By Gary DeVeau
Why Does Spiritual Darkness Lingers Where It Does?
We have all seen and felt how different towns have widely different personas. I have driven through some neighborhoods that immediately made me feel relaxed and safe. Conversely, I have driven through communities and just as quickly I felt the urge to hit the power door locks. What are the variables that dictate a town's personality? Are our first impressions derived simply from the more visible social and economic conditions or are there hidden factors behind what we see with our eyes? Why does it seem as though spiritual darkness acts like it has a right to linger in one location, more so than in another? Is this a possible reason that certain areas seem galvanized against evangelistic outreaches? We must learn to see communities as God sees them if we are to answer these questions of why things are the way they are.
In an attempt to answer these questions, we will have to first map the separate 'layers' that make up the reality of any given community. Community annalists use many disciplines to peel back these layers to better understand the corporate "reality" of a community. Anthropology, sociology and even archeology are only a few of the disciplines needed to get a complete picture of what makes up a community. As helpful as these studies are, most usually deny the one component that is elemental to a complete understanding. Since God is the Creator of all things, and God is spirit(1), we as Christians must consider the spiritual realm as the foundation to these "layers of reality". George Otis, Jr., who coined the phrase "Spiritual Mapping", calls this spirit realm layer "The Basement of Reality".(2)
Western Christianity, to its detriment, has lost touch with this elementary understanding and has, for the most part, considered this earthly realm as the basis for all its decisions, whether those decisions were evangelically or socially motivated. The major hindrance to our past attempts to set the captives free was looking for a natural or physical explanation to spiritual matters. In essence, thinking the physical realm is the first layer of reality. To quote William Irwin Thompson, "We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: we cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions. We do not live in reality: we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality, but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us."(3)
It has been said that we do not see things as they are; we see things as we are. The next question might be, "Then... who are we?" The Bible says that we are new creations(4), created in God's spiritual image(5) and are being transformed by His renewing of our minds(6) . "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view." (2 Cor. 5:16a NIV) George Otis, Jr. writes, "One would think the ways of the spiritual dimension would be as familiar to the average believer as the sea is to mariners; that the majority of Christians would know in both theory and practice what the apostle Paul was talking about in Ephesians 6..."(7). "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."(Eph. 6:10-12 KJV) With this spiritual foundation laid, we can now build an answer to the original question of why spiritual darkness seems enabled to linger, or habitat, within a particular geographic region.
In William Robertson Smith's, The Religion of the Semites(8), he writes, "The land of a god corresponds with the land of his worshipers". In other words, spiritual darkness will build its temple where the corporate will of the people make it welcome. The Apostle Paul writes of a well know fact of his day, when he states that the Ephesians were worshipers of the goddess Diana(9). Unfortunately, this is not so easily recognizable in Western society. When a Buddhist temple is built in Upstate NY, it's easy to recognize the infiltration of idol worship. The challenge to us is to discern what is giving the less obvious false gods welcomed residence within our own city limits and how are we corporately extending their leases each year with festivals, re-dedications and misguided traditions.
Only through fervent prayer and God-inspired detective work can we obtain the knowledge needed to break these leases. The good news is that as we identify with our communities, pray with a renewed, heart-felt passion, repent of our sins and the sins of our community (making reconciliation and restitution where needed) then God shall feel welcomed to make His home among us.(10)
Targeting Spiritual Darkness, Through Informed Intercession
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16b) One might ask, in pondering this scripture, "For my prayers to be truly effectual, how do I sustain fervency?" In the context of this scripture, we see several guidelines. In the first section of the verse we read, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." This line indicates an intimacy between the one praying and the one being prayed for, a coming together in prayer and, ultimately, a healing.
We have seen that this pattern for prayer can work effectively, even on a corporate level. It works, however, only if there is fervency in our intercession - a fervency that can only be sustained through intimate knowledge. With this intimate knowledge, we can focus our prayers and intercede with more effectiveness. To quote what George Otis, Jr. said during the 1993 Consultation on Spiritual Mapping, "Research produces details, details lead to fervency and fervency leads to Results".
