Question: Is Satan able to influence while we pray? Can he cause us to think evil of the people we are praying for?
Answer: There have certainly been times when I’ve been praying and I’ve felt that temptation to be distracted by something else and to quit focusing on my conversation with God. I have even had thoughts enter my mind like, “You don’t really like this person anyways, why would you pray for them?” or “That person doesn’t deserve your prayers it won’t even help.” Is it possible that these thoughts are due to Satan’s influence during prayer? Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
In what way does Satan influence us to begin with? For the Christian, Satan doesn’t physically indwell us and cause us to sin. We can never legitimately claim “the devil made me do it”. There is simply no example of this ever happening in scripture to a believer. When Jesus was accused of having a demon, his defense was that he honors his Father, making the argument – if you honor the Father, you cannot have a demon (John 8:48-49). But the devil still has the ability to influence us. While he doesn’t audibly whisper into our ears, he does communicate with our minds spiritually. For instance, Ananias was a part of the early church, yet the devil “filled his heart to lie” (Acts. 5:3). Paul warns us that Satan will often tempt us to sin when the circumstance permits (1 Cor. 7:5). He is always looking for our weaknesses and trying to send specific temptations to our mind that would be the most difficult to overcome. Later, Paul describes Satan as trying to “outwit” us (2 Cor. 2:11).
So can Satan tempt us and try to insert wrong thoughts during prayer? I don’t see a biblical reason to say he cannot. The Bible teaches us to resist Satan’s assaults. Specifically, we are to draw closer to God as a means of making ourselves safer from his efforts (James 4:7-8). Ephesians describe the “Armor of God” as a way to protect ourselves from him (Eph. 6:10-20). One often-overlooked aspect of this armor is prayer. Paul tells us to “pray at all times in the Spirit” to guard against the devil (Eph. 6:18). Prayer won’t prevent him from attacking us, but it will prevent him from having victory over us when it is coupled with the other elements of the armor such as salvation, righteousness, faith, etc. Continue praying and continue battling Satan’s efforts. Don’t be discouraged because the Bible promises that Christ will win this battle for us in the end.