What should you do if you suspect you're under spiritual attack?
In the last two papers, we discussed things that could be mistaken for spiritual attack, and identified the two groups that are most likely to be targeted for spiritual attack. In this paper, we will see what to do if you think you may be the target of spiritual warfare, and how to respond.
PREPARATION: Before undertaking any type of spiritual warfare there are some things you need to do to prepare.
PRAY: This is always the first thing to do. Pray that the Lord will allow you to see the nature of the attack, or if it is even a spiritual attack at all. And, if you see that you are under attack, ask Him to give you guidance and wisdom to know how to respond. Also, ask the Lord for His protection by the covering of the blood of Jesus Christ for you and for your loved ones. Pray that the Lord will give you a receptive heart, eyes that see, and ears that hear during the next step.
READ: Read the Bible. Not only will this keep us focused on the Lord and His ways, but the Lord will speak to us through the scriptures. You will also find examples of others who have perservered through Satan's attacks, such as Job. Just as you would not want to go into physical battle without having eaten something for strength, so also you shouldn't go into spiritual battle without spiritual food (reading the Bible) for strength. When the Lord Jesus was being tempted by Satan, He answered every temptation with scripture. The word of God is called "the sword of the Spirit" in Ephesians chapter 6. It also happens to be the only offensive "weapon" listed in this passage about the "Armor of God."
PRAY AGAIN: After reading God's word, pray again and meditate on what you've read. Does it apply to your situation? Ask the Lord to reveal any message or knowledge He might be trying to show you. Often you'll find that He has guided you to passages that do indeed relate to what you're going through. Think about what you've read, and ask the Lord to show you how to use what you've learned, and how to apply it in your current situation.
PRAISE: Various sources will disagree on the usefulness of praise to combat spiritual attack. Some say it's an essential part, with others saying that it has no value during spiritual warfare. I personally believe praise plays a big part in our response to the attacks of Satan and his workers.
For instance, in 2Chronicles chapter 20, we see the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the people of Mount Seir coming against Judah to destroy them. Jehoshaphat knew that his people could not defeat the combined armies of his enemies, so he went to the Lord for aid. Through Jahaziel, the Lord said, "Be not afraid or dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's." So when the morning of the battle came, what did the children of Judah do? They went to the field of battle and began to sing and praise the Lord.
"And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. 2Chronicles 20:22-23
The people of Judah never lifted a weapon! As they were praising the LORD, He turned their enemies against each other, and finally against themselves!
Another example is found in Acts chapter 16. Paul and Silas have been beaten and thrown into prison because they cast out a spirit of divination from a young girl who was following them, thus angering her masters. In the middle of the night, in prison, Paul and Silas "prayed and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed." Acts 16:25-26. And when the keeper of the prison saw what had been done he "came in trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'"
So let's take a look at what has happened in these two instances. While His children were praising Him, the Lord:
In fact there are more verses in the Bible that refer to praising God in some way, than there are that refer to praying! Therefore, I believe that praise is essential to success in spiritual warfare.
Praise takes our focus off our problems and places it where it should be: on the Lord. Praise lifts our spirits and our confidence. Praise reminds us of what God has done for His people, and what He has promised to do for us in the future. And guess what? When you praise the Lord, you're also reminding Satan and his workers of how many times they've been beaten before. Think about it. How would you like it if, when you were about to attack someone, they started singing songs that reminded you of how many times you've lost similar fights? You wouldn't, and neither does the devil! So make a joyful noise! Praise the Lord and His holy name!
PRAY: Am I starting to sound redundant? I hope so! While praise is mentioned more than prayer throughout the Bible, prayer is, without question, the MOST important part of our spiritual warfare. If you think about it in "military" terms, prayer is our "red line" to our Commander in Chief. Through prayer we receive instruction to help us learn and grow. In prayer we receive directions from the Lord on how to proceed in certain matters, such as spiritual warfare, in our lives. Through prayer the Lord also gives us the power to do the things that He wants us to do.
