Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

If the devil cannot read our minds, why wouldn't we want to pray silently and not verbally? When he hears what we're praying, would our answer be thwarted or diverted?

Thank you,

Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

Can the Devil read minds? “Of course he can!” I say, and so say others as well!

Can the Devil read minds? “Of course not!” say some (like Neil Anderson of “Bondage Breaker” fame).

Can the Devil read minds? “Maybe,” some respond.

Can the Devil read minds? “I don’t have the slightest idea!” say most Christians.

As you can see, disagreement abounds concerning whether or not Satan can read minds. As a result, I don’t want to come down too hard on opinions other than mine — nor push my position too firmly.

However, while the Bible seems not absolutely clear on this issue (otherwise, most would come to agreement), I think that the Bible gives enough examples to posit that Satan can read minds.

In my opinion every satanic attack and temptation concerns who will be in charge of our minds: we ourselves or Satan. Notice that God will never take control of a Christian’s mind. He wants us mentally free to make our own choices. Following Christ yields abundant life. Succumbing to Satan produces bondage and misery. By the way, according to the Bible, since Satan is neither omniscient nor omnipresent, most of his work is carried out by demonic forces under his personal direction (Ephesians 6:1-12).

Now, let’s consider several relevant passages.

Paul advised Timothy what to do with ornery church members in 2 Timothy 2:25-26. Note that some of these Christians were taken captive by Satan.

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Satan certainly has not rounded up these trouble making Christians like cattle and put them in a corral. He has entrapped their mind.

Psychologically, the interaction among our minds, wills and emotions makes up our “selves,” or our personhoods, or the essence of who we are. We think with our minds; we choose with our wills; we feel with our emotions. Personhood, or self, is defined by having a mind, will and emotions. These three make up, to a large degree, just who we are.

Study the satanic attack in Genesis 3 against Adam and Eve. Eve succumbed in all three areas. Adam failed in only two. Eve was deceived. Adam knew exactly what he was doing.

The only way for Satan to “take our minds captive” is to “capture” our minds, wills and/or emotions — in other words, our thoughts.

Certainly, our old nature tempts us to sin. Just as certainly, Satan inserts tempting thoughts in order to induce us to sin.