Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

Battling Bitterness

A Strategy to Target Bitterness

If I were your enemy, I’d use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind. … I’d try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness.” (page 151)

With this insight, Priscilla Shirer begins her discussion of a prayer strategy to combat bitterness. Battling bitterness is not only a very common struggle, but it is also an especially fierce one, don’t you think?

Here are some more excerpts from the chapter entitled, “Your Hurts,” from the book Fervent:

  • Your spiritual enemy, Satan, “wants you long-term angry. And he can use even the lightest offense to do it. … He wants your heart coated with the calluses of resentment, crippled by offenses from your past. Unforgiveness is his design to ‘outwit’ you—to keep you not only bruised and bleeding but unable to experience any power in your prayers or intimacy with your Father.” (157)
  • The enemy of your soul “wants you baking in unforgiveness until your spiritual life is hard and crisp around the edges. Lifeless. Comatose. But Jesus … He wants you free. That’s what He created you for.” (159)
    bitterness
  • “Unforgiveness puts us in prime position for demonic influence and activity to take advantage of us.” (169)
  • The “forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer. … The real facts and details don’t change as you get real with God in prayer. But get ready for some other pieces of information to bubble up to the surface as well, as the Spirit and the Scripture come together in agreement on how you need to handle things.” (161)
  • “The enemy, of course, will want you to balk at this part. He’s been banking on keeping these solutions hidden from you and convincing you that anger and bitterness are the most productive, protective ways of managing the situation.” (161-162)
  • “Forgiveness is God’s command. And it comes with a promise that He will provide us the companion power to pull it off. Don’t expect any other solution to work or to change anything, except for the worse.” (162)

3 Steps to Victory

We can demolish enemy lies with God’s truth. We can follow the three steps of spiritual warfare to destroy the enemy attack of bitterness:

  1. When we are bitter, we are believing a lie—always. So the first step is to ask God, “What specific lie am I believing?” Perhaps we think, “Someone else is ruining God’s good plans for me,” or “I am missing out on something good.” Maybe we believe the lie that we must be in control in order to be happy, or the lie that our worth is based on how others treat us.
  2. The second step is to identify Scripture that replaces the lie with truth. I can’t believe that someone else is messing up God’s plan for me if I believe Job 42:2:bitterness
    I can’t believe that I am missing out on something good if I believe Psalm 84:11:bitterness
  1. The third step is to flood your thinking and your spirit with the water of the Word so that the lie is washed away.

A Surprising Truth about Bitterness

God is helping me to understand this startling truth:

My struggle to forgive is actually a struggle with God.

I think I am wrestling in my spirit with someone who has wronged me. But that is another lie! Here is the truth:

I am wrestling with God,
saying that He should not have allowed this to happen,
and saying that He is not taking good care of me.

When I recognize this lie, I can target the real problem in my spirit. I can reorient my thinking. God wants to transform me through the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2).  I can choose to trust the goodness of God. I can rest in knowing that my Good Shepherd really is taking good care of me.

When I trust the goodness of God, I experience His peace.

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The light of His Presence utterly dispels the darkness of bitterness.

bitterness

May the Spirit of God enable us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to cast ourselves upon His goodness, and to rest in His immense love.

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Last call for a giveaway copy of Fervent:

prayer strategies

Just let me know by Friday, December 11, if you would like a chance to win a complimentary copy of Fervent, and I will enter your name into the drawing.

 

Turn Your “Hit-or-Miss” Prayers into Targeted Prayer Strategies

What are your prayer strategies? Could you use some?

prayer strategies

We understand that we are in a spiritual battle. We “wrestle not with flesh and blood,” but against spiritual forces. We wage this battle through prayer, fighting on our knees.

But do we understand the need for clear battle strategies? Do we fling our prayers out in a hit-or-miss fashion, or do we have a defined plan and target?

We need focused prayer strategies which will effectively devastate the works of our spiritual enemy. But what are these strategies? And how do we get them?

To develop a successful strategy, we must
1) evaluate the methods of the enemy,
and then
2) devise a plan to counter those schemes.
The strategy is both offensive and defensive.

