Anything of value in our lives must be fought for in prayer.
God has been speaking to my heart about prayer so much lately. Not the kind of prayer where we whisper it half-heartedly when we are drifting off to sleep, or the ones we pray while hurriedly getting ready for the day. Those kinds of prayers are easy – more like afterthoughts really. I am talking about the fighting kind. The kind where you have glimpsed a piece of the fight. Suddenly, for a moment, you see that this life of yours is not ever going to blissfully move along unopposed. You see, that the opposition you face in your relationships and in all the important places in your life is not what you thought it was -there is an enemy behind it, and you just have to pray because you’re – well, MAD.
You’re mad that the enemy has been plundering life while you have been fighting surface things. You’re mad that the things you’ve put up with, you didn’t have to. You’re mad that the joy you’ve lost wasn’t his for the taking and you’re done. Just plain done and you want your stuff back – your God-given things. You’re tired of thinking about what could be and want to start living like things SHOULD be. People have died in prisons for the faith with more joy and great relationships than many who live in outward peace. It’s really not about our outward circumstances – it’s a heart state, living from love and experiencing joy and peace in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Those things are ours. If our life is not matching up with what He has promised – we’re being stolen from. Please understand, I am not talking about an outward state or health, I am talking about our hearts and where they rest. The abundant life can’t be touched by outward circumstances. Sure, it can be in a whirlwind for a bit, but eventually inward peace and joy should be what we’re walking in.
Even if we don’t like this or disagree with it, the enemy still is looking to wreak havoc in our lives. We can ignore it, hide from it and even dismiss it, but these things will never work to defeat him. I Peter 5:8 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. I have heard it said that the enemy won’t mess with you if you don’t mess with him, that he doesn’t need to mess with us because we sabotage ourselves so much, that he won’t waste time on us or our family and other such things. If this is true, I’m not really sure where the command “Stay alert!” comes in.
Is everything in our life the enemy messing with us? Absolutely not! but I can guarantee that more of our thoughts than we would ever guess are little lies that he is planting and trying to get us to agree with. Think about our tendency to exaggerate when something happens in a relationship – this happens in marriage all of the time. Let’s remember, the enemy hates the marriage relationship and will actively try to destroy it. “He ALWAYS does that” or “She NEVER does that.” While it could be true that those things happen, once we decide against that person, an agreement has been made and we are laying the tracks for discord in that relationship. Usually what follows those statements is a barrage of accusations in our mind against that person. Whenever accusations fill our mind, we are joining forces with the ‘accuser of our souls.’ The accuser of you is also the accuser of your children, your husband and your friends.
Can I just admit that even finishing up writing this blog, I could hear THAT fight erupt in the basement. Immediately, I went to “He/she ALWAYS does that!” and I felt anger rise up immediately. I went with it for a minute and fuel was added to the fire rather than using God’s wisdom to calm things down. Literally, this happened when I finished the last word of this and then I didn’t really want to publish this. Hmm.. I wonder what is going on here? See how easy it is to go the wrong direction immediately? I forgot pretty quickly, but I remembered sooner than I used to and that is growth! I would venture to say that mental dialogue ‘always’ and ‘never’ does not fall in line with Philippians 4:8 “And now dear brothers, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about these things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
This does not mean if we have been offended, we gloss over it, keep going and never deal with it. This is also detrimental to a relationship and becomes a cancer within. It’s like a wall we build around ourselves until we are eventually unreachable and closed off. I know this because I’ve lived behind those walls and isolation and loneliness awaits us there – not freedom. Instead, we go to the One Who understands all things and all hearts involved and remember what it says in Ephesians:
Ephesians 6:11-13 NLT Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm.
We may pray something like this:
“God, I thank You that I can trust You with my heart. Right now, I am so frustrated with ______ and I feel offended because this keeps happening over and over. Help me to see this as you do. (Belt of Truth) Please heal the place in my heart that is so offended by this. Show me how You see me and help me to rest in that and protect my heart from the lies that I am believing because of this situation. I am sorry that I have agreed with what the enemy has said about ______ and our relationship. (Breastplate of Righteousness -making sure we repent of our wrong) Please help me to see things as You do and to see the enemy as the enemy. Help me to remember that _______ is not my enemy. Please change our heart and open our eyes to see this situation for what it is. Help me to have grace and unconditional love toward ______, and help me to walk in love and wisdom towards them. (feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace) Thank You that there is not a relationship that is broken enough that You can’t fix it. There is not a fight that happens so often that You cannot resolve it. There is always hope where You are involved. (Shield of Faith) (Helmet of Salvation) Help me to side with what You say about ______ and help me to walk in love toward them. Teach me Your way so that I can walk in it. (Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God) I pray that You will be glorified and that this will be a testimony to Your power and grace. Thank You that You have given me all I need to walk in grace and love.”
