Prayer in Strategic Spiritual Warfare

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

Abstract: Prayer for governments, communities and families.

The following question was asked by a reader of this website:

“I found your site through a cross-reference on the Transformations video, which I watched and thought was great until I found Ruth Ruibal’s site and read about her continuing problems in Cali. I have since read several other pages. There is one thing I am still not certain of: Where does praying for nations, or cities, become unscriptural? I mean, where does spiritual warfare for nations move from what we should do (pray for one another) to what you clearly believe is something unscriptural? When I pray for the families in my suburb, or city, surely that is OK?”


We are indeed called upon to pray for governments, and therefore also for countries and communities (1 Tim. 2:1-2), that some may be saved. However, we are nowhere given a mandate to take over governments, countries, cities or towns on behalf of the kingdom of God. Neither has the authority and power been assigned to us to pull down demonic strongholds over territories. (In the article on spiritual warfare in my website you will notice that the pulling down of strongholds has a personal application – not nation-wide in a collective sense!).

In the present dispensation we live in a world that lies in the sway of the Evil One (1 Jn. 5:19). In a spiritual sense, the wheat and the tares grow together in the same land and are therefore intermingled in all parts of the world. The predominance of the tares (the vast majority of the people who are on the broad way leading to hell) accounts for the fact that the Christians are strangers and pilgrims in an evil world. Since the true Christians are always a minority they can easily be criticised, oppressed and rejected by the unsaved and worldly-minded people. Christ warned us that the world will hate us and that we would have tribulation here (Jn. 15:19; 16:33).

This situation will prevail until the second coming of Jesus. Only then will the world-wide satanic strongholds be pulled down by the condemnation and destruction of the Antichrist, the false prophet and their accomplices, and the binding of Satan (Rev. 19:19 - 20:3). When the devil has been shut up and sealed so that he should deceive the nations no more (Rev. 20:3), the countries and kingdoms of the world will, in their entirety, be taken over by the kingdom of God:

"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Rev. 11:15).

People with a kingdom-now vision attempt to break the power of the devil and to take over territories and communities before the coming of the King. These are vain efforts, regardless of how positive and challenging they may seem to be. The whole idea of strategic spiritual warfare championed by Otis and Wagner is a misconception which leads to the wasting of spiritual and physical energy, time and money. Substantial results will only be achieved if these efforts are directed at supporting evangelical missionaries in the targeted areas. Although nothing dramatic will happen in the sense of taking over territories and the destroying of enemy strongholds such as false religions in entire communities, precious souls will at least be saved. That is still our mission until the Lord comes!

The ill-conceived and misdirected efforts of Otis and Wagner are at presented vigorously implemented in South Africa (and other African countries) by ministries such as NUPSA and Herald Ministry.

Jenny Graham of Herald Ministry reports about a recent prayer journey to Zanzibar. She says: "We addressed, in the Spirit, the actions of the government in leadership both in the past and present... In faith, we cancelled in the Spirit the cause of bloodguilt on that piece of land..." She says that the week of their visit to Zanzibar coincided with political unrest and rioting. However, after they left, more rioting and bloodshed occurred on the Island. Obviously, the demonic powers were still operational.

Jenny erroneously acts on a promise made to Joshua concerning the land of Israel, namely that the Lord will give him every place where he sets his foot (Joshua 1:3). This promise was never extended to the New Testament Church. If that was the case, the world would long ago have been conquered and taken over by the Christians. Paul, for one, did not take over the cities where he preached – neither did he pull down demonic strongholds. More often than not, he was persecuted and even jailed where he preached.

Furthermore, Jenny says that we can, in terms of Psalm 2:8, ask God for the nations as our inheritance. Psalm 2:6-9 refers to the Kingdom of Christ after His second coming. He will then set up His throne in Jerusalem and rule the nations with a rod of iron. In that coming kingdom we will also rule the nations with Christ (Rev. 2:25-27; 20:6).

However, that kingdom will only be manifested after the coming of the King. We are very presumptuous and actually exalt ourselves against the clear teaching of Scripture if we claim and act on promises that were never meant for the church dispensation. Disappointment and disillusionment awaits those who follow this course.

We cannot break the power of Satan over communities. His power can only be broken in the lives of individuals who have been evangelised en confessed their sins to the Lord. Even when we evangelise intensively, the majority of the people will probably not even attend the services and resist the Gospel message: "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (Jn. 3:19).

The world is now heading for a time of great apostasy and falling-away from the truth. A solution to these problems is not a false revival or futile attempts do dethrone the "god of this world" (Satan - 2 Cor. 4:4) outside Christianity, or by setting unsaved communities free from spiritual bondage without salvation. How can Zanzibar, South Africa or any other country become Christian before the majority of people turn from their wicked ways and are spiritually born again? To realise this ideal, intensive evangelistic campaigns must be embarked upon – rather than prayer walks aimed at strategic spiritual warfare. Christ has come to destroy the works of the devil in the hearts and lives of those who repent from their sins and turn to Him for salvation – not in cities or countries with wicked, unsaved inhabitants. He came to "deliver us from this present evil world" (Gal. 1:4), but outside of His saved ones the world will remain an evil place, and become even more evil, until He comes to pull down the enemy strongholds and to rule the world.

A correct prophetic perspective does not allow for kingdom-now visions and actions. People who insist on realising kingdom-now visions expose themselves to great deception. The devil diverts their attention from the real issues to areas where they achieve little or nothing at all.

We must keep on praying for people to be saved, and also to be protected against the devil. When the Lord comes back as King of Kings, He will bring His reward with Him to give to everyone according to his work (Rev. 22:12). Then only we will inherit the world in which we are presently despised as strangers and pilgrims who are on their way to the City of the Great King.