The invisible realm and why you should pray

I’ve been reading Michael Heiser’s excellent The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. If you haven’t read this book, stop everything you’re doing and buy it right now. Western Christians used to have this worldview and we need to recover it immediately if we want a new Reformation because it was the worldview of the Reformers and every Christian up until recently. Consider the words of Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is our God, which explain this worldview and our resulting duties succinctly:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

We cannot win battles in the visible realm without winning them in the invisible realm through prayer because we are weak. Christians in the global south understand this. For example, Africans still believe in an invisible realm of angels, demons, devils, and witches. They know the spiritual battle is the more-important one and that the physical battle cannot be won without winning it in the spiritual domain first. This is why God’s Kingdom is growing exponentially there. This doesn’t just apply to evangelism or building the Kingdom, though every action of a Christian towards the glory of God builds the Kingdom. It also applies to daily life or movements of peoples and physical struggles. The American patriots of 1776 understood this. Not only did they have stable families, household economies, and churches, but they also understood the need for victory in the invisible realm through prayer. They proceeded only when they sensed the approval from God. When you have God’s blessing and the Holy Spirit’s help, physical efforts feel easy – like you’re working but making almost no effort. Our first national anthem by William Billings confirms this:

It sounds banal, but pray. Western Christians pray on average only 4 minutes per day. This confirms we don’t even believe in an invisible realm but think the material cosmos is all there is. We’ve been programmed to think this way by our surrounding culture who looks into the universe and sees no God. It should not be so for us. Luther prayed 6-8 hours per day, as did other giants of the faith. James the Lord’s brother prayed so much that his knees developed knobs. Their accomplishments in the physical realm depended entirely on the spiritual battles on their knees. Pray.

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