Yesterday was a typical Sunday. I was up early to take advantage of the quiet before everyone woke up and had around an hour with the Lord.
As the morning progressed, a sense of anxiety began to creep over me, though I had nothing to be anxious about. After lunch I tried to take a nap but encountered lust thoughts swirling around my mind. I couldn’t sleep, knew it was warfare, and prayed Psalm 91 aloud. That stopped the lust thoughts, but not the battle.
I got hit with thoughts of resentment next, and shut them down. Minutes later, “I hate myself” was planted in my mind. In the past I struggled with self-condemnation, and knew the enemy was trying to get me to bite on it.
I didn’t take the bait.
Then the anxiety intensified, and I felt like I was losing my mind, going crazy.
It was around 4:00PM by this time.
I was reminded there are times when we need to call out the specific areas we’re being attacked in. I prayed the cross and work of Christ between me and all evil spirits and people, then commanded anything to do with anxiety, lust, resentment, bitterness, self-condemnation, and insanity to leave my presence.
The relief was immediate. My mind cleared, the anxiety vanished, and I was fine for the rest of the waking hours of the night.
Then around midnight, I had one of the sickest, darkest dreams I’ve ever had. Those middle of the night attacks can be tough to cope with when you’re weaving in and out consciousness. I woke up out of it, commanded what was attacking me to stop and leave my presence in the authority of Christ, and was able to go back to sleep without further problems.
I woke up this morning with the anxiety hitting me full force again, and felt physically weak. I asked God what to do about it, and He immediately replied “My word.” I read several passages from Matthew and the Psalms out loud, then read the prayer for strength from Colossians 1:9-14:
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Emphasis mine).
The weakness faded, and I went about getting ready.
Then, as we were driving to the office, we narrowly missed getting into an accident.
I’ve had warfare most Sundays since last summer, with the attacks coming from different angles, regardless of whether I went to church. It comes with the territory with a ministry like this. I don’t have the answer as to why I get hit on Sundays other than I know the enemy doesn’t want us to rest, but it doesn’t matter.
I share this with you because I know some of you are getting hit. Maybe you’re feeling alone, or crazy. One strategy of the enemy is to make believers feel like they’re on their own and God isn’t there. Buy into the lie that you’re alone, and despair and discouragement are next; the battle gets tougher then. This is another reason why every believer must be a part of a tribe. You’re never alone, you’re not crazy, and God is far bigger than the enemy.
You can study the armor of God in Ephesians 6 all you want, but it’s not until you’re thrown into a firefight, take some hits, and are forced to stand up and learn how to fight God’s way that you’ll learn how to overcome. Asking for prayer is important, and I do so, especially if I’m getting overwhelmed, but every believer will be thrown into situations where they’re on their own and must stand up and take down their Goliath, just as David did.
Remember how God prepared David for his battle against Goliath; it wasn’t with a Bible study…
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”
1 Samuel 17:34-35
…David got thrown into life or death battles with formidable adversaries at a young age. David would have faced fear and doubt, and he needed wisdom for how to effectively attack the lion and bear. Swinging at their legs wasn’t going to work. David had big faith that an all-powerful God would show him the way to victory.
Spiritual warfare can be like a tough workout. With every battle and victory your faith muscles will grow, you’ll believe God is faithful (as opposed to only parroting the truth), and your intimacy with Him will deepen. Intense spiritual firefights create prayer warriors.
Unless, that is, you’re attending the Church of Nice, which avoids talking about spiritual warfare, you’re always head down in your phone or the TV, and the enemy rarely touches you because he wants to keep you comfortable. Then you have a much bigger problem.
There is much to learn (and I’m still learning, too). Not every battle is fought the same way. Some battles will be ongoing, others are over quickly. Learn to ask the Lord for His guidance for the way through. This goes back to faith, discernment, and having more than an Awana-level understanding of the Christian life. If you don’t believe God speaks to His people, you’ll have a tough time hearing His voice. Ongoing sin, disobedience, and pride will keep you pinned down in a foxhole of misery. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding out if there’s an access point that needs to be closed or a stronghold that needs to be broken. Ongoing prayer is always critical.
Watch the thoughts that flow through your mind. Don’t allow lies or what would be sinful to immerse yourself in to park and take residence in your mind. Sometimes we keep fighting the same battles because we’re cooperating with the enemy, aren’t wiling to give up a certain sin, or haven’t stood up to fight and are looking for someone or something else to do the hard work for us.
Going through spiritual warfare has benefits. It can be a sign that you’re making an impact, or will make an impact in the future. Being a prayer warrior is more than enough to rouse the enemy’s attention (why do you think so few churches have prayer meetings?) Warfare involves a purifying process; you can’t overcome if you’re holding onto sin. It burns off pride, increases faith, and shapes our character in positive ways. Anything that fires up your prayer life is a blessing; your prayer life is the barometer of your spiritual power.
So how are you doing? Take down any Goliaths lately?
The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.