I always am amazed at what happens when I ask people to pray for me in relation to a difficult situation I’m in. Invariably, I not only feel personally supported; I also discover new solutions present themselves, and the outcome is better than I could have predicted. (The examples that immediately come to mind are confidential, so I have to be circumspect in this entry. )
So for me, chapter 22, Spiritual Warfare, brings a reminder that whenever I am facing a difficult situation, there is always more to that situation than meets the eye. “Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh” (I would say, “not only against blood and flesh”) but against … the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph 6:12).
We moderns prefer to think that people are above being affected by some sort of invisible evil power. But evil can be at work even in situations where people are unaware of its influence. The power of greed, for example, in creating the current economic crisis, has been widely discussed. Less frequently do we hear the suggestion that “spiritual forces of evil” had their influence in corporate boardrooms, where otherwise good people made decisions that brought immense wealth to the “haves” and then increased the suffering of the “poor and downtrodden” we read about in DE chapter 18. In my opinion, that is evil at work.
I don’t usually use the biblical image of “going into battle” in these situations, because that makes it too easy to mistakenly identify people as “evil” in themselves – and they are not. But evil can be at work in us (Romans 7:21) and in situations (Eph 4:27), sometimes without our conscious awareness, unless we are vigilant. Ogden seems to understand this – but he keeps the discussion on the literal and personal level. Fortunately what comes through loud and clear is that prayer is the key to dealing with these situations.