It was as an eleven year-old girl lying afraid in the night watches, that I had my first experience with spiritual warfare as my family was in the midst of deep personal turmoil. It was a scary and confusing place. One that, sadly, the church historically has not done a good job in guiding and caring for its sheep.
I have observed consistently across many years of church experience from Episcopal to Baptist, Presbyterian to Brethren, that true, Christ-honoring dealing with spiritual warfare is rare.
1. Dealing well with Spiritual Warfare is, in itself, Spiritual Warfare.
What better way for the Enemy to keep us divided as believers and impotent in the fight, than to see our views polarized? Those who talk more freely about spiritual warfare are seen as having a low view of the sovereignty of God. Those who are reluctant to use the term 'spiritual warfare' are seen as ignorant to the battle in the heavenly places. If we cannot agree on how to teach an understanding of spiritual warfare, confusion will overtake the flock. So we remain in disunity and skeptical of one another as disagreement pushes out prayer.
2. The term 'Spiritual Warfare' has lost its meaning due to this confusion and inadequate teaching.
If I initiate a discussion on 'spiritual warfare', the predominant response is that I am speaking about physical manifestation of demonic or angelic powers. While I have had isolated instances of these experiences, I believe someone can engage in spiritual warfare daily, faithfully, and never experience any overt representation of demonic or angelic power. Yet, the strong connotations of the term 'spiritual warfare' stunt our ability to learn and grow together around God's Word.
3. We are proud and lack humility to learn from those with different understanding.
It is true that we must test and not blindly believe what those in other Christian denominations believe. This is good and right. But our own personal understanding is shaped by our environment, even when there is solid Scripture behind it. There is too much in the infinite depths of God and His Word for anyone to claim complete understanding on something as complex as spiritual warfare. We need to learn to engage in discussions that increase all of our fervency and heart for prayer.
Returning to my story, I am so thankful that the Lord did not leave me as a confused little girl of eleven. While I struggled for many years with questions without answers and no one whom I found the courage to ask, the Lord led me gently as He increased my faith and heart for prayer.
I am forever thankful for the legacy of prayer in my family. I have always been exposed to those whose views would range from a charismatic-bend to strongly reformed, yet whose prayer lives I deeply respected. When on their knees, in the presence of God, they all knew how to battle.
In turn I learned to lay my questions down through a spirit of worshipping the God of All Love, Goodness, Faithfulness and Power.
Questions are good. Discussions can be beneficial. Yet NOTHING ought to hold us back from increasing time in prayer, as we embrace, in faith, the God who, in Christ, has put all things under his feet...the ones pierced to redeem all of the darkness of this fallen world.
Join me next time for Re-Defining Spiritual Warfare Part 2 :: The Three Essentials
I am wife to a wonderful man, mama to three precious now-little-but-soon-will-not-be loves. Each born in a different place--two states including 2 states and 2 countries. I am a farm girl who found her heart in the city. I can now claim fluency in 3 languages :: English, Spanish & Hungarian.This combined with the all-too-true 'mommy brain' explains much regarding my mental state most days;) I am a sojourner longing for Home. Yet, in my messy and broken, I embrace the moments given with all I have. I am seeking, praying, and learning again and again that it is for His Glory I live. My prayer is that my little life would make much of Him! I write regularly at Abigail Alleman.
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