Dismiss the Presence of Adversarial Influence
If your experience with this principle is anything like mine, you may be shocked to realize how much the Adversary is bearing down upon us, almost constantly, and bombarding us with his influence.
Completely veiled from my mind and understanding was the profound influence adversarial spirits were having on me. Before each prayer I’ve learned to actively dismiss influences and spirits that are not sent from the Savior. This has had a profound change on my prayers.
As messengers and ministers are sent to bless us from our Father in Heaven, so are adversarial messengers, teachers, tormenters, tempters, and influencers from the Adversary. These influences constantly try to speak to us, influence our thoughts, take control over us, and tempt us to violate the light of Christ within us. Their aim is to confuse, control, and separate us from the influence of the Savior by every possible deception.
Samuel the Lamanite describes this state of being influenced by dark influences when he wrote:
Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days.[i]
Some of these influences have dwelt with us for so much of our life that we cannot distinguish between the voice of the influence and our own voice. The deception born of long association with these spirits can bring us to believe deeply imbedded lies about ourselves.
In order to untie these lies and deceptions we must first learn how to completely dismiss these influences. We must become free from these before we can receive a fullness of communication and transformation from the Lord.
Heber C. Kimball described these influences in this way:
“It is written, “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Some people do not believe that there are any devils. There are thousands of evil spirits that are just as ugly as evil can make them. The wicked die, and their spirits remain not far from where their tabernacles are. When I was in England, twenty-eight years ago next June, I saw more devils than there are persons here to-day; they came upon me with an intention to destroy me; they are the spirits of wicked men who, while in the flesh, were opposed to God and his purposes. I saw them with what we call the spiritual eyes, but what is in reality the natural eye. The atmosphere of many parts of these mountains is doubtless the abode of the spirits of Gadianton robbers, whose spirits are as wicked as hell, and who would kill Jesus Christ and every Apostle and righteous person that ever lived if they had the power. It is by the influence of such wicked spirits that men and women are all the time tempted to tell little lies, to steal a little, to take advantage of their neighbor a little, and they tell us there is no harm in it. It is by the influence and power of evil spirits that the minds of men are prejudiced against each other, until they are led to do each other an injury, and sometimes to kill each other.[ii]”
When Adam and Eve were introduced into the fallen world they faithfully performed sacrifices in anticipation of being visited by true messengers. As they performed sacrifices in obedience they were under the influence of the adversary who sought to teach them a false religion, to accumulate the best gifts of the Telestial kingdom, and, most of all, he taught them to fear.
When Adam and Eve finally received the true messengers the first thing they did was dismiss the Adversary and his influence. This is a pattern that must be followed when seeking to receive heavenly gifts.
Joseph Smith taught, “nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.[iii]”
It is critical to ask the Lord to dismiss and relieve you of adversarial influence so the communication is pure and unrestrained. I have found that if I ask and plead for the Lord to displace all darkness with light and to have all influences removed from my presence often I feel a noticeable peace and change of environment. I will not proceed until I recognize the peace that comes from this influence being removed.
George Q. Cannon shared this remarkable insight:
“If our eyes were open to see the spirit world around us, we should feel differently on this subject than we do; we would not be so unguarded and careless, and so indifferent whether we had the spirit and power of God with us or not; but we would be continually watchful and prayerful to our heavenly Father for His Holy Spirit and His holy angels to be around about us to strengthen us to overcome every evil influence… if we could see with our spiritual senses as we now see with our natural senses, we should be greatly shocked at the sight of the influences that prompt us to disobey the counsels of God or the Spirit of the Lord in our hearts. . . . He who is imbued with the Spirit of God is sensibly aware when the evil power approaches; but he does not welcome it to his bosom; he resists it with all the might and strength God has given unto him, and he obtains power over it, and it no more troubles him; if it does, its influence is more weakened than previously.[iv]”
Nephi lamented that he felt “encompassed about, because of the sins and temptations that so easily beset me.[v]” This personal spiritual struggle Nephi experienced confirms what is taught in the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants when Joseph Smith revealed:
And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision; for we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ— Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about.
We do not need to be constantly encompassed about. We, as Elder Cannon taught, can greatly reduce their influence if not completely dismiss them. We can pray that the power of heaven, light, love, and peace may displace the evil influence that encompasses us about. Brigham Young described our ability to dismiss these influences when he taught:
The spirits of the ancient Gadiantons are around us. You may see battle-field after battle-field, scattered over this American continent, where the wicked have slain the wicked. Their spirits are watching us continually for an opportunity to influence us to do evil, or to make us decline in the performance of our duties. And I will defy any man on earth to be more gentlemanly and bland in his manners than the master spirit of all evil. We call him the devil; a gentleman so smooth and so oily, that he can almost deceive the very elect. We have been baptized by men having the authority of the holy Priesthood of the Son of God, and consequently we have power over him which the rest of the world do not possess, and all who possess the power of the Priesthood have the power and right to rebuke those evil powers, and they obey not, it is because we do not live so as to have the power with God, which it is our privilege to have. If we do not live for this privilege and right we are under condemnation.[vi]
Dismissing the influence of the Adversary, and waiting until the peace and light that only comes from heavenly influence is crucial before moving forward in this sacred process of prayer.
[i] Helaman 13:37
[ii] Journal of Discourses, 11:84-85
[iii] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 205.
[iv] George Q. Cannon, in Journal of Discourses, 11:29–30.
[v] 2 Nephi 4:18
[vi] Journal of Discourses, 12:128