Demons and Exorcisms

Christians from Protestant denominations rarely, if ever, hear about demons or the spiritual world in their churches. So when a Catholic expert in demonology provided somewhat of a crash course at a Q conference on how demons behave and how exorcisms work, it was all people could talk about.

Gabe Lyons, founder of Q, recently revealed that the discussion in April on the spiritual world ended up being one of their “top talks” that people were most challenged by and raving about. And Adam Blai, peritus of religious demonology and exorcism for the diocese of Pittsburgh who trains priests in exorcism, wasn’t surprised.

“There’s an inherent interest in these matters,” he told Lyons during a follow-up Q&A last month. “I’m not sure why that is except that perhaps it’s one of the places where the spiritual world really becomes physical. I think on a basic human level, that is inherently interesting to us. It’s the reason they make movies about it.”

Moreover, exorcisms and dealing with demons constitute about a third of Jesus’ miracles in the gospels, Blai noted. “You’re not only talking about something very real and physical, but you’re also talking about something really central to the Gospel.”

Lyons decided to open the talk on demons after seeing more and more headlines highlighting the rise in exorcisms around the world. It’s something the Catholic Church addresses but Protestants in the U.S. are less likely to hear anything about it from pastors.

“How can we be Christians and not try to better understand what’s happening in the spiritual realm?” Lyons asked at the Q event in April, after finding out that 80 percent of attendees rarely or never heard a talk on the demonic realm. “Isn’t that like a pretty big deal to what we believe is actually going on in the world?

“The reality is there’s an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy you, destroy me, destroy your churches, tempt you. He’ll disguise himself in every possible way. Do we really take enough time to talk about that?”

Blai offered some nuggets to Q attendees who may be hearing about demons for the first time.

1. The spiritual world is very legalistic.

“Demons are bound by the rules of God. They have to operate within those rules. Their normal activity is temptation. They’re allowed to do that to us our entire lives. God has them all on a leash and He lets the leash go enough to let them tempt us because that’s what makes us spiritually stronger.”

2. Demon possession only happens if we invite the demon in

There are nine ranks of demons, according to Blai. The more serious ones are more difficult to deal with. The exorcist revealed that he and his team run into the “main” ones that are named in the Bible (or “upper management” as Blai likes to describe them) quite often.

It’s to the point that the demons become recognizable — “Oh, it’s you again.”

Infestation, oppression and possession are considered “extraordinary” activity, Blai described. Demons are not allowed to do any of those things “unless we invite him into our lives to do those things,” he said.

“Somebody with valid authority has to tell the demon ‘I invited you to do it.” That could include a parent who invites a demon into their child.

“Once he’s in your life in that extraordinary way, you have to renounce and reject whatever the invitation was to push him out. You have authority of your own body … same to your child or house.”

If it’s a stranger, however, you don’t necessarily have authority over that situation, Blai noted. For Catholics, that’s when a priest who has been trained should be called.

And demons know who has spiritual authority. If someone without authority tries to exorcise the demon, the demon won’t listen, Blai said, speaking from experience. But if the priest who has been given authority approaches the demon, the demon will listen.

Blai said Protestants have come to the Catholic Church for help in serious cases of demon possession. He offered attendees this advice if they want to help in such cases: rather than trying to quote Scripture to chase away the demon (which Blai said will only make the demon angry but not resolve the situation), “ask Jesus to free the person.”

“Ultimately, Jesus is doing it anyway. All authority comes from Him,” he explained. Rather than trying to resolve it yourself and essentially consenting to a personal struggle with that demon, leave it between the demon and Jesus.

So why has there been a rise in exorcisms in recent years?

Blai, who studied adult clinical psychology, believes it is due to the country and other countries becoming “less Christian and less religious.”

“In the history of the Church, 2,000 years, you see a flurry of exorcisms when Christianity first entered cultures,” he said. “We’re seeing that flurry come back because the wave (of Christianity) is rolling back and we’re choosing to abandon that understanding.”

As Blai stated at the event, he echoed last month the need to be careful when it comes to identifying a spiritual attack versus a mental illness.

