I believe in the force of gravity. My inability to fly is proof of that! I can’t see it but its effect is unavoidable. I am just as convinced that there are unseen spiritual forces at work in our world too, both for good and for ill, and I’ve witnessed both at work over the years. 

I am only reiterating what the Bible teaches of course but I believe it’s worth highlighting this given the fact that we are in the season of Lent, that time in the church’s calendar when we remember Jesus spent 40 days in the desert being tempted by the devil.

It’s obvious that the spirit world features highly in the teaching of the New Testament where we find they are given an ‘astonishing collection’ of titles such as ‘angels’, ‘principalities’ and ‘powers’. Paul even talks of the devil as ‘the god of this world’.

Jesus certainly believed there were malignant powers at work in our world. He spoke of ‘the devil and his angels’ for example and just before His crucifixion he warned his friend Peter to beware of what the devil was about to do. The Message translation puts it this way:

‘Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I've prayed for you in particular that you do not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.’

We are living in disturbing not to mention perilous times, both internationally and within the United Kingdom. Yeats’ famous words spring to mind ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’. Given all this I believe we should consider praying as we haven’t prayed for a long time. We need the kind of ‘divine intervention’ the legendary Douglas Bader spoke of about when he described the surprise he and others felt when the German offensive against Britain did not follow after the evacuation of Dunkirk.

History shows us that God’s ‘Guiding Hand’ has intervened time and time again, thereby proving that He is in ultimate control of world events. It also tells us that Jesus ‘hit the nail on the head’ when He said we should pray that we would be delivered from evil. 

Given this then, we should pray for those who govern us that they will be given ‘wisdom from on high’ as they negotiate the economic and social challenges facing us as a nation. We should also pray that other world leaders will be guided in ways that lead to peace not conflict.

It would be good to pray that the church will prove a powerful influence for good too.  It has been in the past, according to Richie Sunak who recently highlighted its role in creating a multi-cultural Britain. “You can be a practising Hindu and a proud Briton, as I am,” he said, “Or a devout Muslim and a patriotic citizen, as so many are. Or a committed Jewish person and the heart of your local community, all underpinned by the tolerance of our established Christian church. We are a country where we love our neighbours. We are building Britain together.” So let’s get building – but before we do let’s get praying.

Rob James is a Baptist pastor, writer and broadcaster