Praying for Revival in the Midst of War
It should come as no surprise that the world we live in, two thousand years further into the End Times than when the Church began and these times were prophesied, is full of strife and violence. War is everywhere. There are wars of words, family wars, race wars, tribal wars, political battles, class wars, and, on the front burners of our hearts and minds, the war in Ukraine.
Jesus prophesied that the End Times would be full of wars and rumors of war that would “menace your peace” (Matthew 24:6). He knew what was in the heart of man and foresaw that man would become ever more loveless and violent as time passed.
Violence, on a spectrum that runs from preschool squabbles over who gets to play in the sandbox all the way to vicious wars full of oppression, death, and destruction all come from the same source: they are rooted in man’s sinful nature – the urge we carry to be our own god at the expense of others – and fanned into flame by the forces of darkness. The Psalmist Asaph, one of King David’s chief musicians, writes in Psalm 73:6 that “pride is their necklace, violence covers them as a garment.” A millennium later, the Apostle Paul elaborates on that in Galatians 5:19 and says that enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, and divisions are all works of the flesh. It seems that man’s sinful nature, disobedience to God, and hatred for Christ are quickly rising in intensity as the gospel is being spread to every tribe and nation and our world history climaxes into final battles leading to the defeat of Satan and his evil forces.
That final triumph over evil, and the destructive strife and wars it constantly generates, is guaranteed as Christ triumphed over Satan’s dominion on the cross (Colossians 2:15). The outcome is certain, but the process is still unfolding. Some have likened it to living between D-day and V-day in World War II. The decision to crush the evil Nazi empire was put into motion on D-day when the forces of good landed in Normandy and the island chains of the Pacific. But the final victory did not come till almost a year later when the remaining military aggressors signed their surrender papers and peace was restored.
Violence and war are, of course, not merely a matter of flesh and blood. Ever since the creation of man, Satan has stirred up division, strife, and violence between human beings. We know from Daniel 10 that there was a “prince of Persia” with whom a messenger angel fought for 21 days, and that he was to be followed by the “prince of Greece.” Both were violent nations, given to war and brutal conquest. It has become evident from history that most kings and dictators with a despotic nature were into some form of pagan worship and occultism that they believed would empower them in the subjugation of nations around them and the creation of an empire, which draws a clear link between the demonic and their aggression. The apostle Paul invokes a war analogy in Ephesians 6:10-12: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Violence hurts, both emotionally and physically. War, as the worst expression of violence, hurts acutely and intensely. It kills, destroys, oppresses, and wounds the souls of many of its survivors almost beyond the human capacity to heal. It can be difficult to sustain faith in the Prince of Peace when all you see and feel is pain, death, and destruction. Conversely, war has the capacity to galvanize the spirit of a nation to the point of sacrifice, step over differences, disagreements, and feuds and tap into reserves of resilience and courage that lay dormant in times of peace to defend itself against invaders.
The horror of war begs the question: What is God’s purpose for good in this? The answer to this lies, I think, in understanding the purpose behind all this violence: the wars of flesh and blood are ultimately expressions of the spiritual war over the souls of man. For thousands of years Satan has sought to keep the only beings created for a relationship with God from having a relationship with God. The lie he seeks to spread through wars is that there is no God, because a God who claims to be good and loving would not allow this kind of suffering.
But he cannot stop the truth of the gospel from spreading into the hearts of people made desperate for hope by the suffering of war. That truth is that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, offers reconciliation and relationship leading to an immediate, imperishable, and eternal peace in the hearts of man amidst the suffering and turmoil that nations inflict upon each other. War and suffering are designed to crush joy and peace in people’s hearts. The gospel of Jesus is designed to restore us for all eternity. God’s intent is to use what Satan intended for bad and use it for good. War brings people to the end of self-sufficiency and face to face with their fragility, which brings many to the point of realizing their need for a higher power to help them bear what they cannot bear themselves. And God rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrew 11:6). Thus, amid war, the ingathering of a people of His own possession, called from darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) continues and even accelerates.
