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In this Spiritual Warfare article © George Hartwell, August, 2002 (all rights reserved) we find out why pride and arrogance (as in "angels who did not keep their proper domain" - Jude 6) leads to a fall.
Another web site with an extensive Bible study on spiritual warfare seperating bible-based principles from harmful non-biblical spiritual warfare teachings can be found at

Other teachers - John Dawson, Leanne Payne, John Paul Jackson, John and Paula Sandford, and Judson Cornwall - see great danger in 'binding principalities.' Sometimes painful and embarassing experiences have lead them to this understanding. 

Leanne Payne was subject to high levels of spiritual attack when Christians prayed for her conference 'binding' the principalities in the area. She now teaches against this practice.

Judson Cornwall was rebuked by the Lord for 'worshipping demons.'  He often publically bound the demons that interefered with the worship service he was leading. He was told that the demons enjoy the attention - 'worship' - they get from such prayers. 

John Dawson participated in a powerful outdoor conference and worship service that included native Maori chiefs from the area.  In this time of great outflow of the Spirit of God a native chief took authority over a spirit believed to be over a local mountain.  This chief became deathly ill immediately that he did this and much prayer was required to restore him.  John Dawson believes in "Taking Our Cities for God" by healng wounds between groups.  Authority over Territorial Spirits

John Paul Jackson in "Needless Casualties of War" describes a congregation that began 'binding' the 'spirit of abortion' over their city.  The unexpected result was that pregnant women in the congregation had trouble carrying children to term.  This problem corrected itself when the congregation confessed the pride and repented of this form of 'Spiritual Warfare.'

It seems that Spiritual Warfare involving binding of Principalites fails in the intended purpose and brings about a successful counterattack by evil spiritual forces. 

Other respected teachers teach forms of 'spiritual warfare' that lead to defeat

Peter Wagner is one highly regarded Christians who continues to teach and believe that "binding" Satan or high level principalities or powers is the way to do Spiritual Warfare. some form of this view is shared by almost all Christian leaders within the charismatic and renewal movement.  This one confusion, this one misguided teaching, this one misunderstanding can ruin God's work and allow darkness unnatural access to an individual's life, in a marriage, in a family, in a town, in a city, in a nation and in the Charismatic / renewal / 'river' streams of Christianity.

The reason these methods exist and will continue to survive is as an expression of the human spirit's rebellion against the religious spirit and the performance orientation in our families and church.  In frustration the human becomes angry with God.  We cannot admit to our anger at God.  We supress and deny our anger at God.  We express our anger at God in this and other practices that attribute too much power to Satan and give his forces too much attantion - which they love and they take as worship.  (See Judson Cornwall above.)

Unhealthy 'Spiritual Warfare' invites access by the enemy

Unhealthy access means that God's supplies do not get through.  Imagine being on the front lines of a large army and being told that the enemy across from you was also behind you.  Special forces, irregular units were targetting supply lines of ammunition and food, your leaders were being targetted by these forces as well and your positions were being mapped out.  As the fight continues you are going to be discouraged by lack of supplies, confused by lack of leadership and frightened by the accuracy of enemy fire.  That is what it feels like when towns, churches, couples or individuals undertake to 'bind' Satan, to 'bind' principalities over territories, to 'bind' higher powers - thinking they are doing 'spiritual warfare.'  Really they are doing 'shoot your self in the foot' warfare.  They have invited attack by invoking the enamy forces.

What Healthy Spiritual Warfare look like

In my view there are healthy forms of Spiritual WarfareHealthy spiritual warfare will have less focus on evil, Satan, and dark powers.  This will be seen in words counts.  The word count of names of God will greatly exceed  names of Satan, or evil principalities or powers.  This will indicate a focus of attention (and worship) toward God.

Names invoke spiritual forces.  What you name is what you call forth.  God inhabits the praises of His people.  So gratitude, thankfulness and praise expressed for who God is and what God has done invokes the presence of God.  The nature of that presence relects the language you use.  Praise for God's healing invokes a 'healing annointing.'

Our language is important.  Life and death are in the tongue.  Name (invoke, call forth) love, life and God and you will experience love, life and God.  Name (invoke,call forth, pray against, bind, take authority over) that which is evil, dark and of death and you will experience evil, dark and death. 

