Healing Line

Healing Line

Everyday Warfare

by Linda Strickland
Apr/May/Jun 2012

Spiritual attack is the enemy’s ongoing attempt to strike out at Jesus through us, His followers. Until Christ returns with His angels to rid the universe of the evil one and his demons, Scripture tells us that the Body of Christ will continue to be persecuted (2 Thessalonians 1:5–10). In my experience, I have found that the most common attack is targeted at our daily personal life, the place where we face issues related to our own spiritual survival.

Lately I have received an unusually large number of calls from people telling me their stories of spiritual attack and warfare. Also, as we travel we are often asked to meet with pastors and leaders who are at their wit’s end, ready to quit ministry altogether because the attack is too much. The heartbreak is that their feelings are completely valid and very real. Sometimes the attack is on a large scale, but for the most part, as I said, it is about the everyday annoyances and problems that build up to the point of feeling overwhelmed.

Recently we traveled to a conference that should have taken two hours of travel, but instead took us twelve hours before we reached our destination. It’s tempting to blame even this kind of situation on the evil one, and perhaps it is. We know that Satan loves to impede kingdom work and frustrate God’s workers; however, sometimes these kinds of delays are just simply due to bad weather and bad timing. Having said that, though, we should be aware that our enemy is always happy to use even the most innocent of situations against us and cause us to lose our focus and our tempers. When we have just a hint of a problem, he loves to maximize the mess and increase its effect into a real humdinger. Satan does not play fair!

Tom White, in his book The Believer’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare, states “When it comes to spiritual warfare, most Christians aren’t concerned about the cosmic, but the hassles of daily life. We are concerned with issues related to our own spiritual survival, protection for our children, and finding God’s power to deal with the needs and bondages we face every day. How do I receive the protection from the evil one promised by Jesus? How do I deal with the neighborhood friend who is dabbling with trance channeling? How do I pray for a child hooked on drugs? Do my prayers move God’s hand in spiritual warfare? This is the sphere in which spiritual warfare is most relevant.”

The issue of attack from our enemy is not new. Peter boasted that he would never deny Christ (Matthew 26:31–35), and in his pride, he had overestimated his own strength and underestimated Satan’s prowess. Thirty years later he wrote from his own deep personal experience of failure and defeat at the hands of his enemy, and called for humility and total dependence on God:

  So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; He’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you. Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ — eternal and glorious plans they are! — will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, He does (I Peter 5:6–10 The Message).  

Even Jesus was attacked by Satan, and while He boldly took on the hypocrisy and evil in the religious and political establishments of His day, it is important to note that He never went out of His way to pick a fight with the devil. During His ministry here on earth He confronted and cast out evil spirits on a daily basis, but He only responded when necessary to Satan’s direct assaults. On one occasion the evil one attacked Jesus by confronting Him on the point of His identity when he said, “If you truly are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Having His identity questioned must have been a difficult attack for Jesus, but His response was a perfect model for us, as He used the truth of Scripture to silence His adversary (Matthew 4:3).

Combat the Enemy with Truth

For me personally, having my identity questioned by the evil one is a place of weakness for me, a floorboard where he knows he can throw me into a tizzy of thinking I am not smart enough, good enough or even capable of doing what I have been called to do. He knows that when I am feeling worthless he is more likely to ensnare me. I become paralyzed and shut down emotionally and sometimes even physically. At times like this, the only way I can fight against the attack is to “Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around my waist” (Ephesians 6:14a). Truth always breaks through the lies of the enemy and is one of the most effective tools we have been given to fight against the daily warfare in our lives.

A perfect example of this happened to me last year while Judith and I were speaking at a large conference. Judith spoke first, and the person who introduced her did an amazing job of listing her accomplishments and degrees. When it came time for me to speak, the same person approached me asking for my credentials so she could introduce me properly. Having never gone to college or earned any degrees, I was taken off guard, and felt immediate panic and embarrassment. I told her that my credentials consisted of living life. She politely smiled at me, and then proceeded to introduce me.

As I walked up the stairs to the platform I was completely aware that the evil one was using this weakness in me to try and throw me off balance, but I took the bait anyway. Feelings of inadequacy overwhelmed me, and the closer I got to the podium the fear forming inside of me became intense. What will these people think of me? I am probably the only person in the room who does not have any letters behind my name, so how will they accept me and what I have to say? Am I even worthy to do this? I knew they were lies, but I found myself believing every one of them, so Satan took advantage of the situation and tried his best to stop me from speaking that day.

