Zechariah 3:1; Ephesians 6:10-12
And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
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.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Prayer is essential for the reason that the apostle gives us in this very section―that is the power and subtlety, and the might and the ingenuity of our terrible adversary. I suppose ultimately that the reason we don’t pray more than we do is because we are not clear about the doctrine of the devil, and of the forces of evil, and of hell. ‘Look here,’ says Paul, ‘if you only realize that you’re not wrestling only against flesh and blood, but against these principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in the high places, well, you’d very soon realize the absolute necessity of prayer.’ Our Lord knew all about that; our Lord met the devil in single mortal combat; He experienced all the power of the devil and of hell. I say it is because we don’t realize that, that we fail to pray as we ought.
EDWARD REYNOLDS (1599-1676): Satan hath three titles given in the Scripture, setting forth his malignity against the church of God; a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength. But none of all these can stand before prayer. The greatest malice of Haman sinks under the prayer of Esther; the deepest policy, the counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the prayer of David; the largest army, a host of a thousand Ethiopians, runs away like cowards before the prayer of Asa.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): If Satan might have his wish, surely it would be this: that the creature might live prayerless…Satan cannot but deny but great wonders have been wrought by prayer. As the spirit of prayer goes up, so his kingdom goes down. Satan’s stratagems against prayer are three. First, if he can, he will keep thee from prayer. If that be not feasible, secondly, he will strive to interrupt thee in prayer. And thirdly, if that plot takes not, he will labour to hinder the success of thy prayer.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Unbelief whispers, “What profit is there if thou shouldst seek the Lord upon such and such a matter?” “This is a case quite out of the list of those things wherein God hath interposed, and therefore”―saith the devil―“if you were in any other position you might rest upon the mighty arm of God; but here prayer will not avail you. Either it is too trivial a matter, or it is too connected with temporals, or else it is a matter in which you have sinned too much, or else it is too high, too hard, too complicated; you have no right to take that before God!” So suggests the foul fiend of hell.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: When the Devil comes and suggests that God is against us and that God does not care and so on, then the first thing to do is to clear our minds and to get rid of any doubt or uncertainty about the being and character of God.
THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): The devil, if he cannot hinder us from duty, will hinder us in duty. When we come before the Lord, he is at our right hand to resist us. Like when a man is going to write, and another stands at his elbow and jogs him so that he cannot write evenly, Satan will set vain objects before the fancy to cause a diversion.
J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Sometimes it is so with us. When the Lord gives us some little access unto Himself, we do not make the most of it. Satan casts in some fiery dart, some worldly circumstance distracts our mind, some filthy imagination rises up in our bosom; and instead of resisting the devil that he may flee from us, we give way to him; the opportunity is gone, the sweet moment is lost.
AMY CARMICHAEL (1867-1951): All the time the devil is fighting our half-hour’s prayer—he never tires of fighting it. Sometimes there is a dullness which is a cloud of hell.
C. H. SPURGEON: Let no one of us ever think of saying, “I do not feel as if I could pray, and therefore I will not pray.” On the contrary, then is the time when you ought to pray more earnestly than ever.
GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer; whilst the truth is, the way to obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying; for the less we pray, the less we desire to pray.
WILLIAM GURNALL: Satan disturbs thee in praying, that he may make thee weary of praying…Prayer is a tedious work for him who hath no pleasure in it: and weariness in it stands next door to weariness of it.
JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Take heed how you begin to allow excuses. Be watchful to keep up the duty in the height of it; let it not so much as begin to sink. For when you give way, though it is but a little, it is like giving way to an enemy in the field of battle: the first beginning of a retreat greatly encourages the enemy and weakens the retreating soldiers.
THOMAS WATSON: The devil does not oppose formality but fervency. If he sees we are setting ourselves in good earnest to seek God, he will be whispering things in our ears, so that we can scarcely attend to what we are doing.
JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Learn to outshoot the devil with his own bow, and to cut off his head with his own sword. Doth Satan tell thee thou prayest but faintly and with cold devotions? Answer him, I am glad you told me, I will trust the more to Christ’s prayers, and groan, sigh, and cry more earnestly at the throne of grace.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Tears and prayers are our weaponry.
THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Luther terms prayer bombarda Christianorum―the gun or cannon of Christians, or the Christian’s gunshot.
SAMUEL CHADWICK (1860-1932): The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.