Every household, workplace, neighborhood, and even nationhas a unique spiritual atmosphere or prevalent climate. I am sure you have feltit. You walk into a store or someone’s home and immediately feel somethingdifficult to explain, whether it is peace and joy, or a prevailing darkness andheaviness.
We may feel powerless to change negative atmospheresand start thinking “that’s just the way things are!” But that’s simply nottrue. Storms can be calmed instantly, as we saw when Jesus rebuked a storm atsea (Mathew 8:23-27). It’s true ofspiritual climates as well.
DutchSheets, as you know, is a bestselling author, speaker, and former pastor. He sharesthis story about authority in prayer:
“When the Lord first startedtalking to me about changing the atmosphere, He started by dealing with meabout the atmosphere in my home. One morning in our house, there was thistension. We have a great family relationship—all of us. We don’t fight, and mywife, Ceci, and I don’t argue. We talk things through. We make sure we honorone another in that way. But everybody was kind of on edge, irritated andfrustrated. Nobody had a reason. So everybody had to guard their tongue and becareful. Finally, I just said—sort of to myself—Lord, I really don’t likethe atmosphere in here right now.
“Just as clearly as I have everheard the Lord, He said, Well, why don’t you change it? The Lord said, You’rein charge of your house. You have authority here. Just begin to decree My Wordand decree that the tension has to leave, and the peace of God will fill theatmosphere of your house.
“I thought, I’m going to trythis and see what happens. I didn’t gather the family and pray because Ididn’t want them to know what I was doing. I wanted to know whether this wasgoing to be something supernatural or people just trying harder. For only fiveminutes, I walked through the house, and under my breath, I quietly startedpraying and decreeing. Within minutes—not hours, but minutes—theatmosphere changed. People were singing and happy, and engaging one another inconversation. It was like they’d had their morning cup of coffee—everybodychanged. I thought, Wow, this is pretty good.
“A short time after that, Iwas in our church service on a Sunday morning. It didn’t feel right—like therewas this oppression.
“I said to the Lord, Idon’t like the atmosphere in here right now. The worship team wasstruggling, and people were kind of lethargic.
“The Lord said, Whydon’t you change it? You’re in charge. Change it.
“So I told my associatethat we were going to agree in prayer, that we were going to change theatmosphere in the room. I did what I did in my home and within minutes, theplace was alive—like fire. I thought, Wow, this is pretty good!”
Dutch gives us a powerful and practical model here thatwe can apply. Every day we are in various spiritual battles relating to ourfamilies, workplaces, and communities. However, in the end, we must rememberthat the war is over the presence of God. Who will rule the atmospherein a given place? Will it be the Holy Spirit or something else?
I (Cheryl) remember when I was teaching in a large publichigh school in Texas riddled with drugs, gangs, depression, and sometimesviolence. It was a teacher’s nightmare! In one of my classes the students’absenteeism was higher than their grade average. The students who werein class would put their heads on their desks and sleep almost the entire classtime. I was still new to teaching and didn’t know what to do. My collegeprofessors hadn’t mentioned that teaching would be like this, much less told uswhat 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 oppressiveatmosphere there and invited Holy Spirit to come in. I anointed the doorway of my classroom and prayedover the desk of every student. Then I gathered the other English teachers whoI knew were Christians to pray with me during the lunch break.
I soon discovered in the back of the Englishdepartment’s book room a classroom set of the book, The Cross and theSwitchblade, a story about Nicky Cruz, the leader of the notorious gang,the Maus Maus, in New York City. The book tells the life story and hisconversion to Christ after meeting the preacher, David Wilkerson. Don’t ask mehow these Christian books ended up in the book room of a public highschool. All I know is that the Lord putthem 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 spiritualhunger. Just before the end of the school year, I had the thought that I shouldinvite 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’thave a preacher preaching in our high school.” The school superintendent agreedit was not a good idea and it was not going to happen. At first NickyCruz himself said he couldn’t come. But we prayed and God miraculously openedthe door.
I will never forget the day Nicky Cruz stood on stagein our school auditorium and shared his life story with our 2,000 students. WhenNicky explained how Jesus Christ died on the cross for his sins and theirs, theroom was filled with the palpable presence of God. As he shared how Jesus hadchanged his life and could change their lives, too, the student body, withoutany prompting, jumped to their feel and erupted in an exuberant roaringapplause. 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 talkabout God and ask for prayer. Revival broke out that day and the entireatmosphere of my high school changed.
Scripture tells us that we live in two realms—aphysical realm and an invisible realm. Just because we cannot see the spiritualrealm 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. Spiritual atmosphere has the power to shapeour lives—to confuse or inspire, to affirm or reject, to make sad or happy, torestrict or empower.
How do we know what atmosphere is ruling a givenplace? The Bible says that “the kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace and joy inthe Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). In other words when God’s Spirit is in chargein your home or elsewhere, you can expect to experience peace and joy. That isan awesome promise!
On the other hand, the Bible tells us that we have aspiritual enemy who comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). When thesedark forces are at work, they rob our peace, our health, our finances, and ourspiritual vitality.
Since Jesus dealt with Satan’s authority – the rightto 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 willif not stopped. If we have been delivered from Satan’s authority and given ahigher authority in Christ’s name, then we must exercise our authority over thedevil’s works and power. When we do, God’s awesome power will back up ourauthority.
Jesus put it this way: “Behold I give you authority totrample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, andnothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19 NKJV). This means that wedon’t have to submit to our negative circumstances and environment, we canchange 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 orprevail against us. Instead, we and our household can walk in abundant life andvictory because of Jesus’ birth, death on the cross, and resurrection from thegrave!
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 anatmosphere of peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit!
Dutch Sheets, Authority in Prayer, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995), p21.
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