If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d be focused on the wrong culprit-your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except me… (via “Fervent” pg. 39)
I’ve never paid any attention to Spiritual Warfare.
The idea that the devil is out to get me…that his demons are at work all around me…that I’m being targeted at any given time, for any given reason…is a bit scary to think about and focus on. So, for the most part I’ve just walked through life without any kind of recognition to the idea that there IS an enemy out there and he IS here to “steal, kill and destroy” (src).
I have always liked horror films. Especially during Halloween. I grew up watching Freddy, Jason and Michael Meyers during the season and never thought much of it. Then, as I got older and as my faith has matured, I started to see that, while these movies are meant for entertainment purposes and Hollywood revenue, that kind of evil is REAL. We live in a fallen society. We live in a world that is full of sin and evil and hatred and danger and temptation. And the enemy is REAL.
This week, our study was on praying for our Focus. And boy did I get the opportunity to pray over my sense of Focus during this week. I never thought a whole lot about the term focus…about the concept of focus as far my prayer life was concerned. When I pulled out the dictionary and looked up the word focus I was drawn to the synonyms that were listed:
Now, I hated science when I was in school. I failed Biology my Freshman year of college and quite honestly have zero interest in knowing how or why my body functions the way that it does. The fact that I was made the way God designed me is enough of an answer for me. I do remember enough about cell structure to know that the Nucleus is the center of the cell where all of the other parts of the cell are gathered. It’s the dynamic in which all of the things in our body function. Any one with a child with any kind of developmental or physical delays or hindrances, knows all about the importance of a cell functioning in the way that God intended.
That being said, when we got to the strategy that was geared toward Focus I was under the impression that the chapter would talk more about how our focus should be on Christ and making him the center of our lives. And while that is 110% true, the focus discussed here is equally as important.
Focus keeps you from being preoccupied, from overlooking important facts that would’ve been readily obvious if you’d only been praying better attention. Focus protects your goals and dreams from being consumed in small bites, stollen right out from under your nose in twenty-minute segments of compromise.
That last part about the twenty minute segments of compromise made me immediately think of the 400+ Pastors and deacons expected to lose their position after the Ashley Madison list was made public. Those pastors and deacons and church elders lost their focus…and their reputation…over a few minutes at the time spent in sin. It ate them up, stole their joy, robbed them of their focus on Christ and now they are having to deal with the consequences of their sin.
It is so very easy, when we aren’t careful, to become focused on the wrong thing when we feel we are being sinned against. I experienced this first hand this past week. The enemy knows our weaknesses…he knows our troubles…he knows right where to come in, flames blazing, and impart destruction on our lives. He knows what puts us on guard, he knows that causes us to get upset or angry or fired up or frustrated or what-have-you.
He knows how to push our buttons.
The Apostle Paul tells us plain as day in the book of Ephesians that our enemy isn’t our husband, our family, our church, our friends, our finances, our children, our jobs, our school system, our government, or anyone else. It’s him. It’s always been him. It’s always going to be him until the day that the good Lord defeats him and conquers evil once and for all.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Now, let’s break this verse down. Because the first time that I read it, I honed in on the part where Paul says that we wrestle against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness. I decided to venture over to my absolutely favorite online Bible Study tool and check out this verse word for word. I love this site because I can break it down to what the actual Hebrew translation was and what the word meant in its original context.
The words I honed in on were “flesh, principalities, the rulers, and darkness.” When I started studying those words, I was relatively surprised at how blunt that the original texts were. When Paul refers to our flesh, he’s referring to our innate nature to sin. Our selfish, animalistic tendencies to focus on whatever our heart (or mind or body) desires at the time.
Principalities means origin, beginning, the first place, and/or of angels and demons. I found it interesting that this word also meant “origin and beginning.” When you read the bits and pieces of the story of Lucifer, the great angel who would fall and eventually become evil himself, you see that he was around from the very beginning. Even before Adam & Eve, Lucifer’s sin was the introduction of evil (Ezekiel 28:1-19).
“The Rulers” refers to the lord of the world, the prince of the age…meaning, the devil and all of his demons. Similarly the “darkness” from the Greek Leixon means “of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell.”
Pretty straight forward and intense isn’t it?
Our real enemy isn’t the friend who hurt our feelings, the family member who disagrees with us, the church who doesn’t live by its standards, the husband or wife who doesn’t demonstrate love and respect or our child who fails to obey. The enemy isn’t even our own human nature, because our human nature was initially to love and serve the Almighty God. And then the devil came into play and skewed what that nature was.
Our enemy is the devil himself and he is counting on our inability to fight him off. Why? Because we spend more time trying to fight the physical somethings we can see than focusing on the actual enemy at work. The enemy isn’t the husband or wife who has the affair and commits adultery. The enemy here is the devil himself who has taken ahold of that spouse and watched another marriage fall apart. The enemy isn’t the friend or family member who spews hateful or hurtful comments. The enemy is the devil himself using words that he knows will hurt you through the people you care about.
Why? Because we let him.
You simply cannot keep letting him go unchecked while you throw money and anger and logic and psychology at your problems in a vain attempt at overcoming or outsmarting them. In order to live in victory, you must call the enemy’s bluff, pull the curtain back, open your spiritual eyes, and remain CONTINUALLY aware of the one who’s truly behind a lot of the stuff you’re alway blaming on your circumstances, your upbringing, your boyfriend, or whoever. Even on yourself (pg. 43).
We have a real enemy friends. A real, terrifying, scheming, lying, prince of darkness enemy. One who is out to attack you, attack your family, attack your marriage and your husband and your children and your family and anyone else he can trick into believing his schemes.
We can only battle him effectively with the Power of Prayer and aligning our struggles and issues with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Challenge for this week: Build an effective prayer strategy against the enemy using the verses found at the end of Strategy Two. Ask the Lord himself to offer you discernment as you go through the day to see who the real enemy is and recognize when he’s in the midst of attacking you.
My family and I saw War Room yesterday and I have to say that I give 7 out of 5 stars. This movie was phenomenal! I laughed, I cried, I felt all of the feels in the two hours that we sat in the theater. I was really worried about taking both kiddos along. Noah, not so much because he likes to sit in the theater and we really wanted him to see a movie where the focus was on prayer. He’s leaning to really say his prayers but often asks what the importance of praying is. Josh and I were both worried that Jonah would be the one not to cooperate. I actually go up Saturday morning before Noah’s football game and specifically prayed that the Lord would allow Jonah to cooperate through the film so that we could sit and watch it as a family. Ironically, he slept the entire movie. We left our house, drove to the theater, he fell asleep in the car and woke up only in the last 10 minutes of the movie. As simple as it seems and as crazy as it sounds, I know without a shadow of a doubt that that was the answer to my prayer.
Don’t be afraid to ask God for the things that seem silly and miniscule. He already knows them, so don’t try to hide them from him.
Don’t forget that I want to pray for YOU. And that we have our own little “war room” here on this blog where all of the requests are posted so that all of you can pray if you feel led. I actually have nothing up right now as no one has sent me a request, so don’t hesitate if you are in need of prayer! I lift all of you up daily! I’d love to know more about what you think of the book and how it’s changing your prayer life!