING DOWN STRONGHOLDS. Available through Amazon.com or hectortorres.org
I also recommend the book INFORMED INTERCESSION by George Otis Jr. Renew Publications.