3 Steps to a Powerful Strategy

The enemy’s primary strategy is to deceive.  Here, then,  is how you can develop the prayer strategies that you need to be victorious:

1. What lies does the enemy tempt you to believe? What lies does he tempt your spouse or family member to believe? Identify those specific lies. Those are the specific weapons that you must oppose through prayer.

2. What truth defeats those lies? Stockpile Scriptures which specifically express the truth which will demolish the deception that the enemy is using.

3. Pray those Scriptures, and believe that truth. As you do that, you are using a definite prayer strategy to gain spiritual victory. You are fighting effectively, with precision and with power.

prayer strategies

An Example

For example, if I am struggling with discouragement, I can develop a targeted prayer strategy by using those three steps:

  1. What lie am I believing? Perhaps God’s Spirit shows me that I am believing this lie: “my success comes from visible accomplishments.”
  2. What truth defeats that lie? The Scripture says that my success lies in my obedience to Christ. My goal is to please Christ—not impress others or myself.
  3. My prayer strategy is to pray these Scriptures:

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8, NLT)

“Walk in obedience” to the LORD, “so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you do.” (1 Kings 2:3, NIV and NLT)

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

A Helpful Resource

prayer strategies

I recently read Priscilla Shirer’s new book Fervent, which is a resource designed to accompany the movie War Room. The book’s subtitle is A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer. (These strategies form a powerful battle plan for men, too!)

Priscilla does a fantastic job of examining nine definite prayer strategies, each discussed in a separate chapter. I like the way she begins each chapter with a short analysis of the enemy perspective. It is very helpful for us to grasp that! It is precisely what C.S. Lewis creatively expressed in his Screwtape Letters. When we understand the enemy’s viewpoint and objectives, we can develop powerful counter-strategies.

Next week, I will share a couple of the prayer strategies from Fervent.

A Giveaway for YouImage courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanks to B&H Publishing, I have a copy of Fervent to give away. Simply leave a comment on this post if you would like to be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a copy of Fervent. This book will encourage and strengthen your prayer life.

 

Is Joy a Weapon?

The word “fight” is what caught my attention.

Fight Back with Joy is Margaret Feinberg’s latest book.[i] As you may know, I am passionate about fighting on our knees for our marriages and families, and I am convinced that worship is a powerful weapon in spiritual battle. When I saw Fight Back with Joy, I was eager to consider joy as another important weapon.

But is joy really a spiritual weapon? As I pondered that question, I focused on Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” My thinking followed these successive steps:

1. The word used here in Nehemiah for “strength” is maowz, which means “place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold” (Strong’s H4581). Maowz is sometimes translated as “fortress.” The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “LORD, you are my strength and fortress [maowz], my refuge in the day of trouble!” (16:19, NLT)

2. This means that the joy of the LORD is our refuge; it is a place of protection. In fact, the HCSB translates Nehemiah 8:10 like this: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

When we let go of joy, we make ourselves vulnerable to the enemy.

3. So … if joy is a weapon, then perhaps it is a shield, which offers protection. Roman soldiers had shields which would completely cover them, protecting them from attacks above or from the side.

4. The apostle Paul said that our faith functions as a spiritual shield. Could joy be a part of our faith? It is! It is a core piece, just as metal was sometimes the core piece of a Roman shield.

Joy is the faith that God loves us passionately and personally, intensely and intimately. Joy is the faith that God will keep His covenant promises to us without fail. Our conviction that we can trust God implicitly is what protects us from the schemes of the enemy.

Joy is not an emotion, although it can be expressed as an emotion. Joy is something we do: joy is choosing to believe that God loves us.

Perhaps we can say that joy is like the inner layer of metal within an ancient shield, adding strength to the wood and leather.joy

5. If joy is a weapon, then it is a shield of defense. We can choose to keep ourselves within the refuge of joy, keeping our thoughts and spirits deeply sheltered within the love of Christ—a love that is so wide and long and high and deep that it covers us fully and endlessly (Ephesians 3:18).