That is revival. Revival occurs when dead spirits are brought to life, and often, it comes on the heels of suffering. It seems that the comforts of the world must be destroyed, and people be brought to despair, for them to thirstily seek Him. And God responds to thirsty hearts. When they cry out, He floods their hearts and souls with light, love, peace, joy, and strength above understanding. He offers the best He can offer: Himself. Even when physical pain and suffering does not end, the gift of His presence, love and understanding, as a high priest familiar with human frailty (Hebrews 4:15).
We must, of course, pray for an end to war – for the innocent to be protected, comforted, and provided for in their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs; for the hosts of heaven to come against the forces of evil and restore peace. But we may also pray with confidence for spiritual revival to come in the midst of battle. For Satan to be defeated in his war against humanity and for his dominion over the souls of man to be broken.
We are encouraged to pray that way for Ukraine by a number of prophecies given over the nation several years ago, well before there was even a rumor of war. The late Kim Clement gave a specific prophecy in 2014 that appears to accurately foretell what is happening now, including God’s plan for a revival in Eastern Europe coming out of Ukraine. Some Ukrainian pastors have referred to similar prophecies given several years ago.
This brings us to the heart of the matter: bringing the garment of praise against the garment of violence when praying for revival in Ukraine, and, for that matter, anywhere else where there is war or the threat of war.
In his daily Ukraine updates, pastor Peter Oswalt of Arise: Life frequently exhorts us to pray from a position of victory, hope, and worship – not from a place of doom and gloom that is painted by the sensationalizing mainstream media. I couldn’t agree more.
All our kingdom-oriented prayer is to be modeled on how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6. That entire pattern, which we know and love as “the Lord’s Prayer” is sandwiched between declarations of praise – “hallowed be your name” at the beginning, and “yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever” at the end (Matthew 6:9-13 plus footnotes). Praise affirms and builds our faith. Praise lends strength to our prayers and causes the enemy to flee. Praise proclaims the reality of God’s victory over darkness. It doesn’t deny the reality of a grave situation, but rather it adheres greater power to the One for Whom no grave situation is too difficult, and it embraces His will to be done in any situation. Praise turns the battle over to the Lord. It repeats what Israel was commanded to do at Jericho: rather than encircle the city in violence, to encircle the city in garments of praise (Joshua 6).
Therefore, our best offense against the spiritual battle that is playing out behind the war is to counter the garments of violence with the garments of praise. To pray from the victory we share in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14) as we are seated in Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
- Praise Him who turns what Satan meant for evil to good.
- Praise Him that His mission to gather for Himself a people of His own possession is unstoppable.
- Praise Him that neither war, nor lies, nor fear, nor suffering, nor Satan’s attacks upon the human spirit can stop His kingdom from coming into the hearts of men.
- Praise Him that the evidence of miraculous interventions in the war, strengthening of the church, and the gospel being preached like never before, are more and more visible and prevalent.
- Praise Him that His heart is for the salvation of man (1 Timothy 2:4), that He hears the cry of the righteous for help and near the brokenhearted and downtrodden (Psalm 34:17,18).
God brings revival where there is no worship, so:
- Pray for the church in Ukraine and surrounding countries to be steadfast in prayer and praise, and to be beacons of the light of the gospel of peace to the victims of the war that are in despair.
- Pray for revival to come to, and through, the 3.5 million refugees that are streaming into Europe, and to the millions left behind, as well as to Ukrainian and Russian troops who are themselves victims of this war.
- Pray that the economic suffering that has come upon Russia will ignite a new movement of united prayer among God’s people, and lead to revival in Russia.
- Pray for unity of prayer, love, and mutual aid to flow between Russian and Ukrainian believers that will utterly defeat Satan’s efforts to cause division and strife.
“Father, we praise you. You sit upon your Throne in Heaven and accomplish Your purposes in ways that are greater and higher for us to understand on this side of heaven. But today we stand together with our brothers and sister in Ukraine, Russia, and other places where violence, war, and suppression of freedom rage, and declare that Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, and that Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. We affirm our steadfast faith that out of your desire that none should perish, the drive to bring the gospel to every tribe and nation and gather for Yourself a people of Your own possession continues. Out of that place of praise and affirmation of faith we pray for revival to come, and for Your kingdom to advance in the hearts of men, women and children through repentance of sin and surrender to the Lordship of the Prince of Peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
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