I Prayed have prayed
Lord, conform us into the image of Jesus. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might overcome violence through the presence of the Prince of Peace.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

She was climbing the stairs out of a New York City subway station, leaning on her cane. She and a man became engaged in an argument, and words spun out of control; he wrenched her cane from her and then used it to beat her viciously about the head and body, for some three minutes. (We know the beating lasted that long, because it was filmed — though no one intervened.)

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A Frontier Airlines flight was forced to land 700 miles from its destination because of a fistfight that broke out onboard between two female passengers.

A father in Maryland was beaten to death by two adults and three teens who were seeking his 14-year-old son after a schoolyard dispute over $30.

These are just three of the all-too-many incidents of brutality that have scrolled across news screens in the summer of 2023.

Some started with a verbal assault or a bump while passing in an aisle, but quickly escalated into outsized rage resulting in a maiming or even death. Distressingly, much of the violence is launched by small groups of two or three people who pile on a single victim. Even as I write this, an aggressive driver has shot a couple because he wanted their parking spot at a Home Depot in Brooklyn, N.Y., while another couple knifed a man outside a Whole Foods store on New York City’s East Side of Manhattan.

Ironically, in New York City, where I live, some crime statistics have fallen from 2022. But across America, crime rates still outstrip pre-pandemic levels. In New York City, a small but telling poll reports that more than 40% believe crime is the worst it has ever been.

New Yorkers are not the only ones fearing increased crime. Across the nation, perceptions of danger are increasing. Depending upon who you talk to, the reasons cited range from increased numbers of violent perpetrators, to the availability of guns, to “stand your ground” laws, to sensational media coverage of violent episodes. Often the cited causes are split along political party lines.

My husband, Rich, also a contributing writer for IFA, and I live not far from Times Square, which is usually filled with a dizzying array of tourists traveling haplessly among mentally ill drug addicts, professional criminals deploying children to pickpocket, and gang members waving guns around. As an intercessor, I am particularly sensitive to spiritual influences as well — demonic spirits of fear and violence are thick in the spiritual atmosphere here. Undergirding all of the evil is a great idolatry of self. The love of self is more than a sin; at its worst, it is a demonic dominion of considerable power.

Clearly, we have a call to war against the demonic entities we discern. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I regularly bind, gag, cripple, blind, and render unable to operate all demonic spirits, dominions, and principalities of fear, violence, hatred, malice, and whatever others the Lord may bring to my mind. I complete the work by casting all such spirits into the abyss, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by asking the Lord to fill all the vacated spaces with His Holy Spirit.

Additionally, I often ask the Lord to dispatch angels to secure the ground and to continue the battle as other demons struggle to regain the lost territory. Because the battle is the Lord’s, I know this warfare is effective.

But “pre-believers” are constantly walking through our world, carrying their sin, fear, and expressions of violence. Because they do not yet know the Lord, they are helpless against these forces. Their sin opens the door to the devil, granting permission for evil to operate. When you have millions in this condition, you have a spiritual morass — a true “sin city” and Satan’s playground.

In the face of this, I have been tempted to feel that the battle is futile. Instead, though, I have turned to the Lord and asked Him for His strategy to overcome this spirit of violence we are seeing in America.

“Please, Lord,” I’ve begged. “Give us an effective strategy.”

Never one for a half-way solution, the Lord has directed me to a somewhat surprising passage of scripture: John 12:20–26. In prayer, the Lord made clear that He was emphasizing the question the gentile Greeks had brought to the disciple Philip” “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Here’s the full passage:

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

This passage comes at a critical point in John’s Gospel: Jesus has entered Jerusalem for the Passover feast that will precede the events of His passion week. He was met with acclaim and rejoicing by those gathered for the celebration.

This incident of Greek gentiles wanting to meet with Jesus marks a turning point in His ministry. His salvation ministry will now reach beyond the Hebrew people, out to the entire world. Accordingly, then, Jesus begins to speak of the violence He will endure in order to secure eternal life for all who will receive Him as Lord and Savior.

Life for millions will spring from that violence — a brutal death on the cross.

Jesus uses the powerful agrarian example of the wheat seed to create a word picture of how the Lord will redeem a world of violence.

The Greek word psyche, translated into English as “life” in the passage above, embraces body, soul, “self,” if you will. Jesus is calling His own people to put their “self” to death. The love of self is what spawns sin — and the excessive  response to other people’s offenses against us. Genesis 4:23 shows this clearly: Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.”

