Today over half of the world’s population lives in large cities. Many Christians think cities are by nature, evil places. If they were asked, they would say the city is a curse, not a blessing – A breeding ground for poverty and homelessness. However, that is not God’s view. After all, the human story begins in a garden and ends in the great city, the New Jerusalem!

Most cities seem to hold a collective vision, and there is usually both a good and evil side to that vision. I believe God has participated in our cities by stationing high-ranking guardian angels over each one. However, Satan will do anything in his power to accuse your city and to malign its redemptive gift.

The experience of Elisha’s servant is recorded in 2 Kings 6:16-17: “So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. ‘And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  If our eyes were opened like Elisha’s servant, what would we see? Would God reveal a divine purpose? How would we react once we were aware of that purpose?

The Purpose For Your City
When traveling through your city have you ever asked, “Why is this town here?” God always has a reason for everything He does, and the reason your town is where it is usually stems from the geography of the location, such as a mountain pass, rich soil, mineral wealth, or a river crossing. The earth has been lovingly crafted as a habitation for people. God anticipated the development of your city. And He marked out a place in it just for you.

Consider the city of Los Angeles; on one hand, it is a technological tower of Babel, polluting the world with its communications and entertainment industry. On the other hand, it is a city with a gift in communications. Los Angeles is a city blessed by God with certain resources that can either be perverted – or used to further the kingdom of God. Even the name of the city speaks of its destiny: “Los Angeles” is Spanish for “The Angels.” The word ‘angel’ in the Greek is angeloss and means, messenger. I believe God designed Los Angeles to be a messenger, communicating the good news in the midst of an end time harvest.

Indeed, this plan of God has already enjoyed success several times in history: In 1906 through the Azusa Street Revival; in 1949 through an evangelical renewal leading to the birth of such groups as Campus Crusade For Christ and the launching of the Billy Graham Crusades as a national ministry; and in 1972 with the beginning of the Jesus Movement. But today the city is torn by violence, poverty and homelessness while it pumps pornography into the minds of millions.

Rebuilding The Walls
God desires to rebuild the walls of our cities, and I believe it must begin with the leadership in His churches. But it seems as if the Church today remains asleep as the world around us falls deeper into sin and despair. If the Church would only wake from its slumber God would pour out revelation concerning His redemptive plans for our cities. It was to the Jews living in the wicked city of Babylon that God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

Unless you understand Biblical warfare you will be frustrated, confused, and ineffective in your ministry to your city. You may be attempting to coordinate Christian concerts, pioneer a church, or reach businessmen, but the principle is still the same: We need to gain a place of authority over Satan before we will see the full fruit of our labors.

Binding The Strong Man
Jesus said, “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matt. 12.-29) Discerning the nature of principalities at work in your city can be as simple as asking God to tell you what’s going on. But God also wants us to use our minds in reasoning through the things He has already taught us and then applying them. Ask yourself the question: “Why is this city here? Is it merely a product of geography and commerce, or does God have a redemptive purpose in mind for it?” Your city is also God’s city. And the people are made in His image. Satan is an invader and a usurper operating in our territory. God did not give demons authority over your city. They have infested the earth’s atmosphere since before the creation of mankind, but they can only extend their authority into a town or an institution when people give them that authority through their sin.

This is our planet, and the only authority Satan has, he has gained through deception of human authority. He initially gains this authority when, at some point in history, human beings believe his lie, receive his accusation, and are seduced into an allegiance to his plan. An obvious example would be the spirit of greed which has infected our political system and still dominates the culture of politics to this day. But what can we do about this today? Scripture gives us an answer. Through repentance, reconciliation, and prayer, this present generation can work to repair the broken-down walls of the city.

Bringing Down Strongholds
“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” (Is. 58:12) The strongholds that bind our urban populations have power, but they are not invincible. They’re vulnerable, and, if we move wisely, we can overthrow them. In his book, “Taking Our Cities For God” by John Dawson, he shares a five-fold approach to bringing down our cities’ strongholds:

1) Begin with worship and praise.
Everything born of God goes through a very natural process: worship, conception, gestation, travail, and birth. So always begin with worship. It’s in the place of thanksgiving and praise that God conceives within us His mind and heart for our city. No longer join with Satan, the accuser of your city, but lift up your heart in thanksgiving as you declare by faith the effect that the gospel will have! Do you want revival in your city? Do you want to defeat the powers of darkness? The way to get rid of darkness is to turn on the light, to establish the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people through praise!

