When praying powerful prayers, we can expect spiritual attack. It is part of the life of the spirit, and we are spiritual beings. I think it is important to help our kids understand spiritual attack, and know how to call upon the name of the Lord. As the Lewis quote below shows, while it’s not healthy to dwell upon Satan and his minions unduly, it’s also not safe to ignore them.
Recently, I wrote a letter to my girls about spiritual warfare. I have their permission to share it with you. As always, check my words with God’s Word, but I hope it will give rise to a good discussion with your family.
I was spending time with the Lord today, reading Dallas Willard’s Hearing God, and I was thinking about writing to y’all about spiritual warfare. I asked the Lord whether I should take time out of my quiet time with Him to write you. Almost immediately (which doesn’t always happen), I heard an inner voice say, “Write the Letter.” I said, “Are you sure, Lord?” The voice said again, “Write the Letter.” So, here you go:
I hope your mother and I have helped you see that God’s Word is true, that there is another realm than what you see with your eyes, and that angels and demons are a part of reality. Scripture is clear that we should know about these things so we’ll be on guard. But, we also shouldn’t obsess about them, either. C.S. Lewis said, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” Not every flat tire or bad day you’ll ever have is a demonic attack. But, you will be attacked, especially at times like this in your lives, when God has tilled the soil of your hearts this summer and done so many wonderful things in drawing you closer to Him. This is exactly the time when the enemy will attack. He wants to distract you, to make you think you’re weak, to make you feel defeated.
You are not, however. You are a child of the Most High, and as His child, you have authority over the demons. The authority is not your own, so never grow prideful in that. Your authority is given to you by your Father and comes to you through the Holy Spirit who lives within you. He gives you great power, power in His Name and only through His Name. You have no power otherwise.
When demons lie to you, they usually, but not always, do so in the third person. The voice you hear inside your head will be an accusation, and it will be addressed as “you,” rather than “I”: So, “why can’t you get this right? Why do you keep screwing this up?” Rather than, “What am I doing and why am I doing it?” If the voice seeks to rationalize your sin, to shame you for your sin, beats you up over your sin, calls out to your to wallow in your sin, rather than to repent, leads you to hate yourself rather than to accept that you are one who sins, but that Christ’s blood was shed for you and frees you from that sin, the voice is probably demonic.
Demons won’t come to you with bat’s wings and forked tails. Often they’ll come beautifully, looking like a friend. In the wilderness, when Satan was tempting Jesus, He probably didn’t look red, with horns and a tail. He probably looked quite attractive. The stones probably started looking and smelling to Jesus like the tastiest buttered bread the world had ever seen. Listen to what they say, not how they appear.
The best indicator is the Word of God. When God speaks to you, He may do it through circumstances and others, but mostly He’ll do it through your heart, an inner voice. His words carry an authority, a spirit or feeling, and a content that is clearly consistent with the Scriptures. That’s how you’ll know it. Satan’s voice is the opposite. Most of the time when you hear it, you’ll be tired and weak so you might not recognize it at first, but if you pray for discernment you’ll see that it’s illegitimate (without that weight or authority), has a slimy or sketchy spirit, and, even if the content follows one or two lines of Scripture (because Satan knows it better than you do), it won’t follow the totality, the Spirit of God’s Word.
When Satan and His demons torment you, rebuke them in the name of Jesus. Sometimes, when the torment is strong, it will require a fair amount of prayer. A lot of times, in the Bible, demons flee spontaneously. It doesn’t always work that way; sometimes it takes time and prayer to chase them away. Ultimately, however, they will flee from you, and you will be stronger. As you grow more mature spiritually, Satan and his demons still tempt and torment, but his ability to pester you grows weaker and more temporary. The closer you are to Jesus, the more powerful you are in the Spirit, the more you are able to command the spirits. That’s why Jesus could say certain spirits could not be cast out except through prayer, and yet He casts them out, seemingly without praying. Jesus had prayed diligently and often leading up to that point, and His connection with the Spirit was such that He was able to cast the demons out immediately.
You can’t hurry spiritual maturity. You can and should engage in spiritual disciplines (like prayer, Bible reading, fasting, solitude, and reflection), and continue to pursue Jesus. But, the Holy Spirit will work in you, and He will work in His timing. If you are pursuing Jesus, your seeming immediate success or seeming lack of immediate success in spiritual warfare is not your responsibility, or anything you’re doing right or wrong. It is the Spirit’s work in you, according to His timing. In the meantime, He has you safe in His hands, and even if you suffer, you cannot ultimately be harmed. The Spirit will use the very things the devil intends to torment you to make you stronger so you can resist him more effectively in the future.
I love y’all, and I am so proud of who you are becoming.