Deliverance Ministry in Counselling

I am not against person to person deliverance ministry.  This warning against 'binding' Satan and 'binding' principalites and powers in high places does not apply to ground level person to person ministry.  Jesus did it.  Jesus authorized us to 'cast out demons' in His name.  This personal ministry is not the same as doing 'warfare' against higher levels powers of darkness.  Person to person is okay.  Person against high level powers is definately, always and under all circumstances an arrogant act, an unhealthy practice and will result in undetected counter-attack. (Exception is a power trying to move into your house, church or owned property when you have not invoked them and are trusting God to protect you.  In this instance, they have crossed the boundary lines.)
The Bible promises delerance from evil for those who call upon the name of the Lord.  Deliverance ministry within the Charismatic and Pentacostal movements has involved taking authority in the name of Jesus over evil spirits (named) and commanding them to leave.  The fruitfulness of this approach has been mixed - some good and some bad fruit based on people's self-report.
Neil Anderson calls this a 'power encounter' and has introduced into the Body of Christ the 'truth encounter.'  It is important to know that there is not only one way to do deliverance.
Dr. Ed Smith has opened up a third front in a listening prayer protocol for inner healing and deliverance.  That provides a third approach to deliverance.
My (George Hartwell) 'gentle deliverance' methods provide even a forth method of doing personal deliverance work.  I have never observed the 'mixed fruit' with gentle deliverance that I have seen with the charismatic 'power encounter' methods.  The accuracy, depth and speed of my Life Trasnformation Therapy approach is testified to by experienced practitioners of the power encounter method.  See Feedback on an intensive therapeutic retreat.
Within a counselling session there is sometimes a presence of evil.  At times my client may not be aware of this. Rather than naming the spirit and commanding it to leave, I ask and allow Jesus to do the work of deliverance. I use protocols such as: gentle deliverance, cleanse the temple, Jesus in Between, and Jesus the Life.
These methods invoke Jesus, depend on His intervention not our authority.  The fruit?  There is nothing but positive fruit from these different methods.  As one pastor observing this method said: "This has been quite amazing. It has seemed to short-circuit stuff quite immensely. It has been very powerful, useful and exciting to see it go. We spent a lot of time (200 hours plus) kicking out a lot of demons. You have revisited the places and achieved what we did not achieve." See Feedback on an intensive therapeutic retreat.
Because there is Biblical grounds for taking authority over evil spirits (in one who has submitted to yourself for deliverance ministry), the power encounter is not wrong.  There are different ways to bring about deliverance and they are effective and more consistently bring positive results, with less naming of evil spirits, less confusion of clients and less exhaustion of those in ministry.
Note: Neil Anderson is another one who has found and taught an alternative to Pentacostal deliverance ministry.  He focusses on the truth and one's identity rather than on naming and commanding demons.

In summary traditional deliverance ministry is on sound Biblical grounds and has had some success but it has been a mixed success.  Alternatives to this approach can be more effective and Christ-centered in bringing about deliverance.  In the end these new methods give God more glory and darkness gets less attention.

Prayer Guidelines


You can see it from the way people pray. Some plead. One can hear the whine in their voice. Some mobilize numbers. Their logic is the more making a request the more likely it is to be heard. People speak and act as if prayer is changing God's mind.

People who believe that prayer is putting pressure on God try to build up numbers of people praying. They look for the big name pastor to pray.

Whenever our model sets up God as our adversary - the one opposed to our request - we our thinking wrong. We try to control, manipulate and bargain with God. The more committed we become to this model of prayer the more prayer begins to take on the characteristics of witchcraft.


A magical view of God

We are thinking like children. We are using magical thinking. 

We feel like children. We feel weak. We feel that God has all the power. A scripture like "With God all things are possible," looked at without understanding and wisdom, supports this magical thinking. 



God wants mature sons, not perpetual children. Repent of thinking of prayer as pleading with God to do something that you want. A more grown up perspective is to think of yourself as a partner - in cooperation with God.

As a partner with God your job is to see that His will is done on earth. As God's ambassador you will pray in concert with His will.

As His active agent you listen for His guidance and wait for His inspiration.



This one guideline could be a revolution in your practice of prayer. Think how your prayer life would change if you only prayer what you know is God's will.

You would stop being a loose canon in prayer and be aligned on targets that the commander in chief authorizes.