What God intends is for us to be on the same side, fighting the right thing. What the enemy intends is to get us on opposite sides and fighting each other. He does this in marriages, between parents and children as well as in friendships and church relationships. He loves it when we begin fighting and wounding each other. Sometimes we glimpse it because the enemy may have overplayed his cards.
This happens quite often actually, but I distinctly remember a couple of years ago in our family where we suddenly could see what was going on. Nothing will move you to pray like really seeing! We were just kind of living life, going along when we found ourselves in the midst of a battle. We had always been in one and we had seen glimpses before, but this one snuck up on us. We had kind of forgotten really. Moving into a new house, getting settled and basic life left us distracted and blissfully unaware. Suddenly, it seemed we were a mess of discord. It had slowly descended into that. We usually get along as a family really well and we genuinely enjoy being together, but that summer was different. Everyone was getting on each other’s nerves, we were starting to encounter things we hadn’t encountered with our children and naturally assumed it was because we were hitting ‘the teenage years.’ I seemed to once again master the ‘eye roll’ that I had become so adept at in junior high and was pretty much just annoyed – a lot. At the same time, my mind was a constant recording of accusations. They were loud and relentless. I had dealt with it sometimes before, but this was not the normal every once in a while type of thing. This was all. the. time. At this point, we got a clue that maybe, just maybe, this was not just a weird season in our lives, but perhaps the enemy was in there stirring up dissension and discouragement where he could. We prayed a lot and what we didn’t know is that we were on the threshold of a pretty monumental move of God in our lives. He has done more freeing, healing and growing in the past one and half years than I could write a book about. Those ‘teenage years’ problems are not there. It is a different season to be sure with a lot of learning and growing pains for all of us, but our relationships are good and healthy.
The enemy is not going to set up a stronghold or a fight around something that is not valuable. Often it will be a widespread lie (teenage years, marriage, mother-in-law relationships, etc etc) that many believe and have come to accept as normal. Think about that for a moment! If that doesn’t stir up some fight, I don’t know what will! Your relationships? They’re valuable! Your time getting to know the One Who is fighting for and with you? Valuable! An accurate view of how God sees you? INCREDIBLY valuable! Your children? Valuable! Your joy? Valuable! Your peace? Valuable! Your hope? Valuable! You see, the enemy will fight you where there is something valuable at stake. What are your biggest battles or struggles? There is something of value there. Ask God to help you see it.
As I’ve been waking up, I am motivated to pray. I am seeing more often the places where the enemy is strategizing against my children, my marriage, me, my family, my friends, their family, my church, my neighbors and even those I see in my community. Yes -the haggard mom who is so the mom she didn’t want to be that the police need to be called, her children with broken lives, the neighbors who have police at their door twice a week, the man I know who can’t stop doing drugs and is spiraling downhill before my very eyes, the hopeless homeless on the street corners begging, the rich and empty, the lonely stay at home mom, the busy and exhausted working mom, the single mom who just can’t seem to make life work, the man who can’t seem to find his stride, the man who has found his stride but is inwardly crumbling, the orphan who is alone, the divorced, the abused, the broken, the sick – I see these and my heart aches. Lives are being pilfered and looted before my very eyes, before OUR very eyes – whether we notice or not. I feel compelled – I cannot speak to all, but I can pray. I can pray HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done in their lives. I can be moved to fight. I can pray HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done in MY life, in my family’s life, in my marriage, in my friendships, in my church and in my community.
Friends, let’s be wise and live with eyes wide open. Let’s not be so busy that we just kind of live ignorant to what is really going on. Let’s hit our knees and pray to the One Who has already won every battle through the Cross. Let’s do our fighting on our knees and not with our mouths, our cold shoulders, our ignoring and our retreating. We were made to fight!