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FIGHTING THE DEVIL IN PRAYER
(SERMON #16 ON REVIVAL)
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Now tonight I’m going to speak on “Fighting the Devil in Prayer.” I want you to open your Bible to the tenth chapter of Daniel. It’s page 916 in the Scofield Study Bible. Listen as I read Daniel 10:12-13, and verse 20. There’s a lot of stuff in those verses. My long-time pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, often taught on this passage. He was an expert on the Old Testament. He taught Old Testament Hebrew and Aramaic at Bob Jones University, and at Talbot Seminary – and was later the president of a seminary in Taiwan. Dr. Lin often used this passage to show our conflict with Satan and demons when we pray. Listen to those verses, 12 and 13.
“Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia” (Daniel 10:12, 13).
Now look at verse 20.
“Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come” (Daniel 10:20).
You may be seated.
The simplest and clearest explanation I have read is from Billy Graham, in his extremely popular book called Angels: God’s Secret Agents (Doubleday and Company, 1975, pp. 73-75). This is one of Billy Graham’s best books. I don’t agree with Billy Graham on some issues, but he was right when he wrote this book. Here is what he said about Daniel’s experience:
In the Old Testament, Daniel vividly describes the conflict between the angelic forces of God and the opposing demons of darkness. Before the angel came to him [Daniel] had spent three weeks [fasting and praying]...As he stood by the Tigris River, a man appeared clothed in linen...
Daniel alone saw the vision. The men who were with him did not. Yet a great dread came upon them, and they ran away to hide. Daniel’s strength departed from him, so great was the effect of the personage on him.
Daniel [fell into] a great sleep, yet he heard the voice of the angel...The angel had started to come to Daniel from the moment he began to pray, but [on the way] was waylaid by a demon prince who engaged him in conflict and delayed him. [After three weeks] Michael [the Archangel] came to help this subordinate angel, freeing him to [answer Daniel’s prayer]...
Having finished his mission, the angel told Daniel he was returning to fight with the demon prince in the unending struggle of the forces of good versus the forces of evil...
[Daniel] had pleaded with God for the sons of Israel. His prayer session, accompanied by fasting, had lasted three weeks. At that moment he received the news from the “angel visitor” sent from heaven that his prayer had been heard. This incident makes it clear that delays are not denials and that God’s permissive will is involved in all of life (Billy Graham, D.D., Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Doubleday and Company, 1975, pp. 74, 75).
The Apostle Paul said that we are in a battle with the demonic forces of Satan. Mr. Prudhomme read this passage at the beginning of the service.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
And then he said,
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
I will give you some comments by Dr. J. Vernon McGee on that passage of Scripture. Dr. McGee said,
The enemy whom the Christian is to fight is not flesh and blood. The enemy is spiritual. That is why we need spiritual power...
We are in a spiritual battle. The Devil has in battle array his minions arranged by ranks. It says that we wrestle against them. This speaks of the hand-to-hand encounter with the spiritual forces of wickedness. The translation...should actually read, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness [and these are all spiritual], against the spiritual hosts of evil in the heavenly places.” This is our warfare, and it’s in progress now. There is a demonic world around us and it is manifesting itself at the present hour...People are being ensnared and led into all kinds of demonism. There are spiritual forces working in the world, evil forces working against the church. They are working against the believer, against God, against Christ...
We have said that these powers are organized. Principalities are the demons who have the oversight of nations. They would correspond to the rank of generals...
I believe that America itself is under a demonic cloud. The “demons who have oversight of [our] nation” are demons connected with materialism and spiritual blindness. We have three-day weekends all Spring. People run here and there – to Las Vegas, to San Francisco, you name it! They seem to be driven by Satanic forces – seeking “fun” and excitement. They have no time for church. They have no time for prayer. They have no time for God.
As I flip through the channels on television I am shocked to see the blood, the murder, the vampires, the insanity, young women dressed like whores, young men taking drugs, every imaginable sexual perversion. I’m an old man. I’ve been around for nearly three quarters of a century. This is something new! They are making beer in college! This is something that would have “blown me away,” shocked me to the core, back in the 1950s! America is now controlled, from the White House to the schoolhouse, with the demonic power of materialism, Darwinism, Satanism, and all that goes with it! You get a young person to come to church and their “friends” try to pull them away! Even their parents often do that! This is new. I never saw it like this when I was a boy! Even President Obama seems to be under a demonic cloud. It’s over his head. He’s confused. He doesn’t seem to know what to do about ISIS, about Israel, about the gangs that riot in places like Ferguson. It’s over his head! The preachers don’t know what to do either. Three major preachers have “retired” in the last few days. They are all fairly young men. One preacher told me, “I can’t take it anymore. No one listens to me.” Even when someone stays in church, it seems almost impossible for them to trust Jesus. They have the world-spirit. They want to feel a thrill, they want to feel something beyond normal Christianity. They can’t seem to be satisfied by simply trusting Jesus – and getting on with the Christian life. Nothing satisfies them. It’s a miracle that we have this church! It’s a miracle that these sermons go out on the Internet to thousands of people in thirty languages! Dr. McGee went on to say,
Powers are the privates who are demons waiting to possess human beings. The rulers of darkness of this world are those demons who have charge of Satan’s worldly business. Spiritual wickedness in high places are the demons in the heavenlies who have charge of religion...
Have you looked at so-called “Christian” TV lately? It’s demonic – almost all of it. No further comment. None needed! It’s “trash” religion. Our churches aren’t much better. The Sunday evening services are closed. Every church had an evening service fifty years ago! I know! I was there! Now everybody is too tired. Too tired? My great-grandfather got up at 4:00 in the morning and milked two cows before he went to work in a lead mine for 12 hours each day. He came out of that hole in the ground, went home, milked the two cows again – and then went to the Methodist chapel to lead the music and sing at the top of his lungs! But now people are “too tired” to come on Sunday night! I believe there’s a demon at work – maybe you could call it the “demon of tiredness.” They certainly aren’t physically tired! It has to be spiritual. It has to be Satanic!
