Breaking Strongholds in Your City
Breaking Strongholds in Your City, edited by Peter Wagner is a book introducing and encouraging the idea of "spiritual mapping." Spiritual mapping seems to be a relatively new word in the Christian world. It was first introduced around the year 1990, and since then, has continued to spread throughout the world. Peter Wagner saw that a book by various evangelists, (who know and use spiritual mapping) would open the average Christian to an often neglected aspect of spiritual warfare.
Spiritual mapping is the researching of a city to discover any inroads Satan has made which prevent the spread of the gospel and the evangelism of a city for Christ. "Superimposing our understanding of forces and events in the spiritual domain onto places and circumstance in the material world.(32)
Spiritual mapping is best done in a city, or a large town, because "wherever people congregate in force, demons will be attracted to the scent"(41). Cities are places where Satan can lead people astray from the truth, and harden their hearts towards the gospel, so that when missionaries do come, the people will reject the truth.
Spiritual mapping allows the missionary, or pastor, through prayer and research "to see the world around us as it really is, not as it appears to be"(49). That is, to see the city the way God see's the city.
Spiritually mapping a city is easier said than done, as most things are. "Spiritual mapping combines research, divine revelation, and confirmatory evidence in order to provide complete and exact data concerning the identity, strategies and methods employed by spiritual forces of darkness to influence the people and the churches of a given religion"(177).
Before even thinking about spiritual mapping a city, it is best to talk to people it the city and pray. Prayer is very important in spiritual mapping, and in every part of a Christian's life.
Each city has its own personality. Some cities are quiet, while others are loud. Some are more strongly under Satan's power than others. There are several things that may contribute to the state of a city. One of them has to do with the founder. When mapping a city, it is best to find out as much as possible about the founder of the city, and its history. Other good things to look for in a city are cult centers, or places where Satan's work is clearly seen. The book gave the example of some statues that were clearly in cursing positions.
It is important to"identify the powers behind the formation of a culture"(81). One city, founded by a pagan was constructed in such a way, that in the cities center, the buildings made an upside down cross. There were also three parks six blocks apart and other things that might show a demonic stronghold on the city. It is important to remember that the map of the city may or may not mean the city has demonic stronghold. All spiritual mapping must be accompanied with prayer and Bible reading. That is the only way to be sure that the information one receives is accurate and true.
Many good Christian people in the world today do not see of realize that there are strongholds of evil in cities. They seem to think that whatever happens is a coincidence, or just city life. "We see what we are taught to see"(78). People do not see the devil at work, even when it is right beside them. This is something that the Christian world needs to learn. I need to be more aware of the spiritual war going on around me. I think Churches should teach its members that there is a spiritual war going on all around, and how to pray with that in mind.
One of the authors of the book wrote, "as accurate as spiritual warfare mapping might be, it is my opinion that without an explicit focus on evangelism, it has little meaning"(172). Just spiritually mapping a city will do nothing, other than let one see the city clearly. It is the evangelistic purpose behind the mapping that makes the entire idea valuable. Without evangelism, prayer, and church planting, the map is totally useless. The entire point of spiritual mapping is to find where Satan's strongholds are, and break them through the blood of Jesus.
As one of the author of the book put, we "should not shrink back from taking a long, hard look at the spiritual obstacles that stand between it and fulfillment of the great commission"(33). In Matthew 28,Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, so that is what we must do, and cities are a good place to make disciples.
While one is mapping, and doing research, it is important to remember that "culture is not the enemy, but Satan is." (58) As the Apostle Paul said, and the book paraphrased, "our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the demonic powers that rule over people"(145). This is very important. When I go to another country and start seeing things I am not used to, and people who seem to be wrong, I will remember that it is not the people I am fighting, but the devil.
When I first picked up Breaking Strongholds in Your City, I really was not to excited about reading it, but as I read, I found that it very interesting. I learned a lot from the book, the first thing I learned is what spiritual mapping is, and what it does. When I am a missionary, I am going to suggest this method in order to reach more people for Christ more effectively. Something I though was really good in the book was the emphases on Bible reading and prayer. Prayer is very important for not just missionaries, but for all Christians all the time.
I never thought about praying for cities until reading this book. I will pray for cities around the world, that God will be able to break strongholds and that His name will be glorified. The spiritual war is won, Jesus triumphed, and it is our job to tell the world the gospel, of His victory so that people can be set free from the bordage of this world.