You would not pray just because someone requests it. You first check it with your commander: "Does this prayer represent your will, Father?"



Do not use prayer to control other people. If out thinking is that prayer controls God then it is easy to start believing that prayer controls people. We start praying that people conform to our plan and image for them.

We might be praying that our wife our husband change. Changing people is God's responsibility. We need to keep hands off.

We might be praying that we, ourselves, change. We want to conform to our own image of what we should be like. We may want to better live up to other's expectations of us. Changing people is God's responsibility and we need to leave ourselves in God's hands.

No to witchcraft prayer.

Scripture says that rebellion is as witchcraft. Witchcraft is using magical techniques. The techniques of magic supposedly give men power over supernatural powers and use them for human ends.

The delusion behind magical practices is that supernatural powers are not manipulated. The powers of darkness gain control of the human who attempts to use demonic techniques and powers.

Neither is God open to manipulation. God is spirit. God is who he is. God will be who He will be. There is no technique to control God.


God respects our freedom. We need to do so as well. Respect other's freedom.

We need to repent of all witchcraft forms of prayer. Ask forgiveness for the pride and arrogance behind this way of thinking. Stop using prayer to control oneself or others.

The humble approach to praying for others is to admit that we can't change them. You are not God. God is God. So bless what God is doing in their life and leave them in God's hands.

Look in scripture for how Paul prays for people. Use his apostolic prayers as a model for how to pray for others. Begin to focus on what God is doing rather that demanding specific changes in a person's character. God's agenda, not yours.

Get healed

The need to control runs deep in our lives. When we fear we control. Out of a desire to be loved, we control. To avoid weakness or vulnerability, we control.

There is a purification, sanctification process needed to change our long held patterns of control. These are rooted deep in our heart. We can't change our heart.

Some Christian counsellors will facilitate this process. In Listening Prayer Therapy, my own approach, we discover root issues of the heart. We bring them to God in Prayer Encounters. The God brings truth, freedom and healing to our inner lives.


Do not pray for specific outcomes in situations like a job interview, a school test, a crucial game. Don't pray that the person will get the job, ace the test or win the game. To demand specific outcomes is to take the place of God.

It is interesting to me the John Voaden, the exemplary basketball coach, never focused his team on the game outcome. He asked them to focus on their specific assigned role in the game. He wanted them to be proud of themselves is they did well the role assigned to them - even if the score went against the team.

Instead of specific outcomes, I pray for the state of mind or attitude of the person in these situations. Then leave the outcome to God. (See "Job Interview Prayer.")

Living with Freedom

Because God loves us we live with freedom. He honours our freedom to choose. Because he wants our love, He gives us choice.

Our prayers need to honour God's freedom. We submit to His authority by leaving room for Him to act in any situation that we pray about. One way to do this is not to demand a specific outcome.

When we demand a specific outcome we are taking control. We are playing God. We are not leaving room for freedom of God and others in the situation.


Stop using prayer to control outcomes. Leave the outcome with God. Let go of the control of outcomes.

Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. He said that certain attitudes are blessed. Instead of demanding outcomes, pray for Godly attitudes.

God is concerned about the state of our heart. So make that the focus of your prayer. Pray that in this situation or in dealing with the outcome your attitude would please God.


New Identity

The Christian life is about being given a new identity. Our part in the Christian life is to participate in the process of putting to death the old nature and putting on the new nature.

The old nature partook of certain attitudes that were not based on God's truth and God's Holy nature. There is zero tolerance in heaven for these old sinful attitudes. God's holiness is a consuming fire and this holiness would consume any attitude not welcome in heaven.

So if you have entered into the Kingdom of God by accepting Jesus Christ, you need to get new clothes - new attitudes. You have been given the right to become sons of God - meaning taking on His nature. The attitude of prideful control does not get into heaven. Let it go!


Avoid is using prayer to harm or destroy people or property. Don't call down fire on psychics and palm readers, for example. Remember what Jesus said about the wrong spirit when the Sons of Thunder wanted to call down fire on some Samaritan villages that rejected Jesus.




I definitely recommend avoid as far as possible prayer that focuses attention on Satan, evil or the demonic.