Lamech suffers, as do all unredeemed people, from a fatal focus on his own welfare, his own desires, his own will. Only the destruction — the death — of self can free Lamech and others from the prison of self-focus. And that death is achieved by joining Jesus in His death.

This is where Jesus calls His disciples and intercessors. We must follow Him out of the self, through the cross, and into His resurrection life. This process, painful and slow, is in my view wondrous. We crucify ourselves and our idolatry of self and receive instead the abundant life of Jesus Christ. We join in His life more freely, more completely as we yield up our desires, our choices, our wills to the Holy One.

When the Lord pointed me to this scripture as heaven’s response to the spirit of violence, I admit that I struggled. I sort of wanted to present to the IFA intercessors a three-point prayer plan: bing, bang, bong.

Instead, our call is higher.

We have the opportunity not just to say the prayer, but to be the prayer. We are invited into the messy but effective strategy the Lord Himself used to redeem violence. As John the Baptist said of Jesus and himself, respectively: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The Lord is calling us to show the violent, the lost, the self-absorbed ones Jesus in us. They must see Jesus’ compassion in us, and experience the presence of the living God through us.

Join me in praying now:

Father, we lay down our selves before the cross. We desire to enter into Jesus’ death and to be raised once again with Him. Let us bear much lasting fruit. We choose Your plan — which is more thorough, more effective — to eliminate the violence of self and sin. We will do the warfare, binding in the name of Jesus the spirits of violence and toppling the principality of “self” from America. All these we consign to the abyss, in Jesus’ name. Fill all resulting vacancies with Your Holy Spirit. But victory over violence is won by the cross; bring Your warriors forth to exchange their “selves” for Jesus’ life. In Jesus’ name. Amen and amen.

Post your own prayer of surrender below.

New York City–based Joyce Swingle is an intercessor and a contributing writer for IFA. With her husband, Rich, also a contributing writer for IFA, Joyce shares the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world through theater, speaking, writing, and film. Prior to going into full-time ministry, Joyce worked for about 20 major magazines and now works in pastoral ministry and Christian counseling. Read more about Joyce’s work at www.Richdrama.com. Photo Credit: Maxim Hopman on Unsplash.

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Kathy Emahiser
September 21, 2023

Father, we come against the darkness that’s rising in this nation and release the light of your glory. Please open the eyes of those who are blinded by the deception and evil plots of satan. Touch their hearts with your truth and open their eyes. Continue to send laborers across their paths that will boldly speak your truth and convey to them how much you love them and want them set free of this deception and blindness. We bind those evil demonic spirits and command them to loose those that have been trapped in their webbs.

Grant Windholz
September 15, 2023

Lord God Almighty, help this lost country cast our eyes on you and transform our hearts to be humble towards you our creator. We as believers know that settling issues with violence creates huge displeasure for our Savior!

Grant Windholz
September 13, 2023

Lord God Almighty, let us humble ourselves and conform us into the image of Jesus! So many Americans are broken and completely lost. Spiritual warfare is very intense and always will be until you save believers you know as your children of God. As servants, help others come to Jesus before it’s too late!

Vivian Ott
September 13, 2023

Thank you for some ‘good wording’ to use in prayer!!

Sue Tracy
September 12, 2023

Lord You are The one who was the one who is the one who always will be; we give you all the praise you deserve. Lord help us to keep our eyes on you and not our circumstances.. You Lord always are the victor in every battle we face. Lord you know everything and exactly what was spoken, Father bring good from our current situation and align it with your perfect purpose for our nation. Weed out all lies and those who have chosen deception over truth. Let righteousness and justice lead the way. Close doors only you can and open doors that only you can open. God make America great again. You have the final say in every battle we face. We love and praise you for you get the glory. Thank you that the price was paid when you gave your Son Jesus. Thank you we can pray with confidence because of the blood shed on cross. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray. Come redeem and restore our nation and set things right. We give you all the praise and glory for all you will do. on behalf of our country. Amen

September 12, 2023

Father GOD, teach us the value of humanity because we are each made in your image. Teach those who are called by Your Name to live as Jesus lived, and how your LAW= TORAH instruct us. Bring us back to ACTIVELY OBEYING the WORD of God, the Word which brings LIFE. May we die to selfish desires and vanity in order to be conduits of Your love. Repentance must start in the CHURCH so that Your LIGHT might be brought out from under the religious bushel.

