Spiritual Warfare: Faithful in Trial

Sword & Shield SmallNothing pulls us to prayer faster than crisis. As it should. And these days, it seems there are so many difficult situations to take before the Lord. It is a critical time in the lives of our loved ones and in the life of our nation. As the return of Jesus draws ever closer, we will see an increase in pressure, problems, even persecution. The Bible tells us that clearly. (Matt. 24)

Maybe it’s just where I live and the people I know, but there are many who feel they are under an attack from the enemy. And that does happen. It is not our imagination. The enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy,” (John 10:10.) He also comes to distract and draw off course. He comes to tempt, for sin will destroy us as sure as a deadly disease. The enemy will try anything to weaken our faith, to cause us to question God’s goodness, anything to get us to turn away from our Lord.

Satan’s Motivation

Remember Job? Satan’s motivation is revealed to us in this story. Satan, speaking of Job, says to the Lord, “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face,” (Job 1:11.) When that didn’t work and Job, by God’s own testimony, “maintained his integrity,” (Job 2:3) Satan wanted to try again. “But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face,” (Job 2:5.)

Satan wanted God to take everything away from Job and to put him in physical agony just so that Job would turn away from God and stop serving and loving Him. Satan wanted Job to curse God to his face. He wanted Job to strike out against God in anger and rebellion and to sever their relationship. Job didn’t do that. Job clung to his knowledge of God in faith. God, in return, used the situation to teach Job, bringing him even deeper in his knowledge of God and then healed him and blessed his life twice as much. (Job 42:10.)

Faithful Under Attack

In the midst of our trials, we need to remember Job. We need to remember that it is Satan who wants us to turn away from God in doubt. We must remember to always turn TO the Lord and never away. We must remember that John 10:10 does not end with the thief coming to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus Himself was speaking and He said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

When we are under attack and are suffering loss or suffering in our body, we need to be like Job and remain faithful to God, refusing to turn and curse Him. Instead, we remain faithful in our love for Him. Faithful in trusting Him. Faithful in prayer. I saw someone post on Facebook recently that she didn’t understand God’s plan for her life, but she loved Him still. That is a beautiful statement of faith. We have to remember that while God may have allowed this trial to come, He is with us and He will bring us through it. If we will trust Him, we will come out stronger and twice as blessed.

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Spiritual Warfare: Time to Pray! –Pt. 1

DesperateA young father came home from work one day exhausted. Nothing had gone right at the office, his boss was angry, and there was an accident on the freeway making him late for dinner. At the table, he told his wife and two kids about how his project at work wasn’t coming together the way it should. Suddenly, his five-year-old daughter put down her fork and put her hand on his arm. She looked up at him with big serious eyes and said, “Did you pray about it, Daddy?”  That stopped him in his tracks. No, he hadn’t. He hadn’t done the most obvious thing in the world.

Remember to Pray

Prayer is the heart of spiritual warfare. It seems obvious, but the first thing to remember is to pray. Sometimes it’s easy to talk about how we’re under an attack of the enemy. (As someone once said, “Well, what are you doing under there?!”) It’s easy to think about all the things that aren’t going right, but we forget to pray! (For more on thinking versus praying, go here.) A great place to start in prayer is with praise. We talked about this when we started this series back in November with “Spiritual Weapons: Praise.” Praise and worship are powerful. Taking time to exalt the Lord gets our eyes on Him and on His power.

In Jesus’ Name

As we move into praying specifically to break any chains of the enemy, we need to always remember that we pray “in Jesus’ Name.” We have no power on our own. We always stand under the umbrella of the authority of Jesus. Our Lord Jesus, who was born of a virgin, crucified on a cross for our sins and raised from the dead to life by the power of God, is the One with all the power.

By Faith in the Name

Peter spoke and healed people by the authority of Jesus name in Acts 3. He came by a lame man who was crippled from birth. Peter said to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Act. 3:6b.) The man stood up and walked. Later, talking about this miracle, Peter said, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see,” (Acts 3:16.)

Great explanation, Peter! 😉 Notice he didn’t say, “Because I am Peter and I walked with Jesus, I was able to heal you myself.” Um … no. In the same way, just because we are Christians and we know that Lord doesn’t mean we can work miracles ourselves or that we can make Satan vacate the premises ourselves. “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him…”

By Faith in His Power

Notice it’s not that Jesus’ Name is a good luck charm or the magic word. The name of Jesus is not a talisman of any kind. It’s not like, as long as you say that when you pray, you can make things come true. See the difference in that statement? We do not make things happen. We are submitted to God’s will in prayer and we are really declaring His power over the enemy that He has already defeated.

