Prayer and the Word of God: Defenses Against the Evil One

Weapons to Use Against the Devil

The arms of combat against the forces of evil must be used by Christians in their totality and unity. Above all, a habitus is necessary; that is, a way of thinking, loving, and acting that conforms to the life of Jesus. A simple and humble soul totally confident in God — as Jesus had in his earthly life — learns how to relate to our Creator. The freedom to choose enables man to resist the Devil, because the Devil can tempt us, but he can never oblige us to do his will.

The arms of combat and defense that Jesus has left us consist of the Word of God, prayer, fasting, and the sacraments.

In using these weapons of defense, we must guard against a superstitious attitude toward their efficacy; that would be a magical concept. In other words, we must not believe that our religious practices dispel demons. On the basis of biblical testimony, the Devil is expelled solely by faith and total trust in Jesus.

Our Lady and all the saints show us how communion with God makes the human being, a creature inferior to Satan, stronger than the Satan himself. This accelerates the Evil One’s intense hostility toward man, which he puts in motion when the person he has attacked decides to return to God with all his being through the use of these weapons.

The Word of God, the Gospel

The Word of God listened to consistently and repeatedly in the course of the day is the inspiration and the weapon that overcomes doubts, anxieties, recurring thoughts, fits of depression, suicide, anger, confusion, and all the disorder that Satan can generate in the mind. Indeed, the attack of the Evil One begins by penetrating the core of the will and the free will — the mind and the intelligence — influencing and subjugating them until he can arrive at the soul and then accompany it to evil.

Often those who go to a priest exorcist are prayerful, go to Mass on Sunday and sometimes also during the week, but they complain of sudden awakenings at night, tormenting dreams and obsessive recurring thoughts, doubts about God and their faith in Him. It must be emphasized that these persons do not participate or assist at esoteric rituals, not even as a joke. Usually, however, they are lacking in involvement with the Word of God, that is, with Jesus Christ, the center and foundation of the Christian life, Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

In the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus was baptized and led by the Spirit of God into the desert, He was tempted by Satan. In that case, victory over the demon did not occur through prayer. Three times Jesus cited Sacred Scripture in order to resist the temptations and refute the lies of the enemy. Jesus affirmed: “It is written . . .” (Luke 4:1–13). The Word of God was His instrument of truth against the lies and provocations of the enemy.

Jesus, in making Himself man, became one like us to show us how to keep the enemy away. He kept His distance from Satan, citing the source of wisdom and discernment: the Word of God. And He teaches us that, in order to bear our earthly life with serenity, it is always necessary to have His words in mind, so that in every adversity the Word of God comes to our mind and, guided by the Holy Spirit, we may know how to choose what is true and good. It is fundamental that the Gospel be imprinted on our mind, the seat of the will and of free will. Satan knows that if he succeeds in confusing the free will by turning it aside and distancing it from the will of God through sin, he can also corrupt and damage the soul of man. The Word of God listened to and lived each day in concrete choices becomes our defense from the snares of the Evil One.


We often take for granted that we know what prayer is, but in reality we do not. From childhood, we were taught to say prayers in the morning and in the evening, but perhaps we did not understand the value or the meaning of it.

At the Last Supper Jesus said: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). With these words, Jesus is telling us that God the Father has established an eternal alliance with man, a relationship of faith founded on the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. This alliance is maintained only if, through the Gospel, there is a response from man. This response occurs in prayer that has been stirred up by the teaching of the Word of God. To pray is to converse with God after having listened to Him. Jesus tells us: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).

This article is from An Exorcist Explains How to Heal the Possessed. Click image to learn more.

Prayer is also praise and thanksgiving. This is the prayer Jesus prefers: that He is thanked continuously for life, for what we are, and for what we have.

Prayer is also an invocation or supplication for help. If it bursts from a soul purified by the sacrament of Reconciliation, the prayer is immediately heard because the person praying is in communion with Jesus and He is particularly attentive to humble souls (Luke 18:7–8). The Word is not only a voice; it is a person in flesh and blood, God Himself made man in the person of Jesus (John 12:44–45, 48–50). To listen to Jesus is to listen to the Invisible One, the Omnipotent One, the One made visible and reachable.

Prayer manifests trust, confidence, supplication, praise, and joy and is expressed not only in words but, above all, in the dis­position of the soul. Prayer is more effective when it has a precise intention and demonstrates communion with God. In this way, it becomes a force against instinctive states such as solitude, fear, anxiety, confusion, and disorder; and it places everything under the guidance of Jesus, who helps us to overcome human weaknesses and the temptations of the Evil One.

Our prayer, however, cannot be a direct instrument of libera­tion from the enemy, since we cannot combat him by ourselves. As human creatures, we are weaker beings, inferior to the angelic creatures. To believe that we can liberate ourselves from the Evil One solely through our own prayer would be a sin of arrogance, since we cannot expel the Evil One with our own strength alone. Indeed, by driving away the enemy, we would be making his wickedness even more effective in our life. Therefore, it is only prayer that can expel the demon — that is, insofar as it is a call for the intervention of Jesus, Mary, and the saints.

At times, we might offer a prayer of benediction or liberation and it is not heard. It is not because of our spiritual condition at that particular moment that our prayer seems ineffectual; in reality, it is our unpardoned sin that impedes the action of God.

I have been able to verify through the persons I assist that the majority of spiritual disturbances occur through the conduct of a muddled or hypocritical spiritual life, that is, through inconstancy in prayer, inconstancy in the encounter with Jesus in the sacraments, and inconstancy in listening to the Word of God. In these cases, to assist our prayer, it is helpful to become familiar with a suitable catechism and to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. The efficacy of this last remedy depends on a coherent and faithful Christian life.

If prayer springs forth from a soul in communion with God, it is immediately effective against the attacks of the enemy. I had the case of a man who suddenly went from extremely devout to refusing the sacred. His sister, also very faithful, pointed out this apparently unexplainable change. I counseled her to invoke mentally the intervention of Mary Immaculate precisely at the moment of her brother’s visceral anger. She told me that, as a result of the prayer, her brother calmed down at times and at times grew worse. This was proof that the change was not chosen by the brother; rather, it was the consequence of the Devil’s vexation. The brother, in fact, was not able to know about his sister’s mental prayer.

There was also the case of a five-year-old boy whose mother had taught him how to pray the Hail Mary. I was called because the child saw shadows around his bed. I told the parents to maintain themselves in the state of grace with God through the sacrament of Reconciliation in order to render the prayer more powerful, and that, when this phenomenon reoccurred, to invoke the intervention of our Mother in Heaven.

After a week they called me, saying that the phenomenon was reduced but not ended. I asked if they had prayed with the boy. They said no. I invited them to pray with him when the phenomenon occurred. They did. They told me that as soon as the child said “Hail,” the shadows no longer returned. That “Hail” alone prayed by the little child in trust and in genuine and total faith was enough to chase away the powers of darkness.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that

to attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions they demand, is to fall into superstition (cf. Matt. 23:16–22). (no. 2111)

The prayer that comes forth from a humble heart and is in communion with God is not only efficacious; it also becomes an instrument of perception for unmasking the enemy and his actions.

Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in An Exorcist Explains How to Heal the Possessedwhich is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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Fr. Paolo Carlin, of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, is Doctor of Moral Theology. He was the chaplain of the State Police of the Provinces of Ravenna and Rimini from 2010 to 2014 and was then appointed diocesan exorcist of the diocese of Faenza-Modigliana. Fr. Carlin is a member of the International Exorcist Association (IEA, officially recognized on June 13, 2014 by the Holy See), acting as counselor, official spokesman and press officer.

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