Darlene Estlow
September 12, 2023

Father, may I be the answer. May I point people to you. May your love be evident through me.

September 12, 2023

Lord Jesus, let it begin with me. Please purify all of my actions toward others in thought, word, and deed. Give me the constant awareness and conviction that this matters and affects the greater good of the whole. I profess that each decision I make is important in this battle against self.

Richard Simmons
September 12, 2023

I went into law enforcement in the 1960’s-1980’s!
Law enforcement officers, men and Women were shepherds. Civilians were sheep. And criminals were predators. It was our job to keep the predators from the sheep. We were able to engage the predators to protect the sheep. Now that’s changed. Now a officer who confronts a predator is more likely to go to jail than the predator.

But God!

Has given us protection under his wings. We pray before we head out in the morning we asked the Lord to guide our steps each day. The Holy Spirit will be with us everywhere we go. We keep from being singled out ,because a lone person often becomes a target for an adversary. Stay in groups of four more. If you have to be alone and you feel uncomfortable in the setting run to the nearest populated area. Because if you feel unsafe you are unsafe.

God gave us a great weapon it sits on our shoulders and we think with it. Engage in thought that’s what the Lord would have you do in all situations, then you’ll act accordingly.

God bless be safe

    September 12, 2023

    Thank you for sound wisdom-, especially from a soldier’s experience in wisdom, that was forged in the field of battle.

    Mary Beth
    September 12, 2023

    Thank you, Richard for your service. We pray consistently for law enforcement officers, and emergency response personnel. We are so thankful for both, and ask the LORD to protect, shield, guide/direct, and bless them.

Ron Glenn Deere
September 12, 2023

It is written that there will be two witnesses in the not so distant future. They will be killed, but 3.5 days later, they will be raised up [Rev 11:11]. I have been praying for those who have been killed in the course of persecution to be raised up 3.5 days later so as to continue to minister Christ in THESE days.

Christine Stott
September 12, 2023

Oh Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for warning us to be more conscious of how we treat others, please help all the people who are experiencing such intense rage anger and hatred, please refrain them from causing harm to others.

Rich Swingle
September 12, 2023

On today’s Headline Prayer Live (www.IFApray.org/watch) I’m planning to mention this article linking media and a rise in violence: https://web.archive.org/web/20130502051723/http://www.killology.org/print/print_teachkid.htm

September 12, 2023

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13;14. “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another…” Colossians 3;12 “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His Glory is revealed.” 1 Peter:4:13 Help us Lord Jesus to respond to the violent with Your Love and to PRAY without ceasing and Love You more deeply with each passing day. In Your Glorious, Steadfast Love I pray. Amen

Brian Lynch
September 12, 2023

Violence of any form is unaceptable in our society especially when we serve the Prince of Peace. Lord Jesus, by Your grace and mercy, bring ALL types of violence in our world to an end. Thank You, Lord.

Michael Lampard
September 12, 2023

Fantastic ‘take’ on the issues of violence in both the US and UK. Very salutary and instructive. I have prayed the prayer above in application to my own walk with the Lord, and for both our nation UK.
Be very blest.

Mike W
September 12, 2023

Good word. By His grace. With His strength. By His power. We are not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. We let our light shine in the darkness, so others can glorify Him, turn from the darkness to Him. It is not about self, but self replication. As He is, so are we, in this end time harvest.

Lori Meed
September 12, 2023

And we repent, Father of Lights, for the sin of violence in the church. We repent for the wickedness of the crusades, for violent antisemitism throughout church history, for excessive violence in church practices, for covering up and rationalizing violence through religion. Forgive us for we knew not what we did. Forgive us for not being Christlike in all of our dealings with other people, people groups and nations. Cleanse this land of violence as we as cleansed and live for You! Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
Isaiah 60:18 NLT

Lisa Graham
September 12, 2023

What a powerful read! Thank you for sharing this. I am in agreement with my sister in Jesus.
Help me Lord, to war against evil in prayer when I should, and how I should. Help all believers to do this. By Your Spirit, let victory over violence win!
Help me to become less, and for You to become more, always, everyday, all the time.

Allena Jordan
September 12, 2023

I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender; I surrender all. I take up my cross today and every day, dying to self and living for Jesus. Amen.

Cheryl Jackson
September 12, 2023

Amen! 🙏❤️✝️


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