I had been in church ministry for over 10 years when I was asked for the first time to be part of an exorcism.

Even now, I'm not quite sure that's the right word to describe what took place. Certainly it didn't look anything like what you see in movies. Nobody's head rotated 360 degrees; there were no freakishly low voices or unusual physical phenomena.

Just a man who used to be a missionary who found himself emotionally and relationally headed down paths he never thought he would pursue, unable to find solid ground to stand on. He felt somehow that his inner battle was not merely psychological. Through mutual friends I was asked to be one of those who gathered to pray for his deliverance.

I wasn't quite sure how to be present. I am from a Midwestern church background that certainly believed in the devil (I remember getting a stack of cards with Scripture verses to be used against certain temptations that was called an Anti-Satan Kit.) We would sometimes hear extraordinary stories of occult activity from guest speakers who served as missionaries or lived in cities like San Francisco. But in our tradition the casting out of demons did not play a common role. I pictured in my mind dramatic confrontations and bold prayer, but this event was not that way.

When the few of us gathered around this man, we asked him questions—what did he find troubling, what steps toward help had he already attempted, what help from God did he desire? We read Scripture together. We prayed, and asked God to deliver him from whatever kind of spiritual oppression or opposition that he was facing. I did not have any internal clarity about the exact nature of his problem or to what extent some kind of demonic presence ...

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Spring
Spring 2012: Spiritual Warfare  | Posted
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