On January 18th – 25th the Christian Church will once again begin its annual observance known as “The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” However, when the world looks at the modern Christian church, does it perceive unity or does it see division? The answer should be apparent. If it is not, allow me to share with you an article written on January 19, 2008, by Peter Steinfels of the New York Times that should show us how the secular world perceives the unity (or lack of unity) within the Christian church:
“Has the movement for unity among Christians gone into a coma? The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began Friday, a century after the first such celebration. In many countries, Christians deeply devoted to unity among their separate groups will gather in one another’s churches to pray and reflect on passages from Scripture. Since 1968, prayers and readings for the week have been jointly planned by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches. But for most Christians, the week, centennial or not, carries no more resonance than, say, National Secretaries Week (now officially Administrative Professionals Week). Has the ecumenical [unity] movement lost steam? Or has it, perhaps, fallen victim to its own success? One way or the other, does it make any difference?”
The secular world—and unfortunately many Christians as well—believes that Christian unity is nothing more than a pipedream—irrelevant, unobtainable and an absolute waste of time. I believe otherwise! Not because of anything that I have witnessed in the church world, but rather because Scripture tells me that Christian unity will happen; as far as I can tell, it will happen in our generation. However, if the Christian Unity Movement is going to be successful, it will first have to understand and then begin to war against the unseen and hidden forces that are dividing us.
When we consider the way a nation wages war, the first question that is often considered is: “Do we have a numerical superiority when compared to the opposition?” No person or group should attempt to enter into battle unprepared or outnumbered. When speaking of this, Jesus said, “What king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31)
Where does that leave us? How do we calculate our numerical superiority with that of the enemy who is determined to keep us divided? The thing is, we cannot. When we attempt to calculate the army of Satan and the ranks of fallen angels that he has at his disposal [See Eph. 6:12], we see that we will be unable to come up with a definite number. A glimpse into heaven tells us that there are “an innumerable company of angels.” (Heb. 12:22) the word innumerable means a vast number. The Amplified Bible translates this as a “countless multitude.”
When Lucifer rebelled against God, it is believed that he took one third of the angels with him. [See Rev. 12:4] I am not sure we can ever calculate what one third of a “countless multitude” is, but you can be sure that it is a lot! So how many “recruits” must we enlist to be sure that we have a numerical superiority in the war for biblical unity? Since it appears that no number of believers could possibly match the number of the rank and file that Satan has at his disposal, we must look for another tactical advantage. An understanding of our enemy and how war is wages in the heavenly realms should help to give us the advantage that we need.
The apostle Paul tells us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) This is a reference to the various ranks of fallen angels. Just as an earthly military has a progressive rank structure, the same appears to be true with the ranks of fallen angels.
In keeping with the perfect symmetry of the Bible, there appears to have been created three classifications of angels: worship angels, messenger angels and warrior angels. Likewise, it appears that God created three archangels and appointed them over each of the three groups. Lucifer appears to have been the archangel in charge of praise and worship in the heavens. [See Ezekiel Ch. 28] The archangel Gabriel appears to be the chief messenger angel. [See Dan. 8:16 and Luke 1:26] The archangel Michael is clearly the chief warrior angel. [See Dan. 10:13, Jude 9 and Rev. 12:7]
When a believer prays to God seeking wisdom on a particular matter, many times a messenger angel is immediately dispatched from Heaven with the answer to our prayers. However, the answers to these prayers are at times opposed in the heavenly realm by the spiritual forces of wickedness over the region in which we live. [See Eph. 6:12] This can be clearly seen in the book of Daniel.
In the ninth chapter, Daniel had been fasting and praying to God, seeking to understand particular things about Israel’s future. We read: “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” (Dan. 9:3) As with all prayer, God heard the prayer immediately and dispatched a low-ranking messenger angel with the answer. However, a more powerful fallen angel from Satan’s ranks, who governed the heavenly realm over the country of Persia, opposed him and kept the answer from Daniel for a span of 21 days. It was not until the archangel Michael—undoubtedly the most powerful warrior angel—came and freed him up that he was able to deliver the message to Daniel. We read of this account:
“Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.’” (Dan. 10:12-14)
This “prince of the kingdom of Persia” is one of ranks of fallen angels which Paul spoke of in his letter to the Ephesians. He called them: “principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12-13) This is who our true warfare is against.
The Christian Unity Movement must be given the time to gather together a large group of intercessors to wage war against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We are told by James that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) Daniel, along with Job and Noah, are listed as three notable righteous men. [Ezek. 14:14] The Christian church must once again begin to understand the tremendous power of prayer and what it is we are to be praying for. [1 Tim. 2:8]
A study of Jesus’ final prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (located in John 17) shows us that it is the will of both the Father and the Son for believers everywhere to endeavor to achieve biblical unity. This will only be accomplished by praying against the enemies that seek to keep us divided.
If one man [Daniel] praying was enough to occupy the time [21 days] of the principality over an entire region, imagine what effect a legion of believers praying for biblical unity can have in the spirit realm! Satan’s ranks would be so overwhelmed trying to combat just the prayers traveling back and forth between Heaven and earth that his forces would have to be diverted from other tasks—tasks such as attacking our families, our churches and our nation. This “diversionary tactic” is a valid military strategy that has been successfully used by military leaders for centuries. Its objective is to keep the enemy off balance and preoccupied so that it is unable to commit or concentrate all of its forces on one particular objective. It essentially spreads the opposing forces very thin so that they have been weakened in any area that you choose to attack.
I believe that previous unity movements have failed because they have failed to understand the dynamics of the war that we are engaged in. As we once again enter into the season in which we observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us go forth with a renewed excitement and expectation that God is about to bring His body into a glorious state of unity.
A Gallup polls taken in America in 1991 showed that 82 percent of the adult population considered themselves to be Christian. Can you imagine the power that would be unleashed if these million of believers in America alone, would put aside the differences and begin to pray as one man, for a unifying of the body of Christ. Let it be said of us as it was of Israel:
“So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man.”
– (Judg 20:11)