For example, do not use rail against, bind or attack Satan (Jude 9).  Our authority is to deal with demons in ministry to persons.  We do not have authority to rail against, bind or attack evil forces over territory or broad topics such as 'I bind the Spirit of Abortion over my city.'  We have been mistaught regarding Jesus statement that "whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven."  This gavc authority to the new community established around Yeshua to establish rules for the community. 

For a suggested prayer of protection see: Morning Prayer and Listening Time.


Leanne Payne, Judson Cornwall and John Paul Jackson all have warned against the prayer that focuses on Satan. Leanne Payne and John Paul Jackson found that binding principalities and powers does not provide protection - it attracts attack! Judson Cornwall learned that interrupting a worship service to bind evil powers actually attracted demons to the worship service - which loved the attention. I recommend against prayers that use the concept of 'binding.'

I now consider every form of prayer that takes the initiative to directly address, pray against or bind Satan - or principalities or powers of evil - to be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and to attract enemy attack. The enemies right to attack would appear to be based on the fact that we do not have the right to engage in commanding angels that are not directly in our face.

Because of the horrific consequences of this unwise type of prayer I would avoid group and people that do this.

Better ways to pray of protection in the article on PROTECTION.

Instead when one senses an evil spirit pray for the opposite spirit. Focus on positive objectives. Live out of God's Holy Spirit. Focus on God.


12 Further Prayer Guidelines

1.  Do not listen to or talk about problems (health, economic, political) without prayer (or a statement of faith.) Listening to someone's problems without faith or prayer - can be a denial of God's power and can weaken your faith. Turn complaints into Prayers. Philippians 4:8 &ldots; meditate on these things.

2.   Avoid TV, Radio, and newspaper NEWS - usually bad news creating fear and helplessness. People do get anxious and depressed from the worlds version of NEWS. When watching or listening to news you can silently bless the people in the news story. If you are not going to pray about it don't focus attention on bad news.

3.   Do not worry about things. Worry is using our gift of faith to do the devil's work. Better to pray that to worry. See Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God."

4.   In times of prayer detailed description of problems creates unbelief. The longest description of a problem to Jesus (Matthew 17:15, Mark 9:17, 18, 21,22, Luke 9:39) results in a rebuke of the unbelieving generation Luke 9:41, a confrontation of the man's unbelief - Mark 9:23, and an explanation to the apostles that points to their unbelief - Matt. 17:20. Don't create vivid pictures of problems if you want people to have vivid faith in God's solution.

5. When you pray don't create a vivid picture of the problem - use your creative faith imagination to create solutions not problems. God does not need your description of the problem he understands it better than you do! Pray in words and images that are positive and faith building. Don't pray the problem!

6. Prayer works through faith. If you sense unbelief, if you lack faith, it is better to confess this to God and ask for faith than to move ahead with pretend faith. Pray if you can expect and visualize a positive result.

7.   There is power in agreement in prayer. Ask to see if people are in agreement. If someone is not in agreement, pray later with those who are in agreement. Prayer doesn't work with pretend or forced agreement. Never force prayer on those who do not agree with you.

8.   One way to build faith is to understanding the scriptural basis for your prayer. It is worth making the effort to link prayer requests to Biblical promises. Seek God, that is listen to God, for the right prayer or promise. Even better use listening prayer to confirm these promises. See Confirming a Biblical Promise. 

9.   Don't pray without wisdom and discernment. Don't assume that you know God's will. Listen. If someone is dying I want some discernment whether this is a sickness unto death or if God wants to raise him or her up to health. Don't rush into prayer without listening.

10.  When a group prays God sometimes encourages the group by granting a vision or a word to someone. Sharing this brings assurance to the group.

11.   Persistence in prayer means daily. Be ready to PERSIST.

12.   Be prepared to stick up for your prayers in public. You need to speak up to counteract words of doubt or unbelief. Rebuke negative words. Make faith statements.

The Prayer Series

1. Spiritual Warfare
2. Job Interview Prayer
3. Safe Prayers of Protection
4.  Prayer is a Life-style
5. Faith of the Heart
6. How to pray for difficult people
7. How to pray in a personal crisis
8. How to pray for physical Healing
9. How to break Curses


For Sessions with George, Retreats or Phone Counseling: counselling

(416) 234-1850 for local calls in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville or Brampton.
 1 (877) 854-3990 for long distance.

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