My husband Chris has recently been facing several rounds of health concerns. Each of these has had us waiting with uncertainty for follow-up tests and clarity. We have been wondering what the future holds as we navigate this terrain. So far, we have stayed relational and prayerful on the struggles. We have been especially careful to avoid talking about our challenges within earshot of our children. We do not want to frighten them as we process our “What ifs” about the ordeals.
This evening, our 8-year-old was having trouble settling down for the night. He kept popping up out of bed with one excuse after another. After being tucked in for the fourth time, he said, “Mommy, I just feel like something isn’t right.” I leaned in and stroked his head, gently encouraging him to talk with Jesus about his “off” feeling.
I nudged Andrew to remember a previous moment when he felt Jesus was close to him and talk with Jesus about this. I listened in as Andrew prayed, “Jesus, what do you want me to know?” Much to my surprise, Andrew turned to me and said, “I think Daddy is going to die.” I was taken aback by this statement, so I replied, “Honey, why do you think this?” He replied, “Because red letters came across my mind that read “Your dad is going to die!” I quickly hugged Andrew and told him I was going to invite Chris to come in and pray with us.
I returned with Chris. Together, we validated Andrew’s feeling of fear, then the three of us prayed together. We asked for Jesus’ peace and protection over Andrew and our family. Chris talked with Andrew about how our days are numbered, and Chris shared that he is not going to heaven until Jesus says it is time to come home.
During our prayer time, Chris invited Immanuel to shield us from the enemy’s arrows (1). We asked Jesus to bless those who curse us, and to humble the powers of the air that come against us (2). We then invited Jesus to replace our fear with His peace, and to foil the enemy’s plans. Chris told Andrew that the Bible says our enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy,” which brings fear. So, anytime we feel afraid, it becomes an opportunity to talk and sit with Jesus, ask Him to comfort us, and trade in our fear for His peace (3). We asked for God’s armor over our family (4).
After a moment of “warfare praying” (as this type of prayer is often called), we encouraged Andrew to again reflect on how it feels when Jesus is near. We asked him how he was feeling at this point, and he said “peaceful.” Five minutes later, I checked on Andrew, and he was already asleep. Our son had traded in his fear for Immanuel’s peace.
It is possible that many of you have some fears, confusion, or distortions about spiritual warfare. This is understandable because Hollywood glamorizes demons, while some Christ-followers may deny their existence, or, in their immaturity, glorify it. The truth is, this stuff is real. Spiritual warfare was present in Bible times, and it is real and present today. We know the enemy’s character from Scripture, which tells us the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour (5).
The old serpent is a predator in search of weaknesses and vulnerabilities to exploit. You can bet our children are on his radar. The bigger question is this—is he on yours? As parents, we must recognize the spiritual warfare component of our Christian walk, be prayerfully vigilant, and teach our children to do the same. The good news is we do not have to physically arm wrestle demonic influences or hide in a closet somewhere. We can turn to the Prince of Peace for comfort, and the Lion of Judah for deliverance.
People sometimes ask us why we don’t talk more about spiritual warfare at many of our events or in our materials. There is a simple answer. Our friends and partners at Deeper Walk International already have this topic covered! Deeper Walk is a great and balanced ministry with a number of excellent resources and materials to learn more about spiritual warfare (6). We highly recommend them!
Our approach to spiritual warfare is quite simple. The absence of relational skills makes us more vulnerable to the enemy’s schemes and influence. When we do not recover, do not rest, stay stuck in our pain, remain immature, etc., we are vulnerable to the enemy’s antics, even gullible to his manipulation. However, we make it harder for the enemy to work in our lives when we live with an awareness of God’s presence (Skill 13), stay relational when things go wrong (Skill 12), stop when things become intense (Skill 9), and return to joy from our upsets, conflicts and big emotions (Skill 11). There is more, but I hope you get the picture. We bolster our relational defenses when we more closely mirror the character of Christ through developing our relational skills. May God empower each of us to live with wisdom and boldness to reflect our Lord in good times and bad.
- Ephesians 6:16: “…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
- This is based on Matthew 5:44 and it is important to clarify that sometimes people participate with darkness, knowingly or unknowingly, to use demonic means to come against God’s people. With this lens, an important distinction is this: we forgive people, and pray against demonic influences and strongholds.
- John 10:10
- Ephesians 6:10-20
- 1 Peter 5:8
- Deeper Walk International, deeperwalkinternational.org