DSM has been blessed with a wonderful, hard-working, and loyal team. Ceci and I are going to do a staff retreat with them, then she and I will take a much-needed vacation. I have asked some of my close friends and associates - many being regular contributors to the Give Him 15 posts - to fill in during this time. You will recognize most of the names; and I’ve thrown in one or two whom perhaps you haven’t heard from. You’re going to love the insights from all of them - this will be a wonderful smorgasbord! Enjoy!
Authority in Prayer to Change the Spiritual Atmosphere - Cheryl Sacks
Every household, workplace, neighborhood, and even nation has a unique spiritual atmosphere or prevalent climate. I am sure you have felt it. You walk into a store or someone’s home and immediately feel something difficult to explain, whether it is peace and joy, or a prevailing darkness and heaviness.
We may feel powerless to change negative atmospheres and start thinking “that’s just the way things are!” But that’s simply not true. Storms can be calmed instantly, as we saw when Jesus rebuked a storm at sea (Matthew 8:23-27). It’s true of spiritual climates as well.
Dutch Sheets, as you know, is a bestselling author, speaker, and former pastor. He shares this story about authority in prayer:
“When the Lord first started talking to me about changing the atmosphere, He started by dealing with me about the atmosphere in my home. One morning in our house, there was this tension. We have a great family relationship—all of us. We don’t fight, and my wife, Ceci, and I don’t argue. We talk things through. We make sure we honor one another in that way. But everybody was kind of on edge, irritated and frustrated. Nobody had a reason. So everybody had to guard their tongue and be careful. Finally, I just said—sort of to myself—Lord, I really don’t like the atmosphere in here right now.
“Just as clearly as I have ever heard the Lord, He said, Well, why don’t you change it? The Lord said, You’re in charge of your house. You have authority here. Just begin to decree My Word and decree that the tension has to leave, and the peace of God will fill the atmosphere of your house.
“I thought, I’m going to try this and see what happens. I didn’t gather the family and pray because I didn’t want them to know what I was doing. I wanted to know whether this was going to be something supernatural or people just trying harder. For only five minutes, I walked through the house, and under my breath, I quietly started praying and decreeing. Within minutes—not hours, but minutes—the atmosphere changed. People were singing and happy, and engaging one another in conversation. It was like they’d had their morning cup of coffee—everybody changed. I thought, Wow, this is pretty good.
“A short time after that, I was in our church service on a Sunday morning. It didn’t feel right—like there was this oppression.
“I said to the Lord, I don’t like the atmosphere in here right now. The worship team was struggling, and people were kind of lethargic.
“The Lord said, Why don’t you change it? You’re in charge. Change it.
“So I told my associate that we were going to agree in prayer, that we were going to change the atmosphere in the room. I did what I did in my home and within minutes, the place was alive—like fire. I thought, Wow, this is pretty good!”
Dutch gives us a powerful and practical model here that we can apply. Every day we are in various spiritual battles relating to our families, workplaces, and communities. However, in the end, we must remember that the war is over the presence of God. Who will rule the atmosphere in a given place? Will it be the Holy Spirit or something else?
I (Cheryl) remember when I was teaching in a large public high school in Texas riddled with drugs, gangs, depression, and sometimes violence. It was a teacher’s nightmare! In one of my classes, the students’ absenteeism was higher than their grade average. The students who were in class would put their heads on their desks and sleep almost the entire class time. I was still new to teaching and didn’t know what to do. My college professors hadn’t mentioned that teaching would be like this, much less told us what to do about it.
Since I had no other training, my Bible became my manual. I prayer walked the halls and the four-block perimeter of my school. I took authority over the oppressive atmosphere there and invited Holy Spirit to come in. I anointed the doorway of my classroom and prayed over the desk of every student. Then I gathered the other English teachers who I knew were Christians to pray with me during the lunch break.
I soon discovered in the back of the English department’s book room a classroom set of the book, The Cross and the Switchblade by Nicky Cruz. Nicky had been the leader of the notorious gang, the Maus Maus, in New York City. The book tells his life story and his conversion to Christ after meeting the preacher, David Wilkerson. Don’t ask me how these Christian books ended up in the book room of a public high school. All I know is that the Lord put them there for me.
I started teaching the book, “as literature” of course, and I saw an immediate change in the spiritual atmosphere in my classes. Students were interested and motivated and there was an evident spiritual hunger. Just before the end of the school year, I had the thought that I should invite Nicky Cruz to come and speak to the students in our high school assembly. When I mentioned the idea to the school principal, he said “NO way! We can’t have a preacher preaching in our high school.” The school superintendent agreed it was not a good idea and it was not going to happen. At first Nicky Cruz himself said he couldn’t come. But we prayed and God miraculously opened the door.
I will never forget the day Nicky Cruz stood on stage in our school auditorium and shared his life story with our 2,000 students. When Nicky explained how Jesus Christ died on the Cross for his sins and theirs, the room was filled with the palpable presence of God. As he shared how Jesus had changed his life and could change their lives, too, the student body, without any prompting, jumped to their feet and erupted in an exuberant roaring applause. This went on for several minutes. Nicky wasn’t allowed to give an “altar call,” but still students streamed to the front of the auditorium to talk about God and ask for prayer. Revival broke out that day and the entire atmosphere of my high school changed.
Scripture tells us that we live in two realms—a physical realm and an invisible realm. Just because we cannot see the spiritual realm doesn’t mean it is any less real. It has the power to influence our lives —and the atmosphere in our homes, workplaces, and even our nation. A spiritual atmosphere has the power to shape our lives—to confuse or inspire, to affirm or reject, to make sad or happy, to restrict or empower.
How do we know what atmosphere is ruling a given place? The Bible says that “The kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). In other words, when God’s Spirit is in charge in your home or elsewhere, you can expect to experience peace and joy. That is an awesome promise!
On the other hand, the Bible tells us that we have a spiritual enemy who comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). When these dark forces are at work, they rob our peace, our health, our finances, and our spiritual vitality.
Since Jesus dealt with satan’s authority – the right to use his power and abilities (see Colossians 2:15) – then we need to deal with him as a usurper, a rebel, a thief that has no right to steal, kill and destroy, but who will if not stopped. If we have been delivered from satan’s authority and given a higher authority in Christ’s name, then we must exercise our authority over the devil’s works and power. When we do, God’s awesome power will back up our authority..
Jesus put it this way: “Behold I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19; NKJV). This means that we don’t have to submit to our negative circumstances and environment, we can change the atmosphere wherever we go by walking in our God-given dominion.
Pray with me:
Thank You, Lord, that You did not leave us powerless, but, in fact, have given us spiritual weapons and authority to use them in Your powerful name. We thank You, Lord, that the works of darkness have no authority to oppress us or prevail against us. Instead, we and our household can walk in abundant life and victory because of Jesus’ birth, death on the cross, and resurrection from the grave!
As believers in Jesus Christ and in His name, we decree that satan will not kill, steal, or destroy our children, our health, our schools, workplaces, or nation! We proclaim that we will live and work in an atmosphere of peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit!
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Cheryl Sacks is the best-selling author of The Prayer Saturated book series: The Prayer Saturated Church, Prayer-Saturated Kids, and The Prayer Saturated Family—How to Change the Atmosphere in Your Home through Prayer. Her newest book, Reclaim a Generation, 21 Days of Prayer for Schools, will be available soon at
 Dutch Sheets, Authority in Prayer, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995), p 21.