I often pray something like this: “In Jesus name, I stand against the enemy and I cast down all of his works. Anything he would bring against me, I completely destroy. I will not accept this attack on (fill in the blank!) my body, my marriage, my family, my bank account, my career, etc. By the power of the blood of Jesus, I command him to be gone! He has no place in my life. I am a child of God and I walk in His ways. I am forgiven and the Bible says, ‘No weapon formed against me will prosper,’ so I call this attempt to derail me, ‘Done!’ In Jesus Name, Amen.”

This is taking a stand against the enemy in prayer and in Jesus’ Name. We need to pray! We need to pray about everything and we need to pray specifically. The Lord is ready and waiting to answer our prayers.

For a three-minute video on asking the Lord for what we need, join me on my YouTube channel here.

For an amazing song by Darlene Zschech called “In Jesus Name,” click here.

Take a stand against the enemy this week. In prayer. In Jesus Name. Amen!

4 Ways to Improve Your Prayer Life

Do you find yourself thinking you need to pray more? I do. And while we probably do need to set aside more time for concentrated prayer, these four things can improve our prayer life right now.

1.     All Prayer Counts. Sometimes we feel like we’re not praying enough because we aren’t physically on our knees for a solid hour every day. The Lord knows our life and our schedule. The prayers we pray in the shower, in the car on the way to work, on the treadmill, as we drop the kids off at school, in the office cubicle, in the grocery store, at the t-ball game or at the college graduation all count. It’s counterproductive to feel guilty for not praying more. Just pray. Now. God hears our prayers wherever we are and whatever we are doing when we pray them.

2.     Thinking is Not Praying. Sometimes we aren’t actually praying about a problem; we’re just thinking about it. It’s not the same thing. We have to remember to not just mull it over in our minds and try to find a solution, but to bring it to God and specifically ask for His help. “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete,” John 16:24. We need to ask! Ask Him. Now.

3.     Leave It with God. When we pray and ask for God’s help, when we ask Him to intervene in a situation, we then need to leave it with Him. Don’t ask for His help and go right back to worrying about it. We need to release the problem to Him. Release it. Let it go. Leave it in God’s hands. Trust Him to answer your prayer and to do something about it. He will. He’s got this!

4.     Pray in Faith. We need to believe that God is good and that He is going to help us and answer our prayer. Pray in faith believing—believing God is hearing you right now and moving on your behalf. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him,” Hebrews 11:6. Pray in faith. Pray now.

Did you notice the recurring theme of  “now?” There’s no time like the present. “Grow my prayer life” isn’t something that needs to sit on a long-term life To Do list, something we will get to later “when we have more time.” We will never have more time and prayer is just talking to God. So turn your heart toward Him. Talk to Him. Right now. He’s listening.

 

What suggestions would you add to this list?

4 Ways to Improve Your Day

My son texted me at 8:00 this morning and said, “Mom, this day stinks.” (Slightly edited version!) I told him it was a little early to “scrub” the whole day! What to do when the day starts out badly and then gets worse?

1.     Realize you have the power to turn this day around. Maybe you can’t change the circumstances taking place, but you can change how you feel about them. And how we feel is what really determines if we’re having a “good day” or a “bad day.” Change your frame of mind. Tell yourself, “Things will get better. I will be able to solve this problem. I will not drown myself in worry. I will look up.”

2.     Set your mind on the Lord. Have you left Him out of this day? Have you left Him out of this problem? Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” (KJV) Remember you are not alone. There is a God in heaven who is watching you right now and who loves you more than you can imagine.

3.     Ask for God’s Help. This is not the same thing as remembering He is with you. Now, actually ASK for His help. He is our “very present help in time of trouble.” He wants to show Himself strong on our behalf. He is ready to show how mighty He is. Whether it’s something big or small, He wants to demonstrate His love for us. But we need to ask Him. Ask Him for the solution, for the miracle.

4.     Give God Praise. This step is guaranteed to turn your day around. Start to give God praise for Who He is, for His greatness, for His power, for His faithfulness, for His incredible love for you. Say these things out loud if possible. Or turn on some Christian music and sing to Him. At the very least, end your prayer for help with praise. Even if you don’t feel like it, if you make your mouth say, “God, I thank You that You are good. I thank You for Your love. I lift You up and give You praise,” your heart attitude will change. I’ve done this. I know it works. Keep speaking out praise until your spirits lift. Your feelings will follow your words, so lead your life well by what you say.