It can start to move toward a place of paranoia where there’s almost a “demon under every rock” if you take it too far, he warned.

When he gets a call about a possible case of a spiritual attack, he and other exorcists (which have increased in number from about a dozen when he started to over 100 today in the country) take weeks or even months to evaluate.

“The church is very careful to make sure that it’s not a mundane problem,” he said.

The person who is showing worrisome symptoms is required to first get medically and psychologically evaluated by licensed professionals outside the church.

“We don’t want to eschew a regular medical and psychological perspective,” he stressed.

For it to be considered a spiritual attack or demon possession, the symptoms have to be nonexplainable by a treatable mundane thing like epilepsy, Blai explained. Then the symptoms must also align with “extraordinary signs” that have been recorded for thousands of years. These signs include knowing all languages, knowing hidden things about someone else’s life (very specific things), and supernatural strength, among other things.

For those struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, Blai is cautious not to jump to the hypothesis that a demon is at work. But he noted that for some, it may be “attractive to say ‘this isn’t my problem, it’s something external to me causing me to be depressed so we need to pray about that and that needs to be cast away’ as opposed to me doing any work.”

Still, spiritual attacks are real and with the country becoming less religious, more people are dabbling with the occult. And magic — though painted as exciting and harmless for kids in movies and books — is dangerous.

“Nobody’s ever told them it’s a problem,” Blai pointed out.

“We fill the void with something. Our children have an innate need for spiritual experiences. It’s built into us as humans. When we don’t have it from our institutionalized religion, we’re going to seek it out in the occult, … ghost hunting, … gnosticism, … Eastern traditions that we don’t understand.

“The kids are going to find it somehow … What they’re going to find is the devil because he’s waiting there to feed them whatever line he wants to feed them.”

— The Christian Post



Cleansing Prayer to Exorcise Demons



In the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I command that any demons associated with this place be present during this cleansing in all their parts. I Insist that each demon must listen to what I have to say. Each demon must listen to every word and must not be shielded from any of it. No demon may leave until it is commanded to leave at the conclusion of this cleansing. It can go only into the abyss or wherever the Lord Jesus allows. No demon can return to this place or this person ever.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is my Savior. God’s holy Word says: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Psalm 91).

I stand against every enemy in the infinite strength of almighty God, just as David stood against Goliath. I say with him, “Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” So, demons, I say with the confidence of David: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1Samuel 17:47).

“Being found in appearance as a man, Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11).

“No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power” (Jeremiah 10:6).

“I have made the Most High my dwelling–even the LORD, who is my refuge–therefore no harm will befall me, no disaster will come near my tent. For he will command his angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways; they will lift me up in their hands, so that I will not strike my foot against a stone. I will tread upon the lion and the cobra; I will trample the great lion and the serpent. ‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her’” (Psalm 91).

“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josuha 24:15)

“Jesus was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (1 Peter 3:18-22).

Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house” (Matthew 12:28-29). We bind Satan and his demons in the name of Jesus. We declare Satan and his demons robbed of any right or any power to be present in this place or with these people.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39).

“Jesus has disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).

I stand in the power and authority of Almighty God, through Jesus I am his child. Covered by the blood he shed for me on Calvary, I renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways. I renounce any connection any of my ancestors have had with any form of satanism and/or sin. I claim your promise, merciful and mighty Lord God, that through faith in Jesus I am your dear child and I ask you to break any hold that Satan may have in my life because of the deeds and beliefs of myself or my forefathers. I confess and renounce all bitterness and anger, lust, [unforgiveness] and________. I declare that I belong in all my being to the Triune God: the Father who created and preserves me, the Son who became a human being in order to sacrifice himself for the forgiveness of all my sins, the Spirit who has created faith in my heart and keeps it there and who lives there indwelling my body as his holy temple. I take my position through Jesus in God’s sight as his dearly loved child, as a victorious conqueror. I am dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. In the power and authority of Jesus, I command that every spiritual chain that binds me be broken and that I no longer be harassed by any demon. Holy Father, I thank you for deliverance in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. This cleansing is complete. Each and every demon must now depart to whatever place Jesus commands, never to return here.