How to Pray for the Unsaved
Second Corinthians 10:4 tells us we have been given spiritual weapons for the destruction of “strongholds.” The word is ochuroma, a “stronghold” (KJV) or “fortress” (NASB). It is literally a place from which to hold onto something or someone strongly. It is also the word for a fort, castle or prison.
I’ve seen pictures of foxholes and trenches hastily dug in times of war to maintain a position. That’s a hold. On the other hand, I toured a huge castle on top of a mountain in Salzburg, Austria, several years ago. From this seeming impregnable fortress on a hill, someone had ruled the territory. That’s a stronghold!
In essence, unbelievers are prisoners, captives, slaves. Christ was sent “to proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4:18) and He wants to proclaim this release through the mouth of the Church!
Verse five of 2 Corinthians 10 is an extremely important verse. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Verse four says our divinely empowered weapons can destroy strongholds, and verse five elaborates more fully on - breaks down the composition of - the stronghold in unbelievers! This is critical information as we begin to war for the lost.
Specifically, He shares with us three major components of the fortress or stronghold. These are the things we must begin to call out in prayer as we war over individuals with our divinely empowered weapons.
The first element of the stronghold He mentions is “speculations” - logismos. This Greek word speaks not of the individual thoughts of people, but of their calculative reasoning, their wisdom or logic.(1) Our English word “logic” is actually derived from this Greek root. Logismos is the sum total of the accumulated wisdom and information learned over time. It becomes what one really believes - the person’s mindset. Moffatt’s translation calls them “theories.” Humanity, before the Fall, got their wisdom and logic - their beliefs - from God. James 3:15 tells us they now come from the earth, the soul or intellect, and demons.
How does a logismos blind individuals? How does it veil truth? The way the human mind functions dictates that when people hear the gospel, before they even have time to think or reason about it, it is filtered through the subconscious mind where all other information - including these logismos - is stored. This means that unbelievers don’t hear what we are saying; they hear what we are saying plus what they already believe.
For example, I was sharing the gospel with a girl who had been horribly abused. “God is love,” I said. “He loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you.”
She did not hear only what I said. She also heard in her mind - I know, because she said it to me - “Oh? If He is love, why would He have allowed me to have been so abused? Doesn’t seem like a loving God to me.” Her mind has formed a logismos - a belief, a philosophy, her wisdom, her logic. Someone will need to intercede for her.
Perhaps you already know what the mindsets are that control the person for whom you are praying. If not, ask Holy Spirit to reveal them to you. He will. And when He does, call them by name, using 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Declare, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I am destroying you, stronghold of . . .” Do it daily until the person comes to Christ.
The second part of the stronghold we must demolish is “every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (v. 5, emphasis added). The KJV uses ”high thing” to translate the Greek word hupsoma, which is actually the same root word for “Most High” God. It actually means “any elevated place or thing.” (2) This is referring to the root of pride, the “most highness” that came to humanity at the Fall when Adam and Eve bought the lie “You too shall be as God” (see Genesis 3:5).
Humankind, like satan, attempted to exalt themselves to a place of equality with the Most High. We didn’t become the Most High, but we did become our own most high, filled with pride. One leading lexicon even defined humsoma as “all pride that rises up.”(3) The word encompasses all mindsets that elevate themselves above what God says.
We can tear down this stronghold in people through spiritual warfare, so that they humble themselves and bow their knees to Christ. Look at this entire verse (2 Corinthians 10:5) again in The Living Bible:
These weapons can break down every proud argument against God
and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding Him. With
these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God, and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ (emphasis added).
Considering the third element comprising strongholds, the Lord tells us we can “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The word “thought” is noema, which also means plans, schemes, devices or plots. It refers to the spontaneous thoughts and temptations satan uses to control people, as well as to the ongoing schemes and plans he uses. In intercession we must declare boldly that no weapon of satan’s will prosper. We must bind his plans (Matthew 16:18-19) and stand against them through prayer. We should pray that the unbeliever be shielded from satan’s thoughts and temptations.
Mary Smith, of Maple Valley, Washington, had been praying for her brother, John, to be saved for approximately 12 years, with no seeming results. She prayed general prayers, things such as “Lord, come into his life,” or “Lord, reveal Yourself to him.” As with many of us, she didn’t realize there were more specific biblical ways to pray.
John had major problems, including drugs, depression and extreme anger. Early in 1995 Mary took a class I taught where I related these and other principles about praying for the lost. Mary shared them with her husband, Joe, and their children. They all began to pray for John using these principles. Specifically, they prayed the following:
That God would lift the veil off his mind, bringing revelation and enlightenment
For Holy Spirit to hover over him and protect him
For godly people to be placed in his pathway each day
That anything exalting itself against the knowledge of God, specifically pride and rebellion, would be destroyed
That all ungodly thought patterns (logismos), would be destroyed.
That satan was bound from taking John captive through wicked thoughts and lies
That the armor of God would be placed on him
After two weeks of praying in this way, John overdosed on drugs and in the hospital cried out to God. Mary said, “The Lord met him in a powerful way. The veil was definitely lifted and he had a revelation of God. He now has an understanding of the Word and responds to it. The confusion is gone! John separated himself from the world and his former friends. He is now pursuing God and Christian relationships. His focus is on pleasing God, knowing Him more and more. He is even considering one day being a missionary.”
We have been given authority! We can turn unbelievers “from darkness to light and from the dominion of satan to God” (Acts 26:18). We are called to enforce and make effectual the freedom Christ procured. The unbeliever cannot war for his or herself; they cannot and will not overcome the strongholds of darkness in them - but we can! We must take our divinely powerful weapons and fight. The powers of darkness will resist, but “do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14).
Pray with me:
Father, we thank You for Your heart to save. Thank You for loving us humans, even when we are still rebellious. Thank You for the Cross. Thank You for sending Jesus to redeem us. Thank You for Holy Spirit‘s work of making this sacrifice understood.
We pray for those who do not know You, that the revelation of Christ and His provision would be made real to them. We pray against and bind every belief system and thought pattern that deceives them. We bind every philosophy and belief that keeps them from believing, from truly understanding the gospel, from seeing Jesus as He really is. We bind the spirit of pride that entered the human race at the fall, causing us to want to rule our own lives and not submit to Your Lordship.
We ask You now to send Holy Spirit to release His power over them: working in their minds and hearts, sending the right people to them, speaking to them through their thoughts, and drawing them to You. We ask You in Jesus name, and we thank You for doing this. Amen
We declare that every stronghold in the life of those we pray for will be torn down by the power of Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Today’s post was taken from my book Intercessory Prayer.
Click on the link below to watch the full prayer.
Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, p 923.
Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, ref no. 5313.
Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon, p 851.