2) Wait on the Lord for insight.
Don’t rely on finite reasoning or human cunning. If we listen to God with childlike dependency, He will guide us into victory. Breaking the strongholds that bind our urban populations will take prayer that will flood our hearts with conviction of sin. We must see ourselves in the light of God’s true holiness and rid ourselves of every hindrance through open confession and repentance. Even then, it may take days of prayer to receive a clear picture of the principalities and powers attempting to control our city. The Lord will expose the tactics of the enemy and give us strategies for his defeat. When we wait on the Lord and give Him room to move – He moves. This was an important factor and is a characteristic of every divine visitation in history.

3) Identify with the sins of the city.
The great intercessors of the Bible all approached God with a sense of shame and sincere repentance. (As the prophet Daniel did as recorded in the 9th chapter of Daniel. “O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.”) Our communication with God must be rooted in the truth – the eternal truth of His holy standards and the awful truth about our society as God sees it. The intercessor experiences the broken heart of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The intercessor also identifies with the sin of the people, because the intercessor has personally contributed to God’s grief. In responding to the broken heart of God, we must identify with the sins of the city in personal and corporate repentance. It is only when God has cleansed our own wicked hearts that participation in the redeeming work of intercession becomes possible. It is then that the power to change history is released through prayer.

4) Overcome evil with good.
Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) Overcoming evil with good is not merely a spiritual technique, but represents a means of applying the victory Jesus already gained. When we come against the enemy, we by faith manifest the aspect of Christ’s character that is the opposite of the temptation facing us. Take, for instance, Jesus’ statement regarding a particular evil spirit. “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matt. 1 7:21) The admonition to abstain from food is probably because the power of God was hindered until they yielded themselves further to the control of the Holy Spirit through a particular step of obedience – a step involving the opposite spirit, an act of self-control.

5) Travail until birth.
There are times when God’s Spirit stirs our souls through times of intense travail. We must travail in prayer until God’s purposes are birthed. That which is conceived of God will eventually come to birth. When Christians of a city unite in spiritual travail, it is an indicator of impending revival. When you truly love somebody, you don’t just mention that person before the Lord. You pray until that which is needed happens, until the answer comes, until breakthrough. Love settles for nothing less than victory. If you are praying for a family member who is in bondage, you are not released from the burden until that person is saved, set free, and set in order. This is the way we should pray for our cities. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7)

The level of a spiritual victory for your city is directly affected by two spiritual conditions: the intensity of your desire and the size of your faith. God wants to see if you want the minimum or the maximum. Do you want institutional survival – or citywide revival? Will you and I be prepared to pay the price for victory over our cities? There is a high price to be paid in personal discipline, prayer, and obedience. Like you, I live on a dying planet, a dark place polluted with demons, but growing in my heart is a fierce joy. Jesus came to reveal the Father, to atone for us, and to teach us how to live. He also came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has commissioned us to do likewise.

I’m not suggesting that Christians take over the city in a governmental sense or even that Christian action can halt all the institutional and personal evil of those who have rejected Christ. I’m suggesting that the power of the resurrected Christ is released when God’s people are united in citywide prayer.

Business as usual is not good enough. God has much more in mind. Are our expectations of God too low? Are we participating in the sin of unbelief when we entertain despair or indifference over the moral, environmental, social, and spiritual needs of our cities?

The power of the gospel has radically impacted the life of cities for over 2,000 years, but most importantly our cities must become places of harvest. In the early 70’s we saw the youth of the counter-culture swept into the Kingdom, but that was a long time ago. There is now an entire generation missing the true gospel message! Today’s youth culture needs a revelation of Jesus! Citywide prayer gatherings should be springing up all over America! Tears of repentance should be flowing! And if the Church doesn’t wake up we will miss the day of God’s merciful visitation. God is definitely up to something. Let’s get involved and take back our cities for God!

This article includes excerpts from Taking Our Cities For God by John Dawson. ©1989 Creation House Publishers, Lake Mary, Florida. Used by permission from Last Days Ministries. http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Groups/1000002797/Last_Days_Ministries.aspx

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