Kjell Sjšberg, of Intercessors For Sweden, states "We can pray in the spirit and get information from the Holy Spirit, but we must also pray with our understanding. The basic concept of spiritual mapping is that we need to be as well informed as possible when we are praying."(11)
George Otis, Jr., who coined the phrase "Spiritual Mapping" in 1990, describes this prayer strategy when he states, "In short, Christian warriors at the end of the twentieth century can expect to face challenges on the spiritual battlefield that are unique in both type and magnitude. Commonplace methods of discerning and responding to these challenges will no longer do. As I wrote in my recent book, The Last of the Giants (Chosen Books), if we are to successfully overcome the works of the enemy, "We must learn to see the world as it really is, not as it appears to be."(12) I will add here that to see things as they really are, we must see them as God sees them. This is not come by naturally, but rather it is only discerned with help from the Holy Spirit. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8&9 KJV
Let me digress at this point, as we pause to examine how God defines the Biblical principle of "intercession". "The word "intercession" implies a "meeting" with someone, on behalf of someone else.(13) This meeting can be with God, and His angelic realm, or Satan and his demonic forces. As we meet with God, it is to mediate, entreat and stand in the gap for His people or for someone held captive by Satan. When we meet with Satan and his forces, it is to bind or destroy their works and set their captives free. Both with the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek, the definitions of intercession are identical.... In each case, intercession meant going before (meeting with) someone in authority, on behalf of someone else." Here we see yet another impetus for Informed Intercession, or Spiritual Mapping. To intercede properly, it behooves us to know as much about the individual or community as possible.
In the past, many of our prayer initiatives attained results somewhat akin to the scud missiles launched by Saddam Hussein, during the Gulf War. They had power, potential and yet, without direction and guidance, most fell short without significant damage inflicted upon the enemy. With the right detailed findings about a situation, informed intercessors can "take out" enemy strongholds which hindered the furtherance of the Gospel in the past. Like enemy intelligence gathering during wartime - Spiritual Mapping gathers the strategic information necessary for effective intercessory "smart prayer" deployment. Spiritual mapping is a research modality giving quantifiable knowledge, which can lead to eternal results through informed intercession.(14)
This discipline of prayerwork has not developed without its share of detractors. In response to antagonists, noted theologian and Bible scholar Dr. C. Peter Wagner states, "Some say that spiritual mapping tends to glorify Satan. Others have expanded on this and warned that if we try to discover Satan’s devices or learn the names of the spirits who are leading either individual or social oppression we empower the demonic spirits and make them more dangerous. This, to me, is like supposing that medical research glorifies the disease or empowers the viruses that cause it. In my lifetime, I have seen smallpox research virtually eliminate the dreadful disease of smallpox, not glorify it. We do medical research to destroy the disease, and we do spiritual mapping to neutralize the activities of the enemy and his forces of darkness."(15)
Another misnomer regarding Spiritual Mapping is that it is some kind of a quick magical fix-all. "This notion is most often found in Western societies where attention spans are measured in seconds and the work ethic has been eroded by formulas, gimmicks and gizmos. Unfortunately, for its advocates (wherever they may be), it is false. Spiritual mapping is neither quick nor magical. Demystified, it is a heavy schedule of hard, disciplined work. Those who are not up to community networking, rigorous research and long hours before God in prayer need not apply."(16) An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.Proverbs 20:21NIV
Spiritual Mapping is by its nature a multi-layered discipline and within the discipline, there are 4 basic types, or layers, of spiritual mapping reports.
