Frank E. Peretti is an evangelical Christian novelist whose works— especially his best-selling This Present Darkness (1986) and Piercing the Darkness (1989)—feature “spiritual warfare” between Christian angels and fallen angels. The action in these novels moves back and forth between two interacting levels: While angels and devils cross swords in the spiritual realm, Peretti’s human heroes and heroines do battle with New Agers, witches, psychologists, secular educationists, and other groups viewed by conservative Christians as being under demonic influence.

One of the keys necessary for understanding Peretti is the belief that the concentrated prayers of Christians provide power and protection for warrior angels. This “prayer energy” empowers God’s angels to win their battles against supernatural demons. A decisive defeat of Satan’s legions in the spiritual realm disempowers Satan’s earthly minions, which in turn leads to their defeat.

The climax of the confrontation in This Present Darkness provides us with a good example of how this “prayer power” is supposed to work. In the final scene of the battle, Tal, leader of the angelic host, crosses swords with Rafar, leader of the demonic forces. At the same time, the Remnant of God’s human “prayer warriors” engaged in the earthly struggle are distracted by the dramatic damage inflicted by their crusade. This distraction interrupts the flow of “power” to Tal, and Rafar almost gets the better of him. At the last possible moment, these Christians feel impressed by the Lord to direct their prayer power against the demon:

[Event in spiritual realm:]
Tal could only back away from the fearsome onslaught of the demon prince, his one good hand still holding his sword up for defense. Rafar kept swinging and slashing, the sparks flying from the blades as they met. Tal’s arm sank lower with each blow. “The Lord . . . rebuke you!” Tal found the breath to say again.

[Appropriate Christian “prayer” response, intuited by an elderly lady:]Edith Duster was on her feet and ready to shout it to the heavens. “Rafar, you wicked prince of evil, in the name of Jesus we rebuke you!”

[Effect of “prayer energy” in spiritual realm:]
Rafar’s blade zinged over Tal’s head. It missed.
[Further “prayer” action in physical realm:]
“We bind you!” shouted the Remnant.
[Effect in spiritual realm:]
The big yellow eyes winced.
[Action in physical realm:]
“We cast you out!” Andy said.
[Effect in spiritual realm:]
There was a puff of sulfur, and Rafar bent over. Tal leaped to his feet.
[Action in physical realm:]
“We rebuke you, Rafar!” Edith shouted again.
[Effect in spiritual realm:]
Rafar screamed. Tal’s blade had torn him open. Although Christians have always believed in the power of prayer, the Darkness novels picture prayer as having a fantastic, magical efficacy against fallen angels.

Peretti is a gifted writer who is able to weave together believable stories of the everyday world with fantastic Dungeons-and-Dragons struggles between otherworldly angels and demons. The results of this skillful juxtaposition are novels with an eerie narrative landscape that evangelical scholar Irving Hexham has described as “sanctified
Stephen King.” Peretti’s art has created an exciting narrative world replete with supernatural phenomena, psychic intuitions, quasi-magical powers, and sword-swinging warriors. A fascination with the occult is evident in Peretti’s descriptions of demons:

He was like a high-strung little gargoyle, his hide a slimy, bottomless black, his body thin and spiderlike: half humanoid, half animal, totally demon. Two huge yellow cat-eyes bulged out of his face, darting to and fro, peering, searching. His breath came in short, sulfurous gasps, visible as glowing yellow vapor.

Even though Christians have traditionally believed in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the picture Peretti draws of highly personal angels conveying guidance to the minds of God’s saints makes Christ-ian inspiration more lively and dramatic. Peretti also pictures angels as capable of materializing to help God’s chosen, as in This Present Darkness when the angel Betsy materializes to give one of the heroines, Bernice Krueger, a short motorcycle ride. Once Bernice has reached her destination, Betsy evaporates like some figure out of an occult novel. As with many of the events that take place in the Darkness novels, such eerie encounters reflect the fascination with the super-
natural and, more specifically, with angels that has come to characterize contemporary conservative Christianity.


  • Hexham, Irving. “The Evangelical Response to the New Age.” In James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton, eds. Perspectives on the New Age. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1992.
  • Peretti, Frank E. This Present Darkness. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1986.
  • Peretti, Frank E. Piercing the Darkness. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1989.


Angels A to Z 2nd Edition – Written by Evelyn Dorothy Oliver & James R. Lewis – Copyright © 2008 by Visible Ink Press