What would you do if someone began to push against you, attempting to throw you off a position that is rightfully yours? How would you respond? Most people would lean into the weight and push back. That’s a posture of resistance. And as believers, we must know when it’s time to lean with all our might against evil. But how?
Prayer is the believer’s great privilege and powerful weapon against Satan and his plans. The apostle Peter wrote, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). James echoed this teaching:
“Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
Both of these godly men admonished believers to oppose evil. And we do that by persevering in prayer. On the surface, this form of resistance may appear to be passive. But in practice, it is always active, intentional, and powerful.
Resistance begins with a decision to join the struggle against evil through prayer, rather than retreat. Such godly opposition takes strength and courage. It also requires patience and perseverance.
Peter and James point to two key words at the heart of our ability to resist the devil through our prayers: faith in God and submission to His will.
Submission to God means acknowledging that we can’t but He can. In our prayers, we might tell the Lord, “I can’t defeat the Enemy on my own. But with You, I can.” By taking this position, we join the apostle Paul in saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
James taught that submission occurs when we seek a closer relationship with God. As we spend time in His Word and His presence, we get to know the Lord better. We also discover how He wants us to overcome evil and experience blessing in our lives. By setting aside time solely to listen and wait upon the Lord for direction and guidance, we grow closer to Him. Periodically hiding ourselves away from all other influences and distractions is vital if we want to grow in knowledge of our God. The better we know Him, the more we see His power, experience His love, and grow in faith and wisdom.
Faith can be summed up in the statement “God, I believe You will.” In our efforts to overcome the Evil One, we might pray this way: “I believe You will defeat the Enemy and cause him to flee from me as I resist him and put my trust in You.” Again and again, David made this declaration of faith to the Lord: “O my God, I trust in You” (See Ps. 25:2, 31:6, 55:23, 56:3, 143:8).
We grow in faith by exercising it—trusting God in every circumstance and relationship. Over time, we develop a personal history with God as He demonstrates His faithfulness and loving care for us. The result is an ever-deepening relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Ultimately, it’s impossible to resist the Devil for long if you don’t believe that Jesus Christ can and will thwart Satan’s attempts to harm you. Remaining strong in faith requires total submission to God in all areas of your life—no exceptions. When you decide that you don’t need God’s help in one area, that’s precisely where the Enemy will strike.
The good news is that God has given each of us a measure of faith to nurture within our hearts. And by His grace, we are capable of submitting to His will. In whatever you do, remember the words of James: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.