I was looking at a photograph of my great-grandfather, John Hymers, as I prepared this sermon. They had revivals break out regularly back then. When was the last time you heard about a revival coming down from God? Have you ever seen one? The Old-School Protestants and Baptists saw God send down revival about every ten years. Where do you think the Baptists came from? Where do you think the Presbyterians and Methodists came from? They came from the fires of revival – sent from God, before Finney and his minions ruined evangelism and poisoned the churches! Now they meet for one hour on Sunday morning, as cold and dead and powerless as a rotting corpse! Yes, that includes Fuller Theological Seminary, here in Pasadena. All they can turn out is a “nut” like Rob Bell, who went on Oprah’s show a few days ago and said the Bible is wrong, and supported sex perversion. That’s the kind of brain-dead preachers Fuller and other seminaries are turning out! As Dr. McGee said, “Spiritual wickedness in high places are the demons in the heavenlies who are in charge of religion”... “We have the enemy located and identified. That enemy is spiritual. It is Satan who heads up his demonic forces. Now we need to recognize where the battle is. I think the church has largely lost sight of the spiritual battle” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume V, p. 280, comments on Ephesians 6:12).
That’s what we are up against! And we don’t have the power in ourselves to overcome it. At the very end of that description of Satan and demons, the Apostle said,
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).
We are up against Satan himself! Dr. McGee said that our “weapon of offense is prayer...It means that you and I recognize our enemy and that we lay hold of God [in prayer]...Paul here distinguishes between prayer and supplication. Prayer is general; supplication is specific. All effective prayer must be in the Spirit” (ibid., p. 283; comment on Ephesians 6:18).
Here we are tonight, in church, in the very heart of downtown Los Angeles. Preachers call this the “graveyard of churches.” But here we are, nearly all of us. All of our members! Why are we still here? We are here because God answers prayer. We have two main prayer meetings every week. All we do is pray. That is why we are here. There is no other reason!
Some of you are gathering together to pray for revival. Keep at it! Don’t give up! Daniel had to pray for weeks before the answer came. Don’t expect God to pour out His Spirit after a few days. Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). We have not had a revival in downtown Los Angeles for over 100 years. The situation is much worse today! It is going to take strong prayer, continual prayer, even daily prayer – if we expect God to pour out His Spirit in real revival, in real conversions, in real pre-Finney, Old-School revival!
Dr. John R. Rice was a man of prayer. He saw many miracles happen in answer to prayer. Dr. Rice said, “It is certainly fair to say that the disciples prayed through. Acts 1:14 says, ‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren’...Yes, the Disciples prayed through, it seems, for fifty days before God poured out His Spirit in the first great revival.” Dr. Rice said, “When we speak of ‘praying through’ think of one who is already a Christian taking his burdens to God and waiting until he gets the answer to his prayers” (John R. Rice, D.D., Prayer – Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1970 edition, p. 199). Mr. Griffith sang about “Praying Through” before this sermon.
Did you pray it through till the answer came?
There’s a promise true for your faith to claim;
At the place of prayer Jesus waits for you.
Did you meet Him there, did you pray it through?
(“Have You Prayed It Through?” by Rev. W. C. Poole, 1915).
Listen to Marie Monsen, an early missionary to China. There was no revival in China then. The missionary work was hard, and very few Chinese were converted. Then Miss Monsen said,
The first ray of light on this problem came to me when we heard of the revival in Korea, which began in 1907. It was a mighty movement and had been born through a prayer-revival among missionaries. Oh, to be able to go there and bring back some glowing coals to our own field! But the journey was long and expensive and I had not the money. As I prayed for money and looked for an answer, a definite word was sent instead: “What you want through that journey may be given here, where you are, in answer to prayer.” The words were a tremendous challenge. I gave my solemn promise: “Then I will pray until I receive.”
I set out to cross the floor of my room to my place of prayer, in order to pray this prayer for revival for the first time. I had not taken more than two or three steps before I was halted. What then happened can only be described as follows: it was as though a boa constrictor had wound its coils round my body and was squeezing the life out of me. I was terrified. Finally, while gasping for breath, I managed to utter one word, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” Each time I groaned out the precious Name, it grew easier to breathe, and in the end the “serpent” left me. I stood there dazed. The first conscious thought was: “Then prayer means as much as that, and that my promise should be kept [to pray through] means as much as that.”
That experience helped me to endure through almost twenty years which were to pass before the first small beginnings of revival were visible (Marie Monsen, The Awakening: Revival in China 1927-1937, Strategic Press, n.d., pp. 7, 8).
Today, nearly a hundred years later, the prayers of that little Norwegian missionary have blossomed into over 150 million Chinese Christians – in the greatest revival in history.
In April it will be forty years since the beginning of this church in my small apartment in Westwood, near UCLA. From the first prayer meeting we have prayed for revival. Many times the “serpent” has choked us until we nearly gave up. I cannot take time to tell you of the horrible twists and turns we have been through, the fears, the heartaches, the pains. But I believe tonight we are forty years closer to revival than we were on that morning in 1975 when Mr. John Cook and I first met together and began to pray for an outpouring of God’s Spirit. I have just one word to say to you as I end this sermon – “don’t stop now!” When others are leading in prayer, strain to follow them and say “Amen.” When you do, their prayer becomes yours. Don’t let the “serpent” stop you! Amen.
(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Ephesians 6:10-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Have You Prayed It Through?” (by W. C. Poole, 1915).