Too many Christians have reduced prayer to nothing more than the spiritual equivalent of the Home Shopping Network. Every time they pray to God, they have their "shopping list" of things they want the Lord to give them, or to do for them. Listen up, people! Christianity is not about what the Lord can do for us! He died for us to provide a means for us to be reunited to Him, and redeemed us from the curse of sin! Isn't that enough? Real Christianity is about what we can do for Him! It's about what we can do for His children! He paid for us with His blood! We belong to Him! Our lives are to be as servants for Him!
Of course, when we pray, we do have the ability and privilege of making our requests known to God. Philippians 4:6 tells us to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." The Lord does wish to bestow blessings upon His children, but this is not the only reason for prayer. Prayer is a two-way line of communication. Just as we have things we want the Lord to do for us, He also has things that He wants us to do for Him, or for His children. Many times He will reveal these things to us during our prayer time.
By trivializing prayer to a "gimme, gimme" list, we are cutting ourselves off from one of the most powerful, and uplifting resources we have at our disposal. Prayer doesn't have to be simply us expressing our wishes and desires to God. He already knows our needs, and while we are told to pray about them, prayer can be so much more than that.
Just as children can approach their parents to talk over their problems, or maybe just talk about their day, so also can we come to the Lord in prayer for the same reasons. Prayer doesn't have to be some solemn head-bowed, eyes-closed ritual. It can be as simple as just speaking with the Lord about something that's on our minds. Eyes closed or open. Head bowed or up. Sitting, standing, walking, running, or whatever. God is our Father, and just like our earthly parents, He wants us to come to Him whenever we have something we want to talk about. And unlike our earthly parents, which can't stay with us every second, God is there ALL the time! Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, He is with us every moment of the day! Even if we don't want to talk at all, but just listen, or just spend some quiet time in His presence sitting at His feet.
Prayer is the most powerful part of our spiritual warfare arsenal, if we will just allow it to be. If you have doubts, tell God. If you are afraid, tell Him! He understands, and will not let us go through our ordeals alone. Too many times, spiritual warfare battles have been made harder than they needed to be, simply because we've forgotten the true meaning and power of prayer. For this same reason, some battles may have even been lost.
BELIEVE: Believe that the Lord is faithful to keep His promises to us. Believe that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. Believe that we have the authority to command Satan's forces in the name of Jesus, with His authority, and by the power of His blood which was shed for us. Believe that it is not by might that the battle is won, but by His Spirit. Spiritual warfare battles have been lost due, in large part, to a lack of faith. Consider Matthew 17:19, "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, 'Why could we not cast him (a demon) out?' And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief:..." These were Jesus' disciples! They knew the power that Jesus had over evil spirits. They had cast out demons before. But because of a let-down in their faith, they lost the battle, and Jesus had to cast the demon out Himself. Faith is the cornerstone of the Christian religion. By faith we accept that Jesus died on the cross for us as the only sacrifice that would suffice to redeem us from our sins. By faith we accept that He is coming back to gather us to Himself. Faith is "the evidence of things not seen." Without faith in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, none of the promises that we read about in the Bible will have any meaning, nothing that we pray for will come about. In short, without faith, our religion is meaningless.
FAST: Occasionally, we will find ourselves in a spiritual warfare situation that we just can't seem to handle. Even Jesus' disciples ran into this. In all fairness to the disciples in the above situation (Matthew 17:14-21), Jesus did say that "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." In other words, this was not your ordinary, "run of the mill" demon. This one was a little more powerful than what these disciples had dealt with before. So Jesus told them that fasting was necessary in this case. Why? Because fasting does several things. It focuses us on the Lord and on the reason we are fasting, i.e. to receive power to do battle, or to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit. It purifies our bodies. It is a way for us to exercise control over the flesh and its desires. Finally, fasting can be done to express the sincerity of our repentance from our sins. Their are many instances in the Old Testament where people fasted for this reason, as well as for the others.