Lead yourself to a better place. Lead yourself to a better day!

 

Have you talked yourself into a better day before? Do you need try it today?

Pray About Everything

I’ve been thinking about prayer and reminding myself to pray about everything in my life, in my day. I’ve been saying to myself…

PRAY about everything…

  • Your home
  • Your spouse
  • Your kids
  • Your job
  • Your finances

Pray ABOUT everything…

  • Your self: body, soul and spirit
  • Your hopes
  • Your fears
  • Your concerns
  • Your worries

Pray about EVERYTHING!

  • Your friends
  • Your church
  • Your projects
  • Your opportunities
  • Your ministries

When we sit down to work or create or balance the checkbook, we need to take a moment and ask for God’s blessing, His guidance and His favor on every part of our life.

Prayer: the Path to Power

No wonder we are told to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). There are many things to pray for in our lives, but we must remember the power of prayer. God is just waiting for us to ask. He is waiting for us to acknowledge Him and to ask for all He has for us.

Pray first. Everything goes better when we pray about and for it. Prayer shouldn’t be our last resort, but our first tool to success.

Do a Prayer Check—have I been thinking about that concern/child/job/opportunity or praying about it? (See a post on this here.) We can mull something over and over in our mind, but it’s not prayer until we turn our thoughts to God and invite Him into the process and ask for His help.

Trying to make a decision? Ask the questions, “What does God want me to do? What has God already told me to do?” That’s where we find our answers and the confidence of knowing we are in the center of God’s will.

Prayer: the Path to Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).

There is peace when we turn everything over to the Lord. No matter how big or small the situation looks, it is worthy of prayer and peace that “transcends all understanding” will be ours.

Let’s Pray

Join me in praying about EVERYTHING. (“Lord, please bless this blog. Please use it to touch the heart of each person that visits with Your love. Please let each one sense Your Presence and know that You are right him.”)

Remember to commit things to the Lord throughout the day. We need to ask for His help, His wisdom, His favor.

We must not get to running so fast that we forget the One who gave us the legs and the will to run.

What needs more prayer attention in your life today?

What is God Doing?

Do you ever wonder what in the world God is doing? What is He up to? Have you ever looked at your life and thought, “What is going on here?!”

In those moments, it’s important to have a good grip on the fact that—God Has a Plan. He has a plan for you and He has a plan for me. And we know it’s a good plan because His Word tells us so. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.

Can’t See His Plan

Pastor Weaver used to say, “God knows what’s going on, but He’s not tellin’.” That still makes me smile. Of course, sometimes if we ask Him and sit still long enough to listen, He will tell us. Other times He is silent, but we can still trust Him.

I remember driving to work one morning after taking three kids into our home whose father was abusing them and asking the Lord, “What are You doing?” He quickly replied to my spirit, “Answering your prayer.” What? I didn’t pray for this.

What Did I Pray?

Oh, but wait. I did pray for God to bring into our home whatever children He had for us. I did make my life available to God for His plans and purposes. I had been praying out of Matt. 25 about feeding the hungry and clothing the needy, and out of James about helping the widows and orphans. I didn’t pray for the kids to be neglected by their dad any more than God wanted that to happen, but I did pray to be used by God however He saw fit. And He saw fit to have us in the right place at the right time to be a home and a haven for these three precious kids and to ultimately be their parents.

Do we listen to the words we pray and the songs we sing? I surrender all…Jesus, I believe in You and I would go to the ends of the earth…Take me, make me, mold me, use me…

Are We Truly Surrendered?

God is listening. He takes us at our word. Sometimes His answer to our prayer looks different than we pictured, but His plan is perfect. We can always trust His plan. It’s always a good plan. It’s always bigger and more fulfilling than anything we could dream up.

God has a plan for this year, for this month, for this week, for today. We need to invite Him to work in our lives and make ourselves available for His surprising ways. Then, when things look topsy-turvy, ask Him what’s taking place.

The answer will probably be—His perfect plan is taking place.

Is there something in your life that looks crazy right now? Tell me about it–so I can pray for you and encourage you to trust Him!

Pray & Trust

Trusting God’s plan can be incredibly difficult when facing intense situations. And yet, that is where our peace is found. I know of two families, in particular, who are in this position right now.

