Can the Devil Read Our Minds?

Question: “My wife said that she had been told somewhere that we can think a prayer or request  of God in our mind, but if we wish to rebuke Satan we must say it verbally, out loud. What does  Scripture teach? The question actually is, can Satan read our minds?” (G. in Roanoke)

My Answer: This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions that I have heard
through the years. Many people wonder about this. Some even worry over it. What does the
Bible say?

First of all, the Bible doesn’t give a clear answer. There is no where in Scripture where it says
that the Devil can or cannot read our minds. However, with that said, there are some passages
that give us some insight into this matter.

While the Bible does not say that the Devil cannot read our minds, it is plain that God can. As
indicated in the question, this is the reason that we can pray in our minds and God hears us.
Consider a few verses in this regard:

• “For the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.”
(1 Chronicles 28:9)
• “The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath.” (Psalm 94:11)
• “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?’”
(Matthew 9:4)
• “And knowing their thoughts He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against
itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.’”
(Matthew 12:25)

It is significant that the ability to read a person’s thoughts is only attributed to the Lord in the
Bible. There is never a verse indicating that the Devil or demons can read people’s minds.

There are also a few passages that seem to indicate that the Devil does not have this ability. For
example, in the matter of the dream that God gave King Nebuchanezzar (Daniel 2), the
magicians, sorcerers and astrologers could not tell the king what his dream was. If anybody
would have had access to demonic powers that could read minds, it would have been these occult  experts! The spirits that gave these men their power seem clueless about what had happened in  Nebuchadnezzar’s mind. In fact, Daniel plainly states that this “secret” only be revealed through  the power of God (Daniel 2:27-28). For the Christian, there is a further reason to believe that the  Devil cannot read our minds—for “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). This is  part of the wonderful reality of our union with Christ through the new birth. And if we have HIS  mind, I don’t think the Devil can read that!

I will say that I think the Devil often figures out what is going in our minds. He has been a
student of human behavior for millennia. He knows us pretty well. And we give ourselves away
through our words, actions, and demeanor. He can tell a lot without having to read our minds.

I also do think that even if Satan or demons cannot read our minds, they can influence us in our
thinking. Consider the account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:3, the Devil provoking David
to number Israel in 1 Chronicles 21:1-4, and Satan putting the idea into Judas’s heart to betray
Jesus (John 13:2). And examples of these kind of tempting thoughts are not only found in the
Bible. We have all faced temptations from the enemy that come through our minds. We all have
had thoughts that seem to pop into our heads that tend to lead us to disobedience. These come
from demonic forces. I think of these as being like arrows that the Enemy shoots into our hearts.
Demons can read our minds, but they can from the outside shoot these barbed temptations into  our thinking.

As to the necessity of speaking aloud to the Enemy, this seems to be the case, in light of the fact
that we can find no indication that he can read our minds. Thus, the Devil or his demons cannot
read our thoughts. So to deal with demonic attack or activity, it is important to verbally address
the spirits we are dealing with. This is important not only because the demons cannot read our
minds, but also because there is a spiritual dynamic that occurs when we speak aloud
authoritatively and in faith.

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