While I personally believe that regular fasting is a good idea for any Christian, especially in these times, you may never come across a situation in spiritual warfare that requires fasting. However, if you do come up against something that seems to be beyond your abilities, remember what Christ said to the disciples.
ACTION: Now that you've prepared, what can you do? In other words, as Christ's followers, what do we have the authority to do?
Well, what did Jesus' apostles and disciples have the authority to do? According to Matthew 10:1, Jesus gave the twelve "power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Mark 3:14-15 and Luke 9:1-2 say the same thing, just in different wording.
Some might say, "Yeah, but they were apostles!" OK, let's see what power Jesus gave His disciples. In Luke 10:1 Jesus "...appointed other seventy also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come." In verse 9, Jesus says, "And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, 'The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.'" So, they could heal the sick, but that's not all. In verse 17, they returned and said, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name." So they could also cast out demons.
The word "disciple" simply means "a learner" or "pupil." In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." So, if we have come to Jesus, to follow Him and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, we are told to learn of Him. In other words, we become disciples of Christ. And as disciples, WE HAVE ALL THE POWER AND AUTHORITY THAT HIS DISCIPLES HAD WHILE HE WAS ON EARTH!
The thought of this is so awesome that we have trouble really grasping it and believing it. This is why many spiritual warfare battles are lost. This is why many sicknesses and illnesses are not healed. It all comes back to believing. Back to faith. If we truly believe in our hearts, with no reservations, we have the ability to resist and defeat the devil and his workers. Jesus said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, 'Remove hence to yonder place;' and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:20
Our problem is faith. We say we have faith, and we believe in Jesus. So why do we not believe what He said? We think that the apostles and the disciples were somehow better, or more spiritual, or somehow more special than we are, and that's simply not so! The apostles included fishermen and a tax collector! The problem that we have is our rational mind. We can say to someone, "Be healed," but down inside, our rational mind is trying to tell us, "Wait a minute! You can't do that!" The thing we have to realize is that God's power is not rational! IT JUST IS!
Take a look at Peter. Here comes Jesus walking across the waves. Peter said, "Lord, tell me come to You." Jesus replied, "Come on over." Peter stepped out on faith, and suddenly, he found himself walking on the water! That's where Peter's rational mind stepped in, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, "You realize, of course, that what you're doing is impossible." With that one tiny instant of doubt, it was all over. Peter began to sink and cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus caught him and said, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" In other words, "Why didn't you believe that I would give you the power to do as I do, if I called you to Me?"
In John 6:44, Jesus says, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." We are Christians because God the Father called us, and drew us to Christ, and we accepted the call. Once we accept the call by believing in Jesus and making Him the Lord of our lives, we then start to learn about Christ. We become disciples, with all the power at our command that His disciples had in the Bible! The Bible says that "God is no respecter of persons:" Acts 10:34 In other words, the promises and the power apply to everyone equally: apostles, disciples, and us, if we will only believe.
One final note: There are times when the Lord allows certain situations to occur for His own reasons. One example of this is in 2Corinthians 12:7-9:
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly therefore will rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Paul was given a "thorn in the flesh." What this might have been we can only guess. What we do know is that Paul prayed three different times for the Lord to remove is from him. The Lord's response? "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." If Paul had never listened to the Lord and simply tried to oppose this without seeking the Lord's will, he would have ended up "beating his head against the wall," so to speak. This is part of the reason prayer is so vitally important in spiritual warfare. Anytime we believe we are under spiritual attack, we must seek the Lord's will in our situation. We must listen for His still, small voice: the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If we try to release someone from something that the Lord has allowed, we will not be effective, and we might end up getting frustrated, possibly even to the point where we begin to question God instead of following Him on faith.
So, with all this in mind, what are we supposed to do? What does
God want us to do?
What is our mission?
Previous paper: The Enemy's Priority Targets
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