Prayers Needed

Our friend, Kathee Tomasello, had a stroke on Dec. 10, 2010. She lives in Morgan Hill, CA, has since come home and is recovering, but she is going through a lot of physical therapy. She has recovered some mobility on her right side, but her speech is still mostly “yes” or “no,” with the occasional full phrase randomly thrown in. Kathee needs our prayers.

Another dear lady, Joanne Heim, who I have only “met” through a prayer request from my friend, Kim, had a stoke on Jan. 12th and is still in the hospital. She is in Denver, CO, and is in an induced coma to bring down the pressure in her brain. It’s coming down, but Joanne and her family also need immediate prayer support. Joanne is a wife and mom, an author and speaker. You can keep updated on her condition through her blog, The Simple Wife.

Please join me in praying for these ladies today and in the days to come.

Give the Gift of Intercession

We know that God answers prayer and intercession is such an important part of our Christian walk. To intercede is to act on behalf of another. We need to intercede with God–to plead with Him on behalf of someone else–especially when that someone cannot pray for herself right now.

As we come before the Lord and ask for His healing for these two sisters in Christ, let’s remember to pray about all our concerns. Let’s remember to pray first. Let’s move everything from the “worry list” to the “prayer list.” We see much better results that way. Nothing ever came from the worry list. Miracles come from the prayer list!

Trust Him

God has a good plan for each of these families, just like He has a good plan for you and for me. If that good plan is hard to see right now, we continue to trust. God is good. He is faithful. He has not forgotten us. He has everything under control and He is working things out. Trust Him. That’s our best plan.

What do you need to trust Him with and pray about today?

To Resolve or Not To Resolve?

That is the New Year’s question. It used to be assumed that everyone made New Year’s Resolutions and magazine articles and sermons were tailored accordingly. Then came a wave of thinking that said since we don’t keep resolutions past February, why torture ourselves by making resolutions? Let’s just forget the resolutions and go on with our lives however they are now. While that idea was designed to relieve guilt, it’s not very inspiring, is it?

A Fresh, Simple Approach

The truth is our lives do need change. Just like cars need new oil and tune-ups, we need a fresh approach and new outlook from time to time. I think we should set some goals. The key here is to not overwhelm ourselves. Especially for anyone, such as myself, who is prone to perfectionism. Once I get started on a list of things I want to improve in my life, it quickly grows to 25 or 30 items—too many to tackle!

Let’s keep it simple. Perhaps five things and they must be things we can actually move toward every day. This means our items have to be more than dreams. A dream is good and God-given dreams are best. If we have dreams only God can accomplish or if we know God has given us dreams for the future, then by all means, we should be praying and believing God will bring their fulfillment. But our “five things” need to be measurable and attainable, like all good goals. These items need to be dreams with feet.

Dreams or Goals?

“I want to be a nicer person,” is too vague. How will we know when this has been achieved? “I am going to make a conscious effort to stop insulting my brother/sister through veiled teasing,” is easier to measure. “I am going to forgive my friend who offended me every day until I really let go of that offense” is something we can actively do.

Napoleon Hill, an American author, said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” It’s hard for me to get anything done without a deadline. With a deadline, I can do most anything. Without it…well, what’s the rush? I have three other deadlines to meet, so the item without a deadline falls to the bottom of the list.

The “Only Five” List

So, let’s pray and ask God for direction–for measurable, attainable goals with deadlines. Let’s write down at least five things we are going to do this year, five things that we will grow and develop. Let this list be our overall New Action List.

One of the items on my list is easy. I lost 20 lbs this past fall (although it’s probably only a 15 lb loss now-post Christmas!) and I plan to lose the next (and last) 20-25 in January and February (See? Deadline.) Then, I’ll be done with that and can move on to maintenance and a sustained lifestyle of health. I have to pray about my other four items…

What’s on your “Only Five” List?

You Asked for Spiritual Warfare?

You Prayed for What?

I did the craziest thing at the end of Sunday school yesterday. I prayed at the conclusion of the lesson and I heard myself say, “Lord, help us to grow in spiritual warfare and to learn to use the tools You’ve given us.” Part of my brain was already sending up red flags. “What are you saying? That’s like asking for patience! You pretty much asked for spiritual attack.” Yep, I sure did. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. I do know there was no time wasted in the answer to this prayer!