6. In researching Roman shields, I learned that the ancient shield was not only defensive but also offensive. How interesting! In fact, some claim that the Roman shield was primarily offensive. It was actually used to punch the enemy. It was the Roman soldier’s “main weapon.”[ii]

So … if joy is a shield, then it is also offensive. I love that! We do not only protect ourselves through joy, but we also advance through joy. We come against the enemy—we overcome the enemy–when we practice tenacious joy.

Here is how we “punch the enemy” with a shield of joy:

We will believe that God loves us. (Pow!) We will believe that God is actively loving us right now in this situation. (Crash!) We will believe that God’s love in unfailing. (Wham!) We will believe that God’s love for us is perfect, wise, and powerful. (Boom!) We will believe that God withholds no good thing from those who belong to Him. (Smash!)

7. So … yes, I think that joy is a weapon. Our shield of faith, strengthened with a core of joy, is a powerful spiritual weapon. As we believe truth, including the truths of love which strengthen us with joy, we are well equipped for victorious battle.

Ann Voskamp puts it this way:

The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.[iii]

Take up your shield of faith, with its strong core of joy, and watch God win!

 

[i]  Worthy Publishing. 2015.

[ii] http://web.utk.edu/~cohprima/scutum.html. Accessed 6-6-15.

[iii] http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/06/when-you-want-to-thrive-instead-of-just-barely-survive/

(Shield) Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Something New Today …

I am trying something new today.

I would like to share with you a presentation called “Battle Strategies in Prayer: How to Fight on Your Knees.” In this slide-show, I discuss  several aspects of effective prayer. These are spiritual principles that we can learn from Old Testament battle accounts.

May God bless you as you join Him in fighting for your marriages and families.

 

Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 3)

How are you praying for your marriage? Here is a prayer, based on Scripture, that will enable you to fight for your marriage using “the sword of the Spirit”:

LORD, I lift this marriage to You. In the spiritual realm, I want to surround this marriage with prayer and praise, just as the Israelites surrounded Jericho. “Marching” around this marriage, I honor Your Name as holy. I acknowledge You as Sovereign Lord, and I declare that this marriage belongs to You and that I belong to You.

Lord, fight for us! By Your own right arm, intervene. Tear down every satanic stronghold in our spirits.¹ Bring it down to the dust—shattered, never to rise again.Tear down every stronghold built upon rebellion against You and built upon the lies of lust, greed, and pride.

In the Name of Jesus, I ask that  “the strong man,” the enemy of this marriage, be bound.² Bind up his lies; bind up his accusations and condemnations. In the Name of Jesus, I pray that the captives be set free.

I ask that every wicked scheme of the evil one be thwarted. I ask You to throw the forces of darkness into disarray; rout the enemy through division and confusion so that the enemy is utterly defeated. I pray that no weapon forged against us will prevail.³

Expose what the enemy is causing to fester in the dark, and reveal Yourself as the Healer and the Victor.  Make us aware of enemy tactics, and reveal to us the lies that we are believing.  By Your Spirit, flood our spirits with powerful truth, overwhelming and displacing every deception. Scatter the darkness with a mighty unleashing of liberating and healing Light.

Keep us from thinking that we are each other’s enemies; cause us to know that Satan is the enemy. Deliver us from the decaying disease of  self-centeredness, and free us to feast on Your glory. Deliver us from thinking that this covenant of marriage demands too much and takes too much from us; free us to know that giving to one another is what heals and enriches us. Break the chains that tell us we must protect ourselves and provide for ourselves; free us to know that You “withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11, NLT). Set us free as we believe that You are trustworthy, that You are the unfailing Need-meeter, that You redeem our pain with glory, and that all our joy is found in You.

O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done and will do marvelous things, things planned long ago. I trust in You, and You save us. (adapted from Isaiah 25:1, NIV)

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¹ Specifically name any strongholds that God has revealed to you, such as anger, an addiction, a critical spirit, bitterness, or fear.
² Matthew 12:29
³ Isaiah 54:17
• Other Scriptures used are Isaiah 59:16, Isaiah 25:12, 1 John 2:16, Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah 54:17, 2 Corinthians 2:11, and Ephesians 6:12.

See also:
Fighting for Your Marriage … on Your Knees (Part 2)

Shared with Woman to Woman Ministries