The first type of report is a Prayerwalking Profile. These are brief non-standardized guides that serve as an aid to prayerwalking initiatives, reconciliation walks, and marches (i.e. March for Jesus). Local churches and ministries in the targeted area should produce these reports. Most include at least some treatment of local history, social bondages and spiritual competition. They also present a brief overview of current problems facing the Body of Christ (apathy, persecution or disunity) and a tour itinerary and map replete with descriptions and/or photographs of relevant sites. The report should take 2-4 weeks to complete and should include prayer directives shown through the research. Second are Special Briefings, which are research packages, designed to alert local churches, ministry teams and prayer groups to issues and circumstances that warrant special attention. Subject matter can deal with disturbing trends (such as the renewal of ancient spiritual practices), chronic problems (such as a lack of church growth in a given neighborhood) or unique circumstances (such as new openness to the gospel brought on by traumatic events). The preceding two report types are designed to build awareness of a given prayer need or opportunity. Major questions and answers are not to be addressed with these. Their only objective is to stimulate intercession for an area - not for lengthy prayer initiatives.
The following two Spiritual Mapping reports are bigger and highly standardized. These are intended to stimulate collective action toward community transformation. These projects are to be long term and can last upward to two or more years. These reports are NOT to stimulate the appetite for community intercession, but rather to satisfy the hunger with the given knowledge that already exits. These are complex analyses of complex social entities, and these are meant to sustain lengthy prayer campaigns. The first of these are Neighborhood Reports. A "neighborhood" being an area or localized setting where people live and gather or display a common affinity (i.e. small towns, school campuses, Native reservations, large companies, housing estates, military bases, or particular city blocks). These reports must be assembled to a standardized design for comparative analyses, for detection of regional strongholds or spiritual patterns. When a territory becomes too large, then it no longer qualifies it for a neighborhood report. The last form of report is the Regional Report. These reports lend themselves more to initiatives like the Sentinel Groups' Ancient Pathways Project.(17) These reports enable Christians to discern the spiritual lay of the land in large cities, counties, states or regions. Although similar in structure to neighborhood reports, they are too large for any single ministry to complete. These reports are multi-church partnership endeavors and each church could take on the responsibility for mapping its immediate neighborhood. When these projects are completed, the findings then merge into one report. Other than size, the regional report is similar to neighborhood reports in structure.
In synopsis, George Otis, Jr. concludes, "Over the last several years, interest in prayer and spiritual warfare has exploded. Across North America, and indeed throughout the world, hundreds of local churches, mission agencies and prayer fellowships have discovered afresh the awesome power of focused intercession. Along with this renewed interest in prayer has come a growing demand for tools that will allow believers to sustain fervent intercession. The discipline of spiritual mapping, which escalates fervor by enhancing vision, fits the bill perfectly"(18)
Gary DeVeau is executive director of Isaiah 54 Ministries. He is also the USA Point Person for The Sentinel Group's Ancient Pathways Project Prayer Initiative and the administrator of The Sentinel Group's Spiritual Mapper's International Internet Forum. Gary co-authored, with Eileen Koff, two books, "Transformations - Ourselves & Our Communities" and "Steps To Inner Healing".
(1) John 4:24
(2) From The Twilight Labyrinth by George Otis, Jr. of The Sentinel Group pg. 54 (Chosen Books 1997)
(3) From Evil and World Order by William Irwin Thompson pg. 81 (New York: Harper and Row, 1976)
(4) 2 Corinthians 5:17
(5) Genesis 1:27
(6) Romans 12:2 & 2 Corinthians 3:18
(7) From Breaking Strongholds In Your City pg. 32 edited by C. Peter Wagner (Regal Books, 1993)
(8) From The Religion of the Semites - a lecture series and book by William Robertson Smith (1889)
(9) Acts 19:35
(10) 2 Chronicles 7:13-22
(11) by Kjell Sjšberg From Breaking Strongholds In Your City © 1993 by C. Peter Wagner
(12) by George Otis, Jr. From Breaking Strongholds In Your City © 1993 by C. Peter Wagner
(13) From Transformations - Ourselves & Our Communities pgs. 35 & 36 © 2001 Isaiah 54 Ministries
(14) From Transformations - Ourselves & Our Communities pg. 52 © 2001 Isaiah 54 Ministries
(15) From Confronting The Powers © 1996 by C. Peter Wagner.
(16) From Informed Intercession © 1999 by George Otis, Jr.
(17) See: www.isaiah54.org/AP.html
(18) From Informed Intercession © 1999 by George Otis, Jr.
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