Old Ways

I could feel something was “off” in my conversation with my daughter this afternoon and it felt like so many times before when we’ve gotten into fights. But I couldn’t stop myself long enough to really recognize and deal with that feeling. I should’ve stopped; prayed and cast the enemy out of the conversation. I didn’t.

Next thing you know, we’re yelling at each other and crying and hurting each other’s feelings, like we haven’t done in months. Over nothing. Over misinterpretation. Over not hearing what was really being said.

Angry, angry, angry. We parted ways for awhile (always a good idea) and then we tried talking about it again. More anger. More tears. Still not working.

Enemy in the Midst

Finally I said, “Can we acknowledge that the enemy is probably coming between us right now because we can’t hear what the other person is really saying? For real.” That does happen. I think one way my daughter and I can recognize this is happening with us is when we are both saying, “What are you talking about?!”

After we agreed that the enemy was involved on some level, we were able to talk more reasonably and apologize and get back to the truth—neither of us wanted to hurt the other person’s feelings. Then we prayed together and bound the enemy and took the opportunity to break old patterns that he has “worked us over with” before.

Victory is Sure

Yesterday, I talked about those old tracks and patterns the enemy lays in our lives and how he pulls us back to them. We talked about how he thinks he “has us” and how his purpose is our destruction. But praise be to God through Christ Jesus, we are always victorious!

I’m kind of excited now. Because the enemy “showed his hand” like that today, we were able to destroy a long-term pattern in our relationship that he won’t be able to pull us back into. We both agreed if we feel that particular explosive feeling during a conversation, we will stop and pray. But it probably won’t happen again, because the power of the enemy has been broken. We do have weapons of warfare and they are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. (II Cor. 10:4)

That’s what we did today: pull down an old stronghold. Hallelujah! More freedom.

Is the enemy trying to pull you back to an old pattern today? Is there a stronghold you need to demolish through prayer?

If You Only Knew…

Great Weekend

I had a great time at Ladies Retreat this weekend. It’s nice for me because Glacier Bible Camp isn’t far from my home. A quick 25-minute drive and I’m there. I had the privilege of doing worship again this year. I was blessed to have help setting up and tearing down the sound system and all my prayers for “smooth and happy technology” were answered.

I love experiencing the Lord’s Presence in worship and I love the power of His Word. The Word communicator this weekend was Jodi Detrick. (You can find her blog here.) I so enjoyed all she shared with us. The first two sessions, Jodi spoke about the woman at the well in John 4 and her encounter with Jesus.

A Glimpse into God’s Heart

“Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10 NLT). If you only knew… Jodi said Jesus says that over us sometimes. That has stayed with me.

  • If you only knew…the gift God has for you.
  • If you only knew…the joy Jesus takes in you.
  • If you only knew…the answer almost here for you.
  • If you only knew…the bright future in store for you.
  • If you only knew…how MUCH He loves you.

If we only knew….then we would ask and He would answer. Isn’t that just it? If we could remember Who we are talking to, we would ask and receive. John 16:24 tells us, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Our joy will be complete when we ask and receive.

Prayer Partnership

God has set up a partnership in prayer with us. This is the way it works:  We ask and He answers–not that God is a vending machine, but that we work in tandem with Him. We ask, He responds and our joy is complete. I think that’s because every time we ask and we see His answer, we are again in awe of the fact that God cares enough to answer our prayers. Every time He intervenes, we are amazed at His love for us. We remember He is real. We are thrilled to see His hand at work. It’s the coolest thing to get to say, “Yeah, that was God. He did that for me!”

Ask Bigger

If we really knew all the good things God wants to give us, how He really feels about us, we would ask…and ask BIG. The Lord put that on my heart recently. I was praying, but He said to “Ask BIGGER.” Huh. I was praying maintenance prayers. I was praying for “just enough” to get by. I wasn’t praying with vision. I wasn’t praying with big enough faith. Lord, enlarge my vision!

I’m still mulling these things over. When Jesus looks at me, what is He saying, “Erica, if you only knew…” about? I need to think about how HE sees me and how HE feels about me. Because…if I can really grasp the gift God has for me, Who it is that speaks with me, I will ask Him and He will give me more Life!

In what area do you need to listen to Jesus and hear His, “If you only knew…”?


  • Hi, I'm Erica ~ a wife, a mom, a Christian speaker, singer, author, and worship leader. I love coffee & chocolate, reading & writing, music & more music, Facebook & Twitter, time with family & friends! Thanks for dropping by ~ I hope you are encouraged here.

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