When I arrived at the podium I was paralyzed and could not speak. All I could do was offer up a weak, “Help me Lord.” The moment I said this prayer I was instantly filled with an understanding of what I was to do: tell them the truth. So that’s exactly what I did. I stood up and told the audience the story of what had just happened. I told them about being asked for my credentials and how I did not have the education that the world would recognize, but what I did have was a lifetime of experience. I went on to say that I felt that I had something worth saying and would love to share with them if they would allow me. As soon as I told the truth all fear left me, and to my absolute amazement the entire audience of 800+ people encouraged me by standing to their feet and giving me a beautiful standing ovation. I have never before or since experienced the power of what the light switch of truth can do. The Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14) is a powerful piece of armor!

Praying Prayers of Protection

What I have come to realize is that everyday warfare is part of being a Christian, and being proactive and praying prayers of protection is not something we only do on occasion for the big stuff; it is something we must do constantly. That 911–Help prayer that I prayed when I was so fearful broke through the enemy’s attack on me and immediately thwarted it.

Whether what you are going through is just the messiness of life or whether it is legitimate warfare, I encourage you to follow the advice of a man in whom I trust and deeply admire: Francis MacNutt. He advises that when you are not sure about what you are dealing with that you pray on condition. In other words, you pray anyway. There have been many times that I have prayed, “Lord, I’m not sure if this is what I am dealing with or not, but just in case. . .”

An example of praying for protection for yourself or your family can be as simple as, “Lord Jesus, please send your holy angels to minister to me and my family — guard and protect us from all sickness, harm and accidents.” (taken in part from the Prayer of Protection, written by Francis MacNutt)

When you feel the attack is more intense you can pray, “In the name of Jesus Christ, and by the power of His cross and blood, I bind up the powers of earth, air, water, fire, the netherworld and the satanic forces of nature. I break any curses, hexes or spells sent against us and declare them null and void. I break any assignments of any spirits sent against us and send them to Jesus to deal with them as He will. Thank You Lord for Your protection, please send Your angels to help us in the battle.” (taken in part from the Prayer of Protection, written by Francis MacNutt)

Put on the Armor of Protection

In Ephesians 6:10 we are given the specific command, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” In his book The Invisible War, Chip Ingram answers the question of how we obey this command. He says, “How do you allow yourself to be strong in the Lord? By continually and repeatedly putting on the spiritual protection God has provided for you at specific points in time, for the express purpose of holding on to your position in Christ as you are bombarded by satanic strategies designed to destroy you or render you ineffective in kingdom pursuits.”

Ephesians 6:11–18 gives us a list of the armor of God that has been provided for our protection, and just as a soldier would never think of going into battle without his armor, as Christians, neither should we. Chip Ingram also notes that as we engage in the battle it is important to not be fearful and to remember that, “As believers in Christ, we do not fight for victory, we fight from victory!” The battle is already won!

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

The Gift of Christian Community

In addition to praying daily for protection and putting on the armor of God, I also believe that it is important to stay connected to fellow believers. The gift of Christian community is vital in surviving the attacks that come our way. In addition to praying for one another, Christian friends are crucial in discerning and holding us accountable for the ways that we could be leaving a door open to the enemy (James 5:16). Just as my husband goes around our home every night and locks all of our doors to keep intruders out, we must guard our hearts and our minds against intruders from the evil realm (Proverbs 4:23).

If you feel that the attack in your life is constant, especially in a specific area, it is important that you take the steps necessary to make sure you have all of your bases covered. It is sometimes helpful to ask yourself the question, “Am I walking in obedience to the Lord in all areas of my life?” In other words, “Have I left any doors open for the enemy to walk through which allows him access into my life?”

Earlier I confessed an area of weakness for me, which has been my identity. After returning home from that conference I had my husband pray with me and together we closed that door. I now have a sign over that area of my life with a message to my enemy that reads “Access Denied!”

Jesus Loves You So Much

Whether you are engaged in big warfare, or the everyday warfare all Christians face, you should know that Jesus cares about what you are going through, and has prayed protection for you. Before He left this earth to go and live with His Father He prayed for His disciples and for all of us with these beautiful words:

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name — the name You gave Me — so that they may be one as We are One.” (John 17:11–12)

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Apr/May/Jun 2012