One final request hangs ominously in the last verse of Matthew’s record of the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from the evil one.” For if we need deliverance, that means we have been caught by an enemy.
Yes, we have an enemy – the devil. He is the Father of Lies, a disrupter of peace, a twister of truth, a roaring, prowling lion who seeks to devour you. AND he is utterly defeated.
Battling against this Enemy, also referred to as Spiritual Warfare, is the kind of lesson I would prefer to teach from the standpoint of a documentary. I would gladly recount victories . . . look back at points of conquest . . . pick apart the strategies of success.
But all I have to offer is a report from the front lines. I’ve been engaged in a battle with the enemy in almost every area of my life for nearly 5 years.
The only victory I can claim: I am still standing. There have been no miracles in my circumstances that I can see, but my spirit is thriving in the presence of Jesus. I should be beaten down, but I am strong in His strength. And the enemy is so very angry about that!
I’m sure I’m not the only person who could speak from the front lines of the spiritual battlefield. Many of you have your own war stories – each significant to your journey with Jesus.
Mary DeMuth gives us this encouragement in her book The Beautiful Battle:
“As women warriors we can resist, believe truth, live in righteousness, walk in peace, wield our faith, believe and quote God’s word, pray for ourselves and others, and live a persistent, dedicated life. There’s no magic formula, no shortcut – just simple, dedicated obedience in a victorious, enabling God.” (pg. 66)
An often quoted scripture that Paul wrote to encourage us in our spiritual skirmishes is Ephesians 6:13-18
13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (The Message paraphrase)
Rather than elaborate on the finer points of battle gear, I want to take a broad view of these verses to notice these are weapons we already possess. As salvation gifts we’ll need throughout our Christian lives, we need to be disciplined in using them.
Three spiritual disciplines have served me well in this battle. (They should come as no surprise to those familiar with Equip Her studies.)
- God’s Word
God’s Word is our offensive weapon to engage the enemy. The epic movies in The Lord of the Rings series gave flesh to the warrior princess in the character Eowyn, daughter of a king. As the men prepare for battle, she fights for the opportunity to take up a sword. Her reasoning with future king Aragorn:
(Eowyn) “Women of this country learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain.”
(Aragorn) “What do you fear, my lady?”
(Eowyn) “A cage. To stay behind bars until youths and old age accept them and all chance of valor had gone beyond recall or desire.”
(Aragorn) “You’re a daughter of kings … I do not think that will be your fate.”
This daughter of kings boldly proclaims that she wants a chance to fight the enemy, to be engaged in noble pursuits, to use her sword!
In a spiritual sense, do you have that kind of desire, or are you content to let others carry a sword while you wait to die? Not to be overly dramatic, but it’s very true that you are responsible for learning to use the Sword of Truth, God’s Word, to fight your enemy.
Are you good with the Sword?
Do you know how to study this living Word of God for yourself and understand what God is saying to you through His Word? Do you trust that the Spirit of God speaks to YOU . . . the same way He speaks to your pastor, commentary writers, teachers or other Bible authorities?
Sure, there is commitment and discipline involved in becoming skillful with the Sword, but you can understand God’s Word.
I began very simply with 2 key practices:
- Writing down verses that impacted my life on 3×5 cards.
- Praying repeatedly for a passion to know God’s Word.
In reflecting on your spiritual life, what ways have you developed to internalize scripture?
Worship is another weapon that I’ve made part of my battle plan. I noticed its impact in my life when I was recovering from surgery a few years ago. Because of the pain meds and anesthesia, I just couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything. (So very frustrating for a Wordy!) But I could listen to music and worship from the heart. I’ve continued to make music and worship part of my daily time with God even though reading has returned (Praise Him!).
Ps. 42:8 became precious during that time:
Then God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God’s prayer.
Oh yes, God brings a song in the night!
The 3rd weapon God’s equipped me with is prayer . . . knees to the earth prayer! Here are some specific expressions of prayer I value:
~Breathing prayer … moment-by-moment dependence on Jesus. This comes when you can’t put thoughts into words but rely on Jesus as your hope, your security, your identity.
~Lament prayer … telling God how much it hurts, then relinquishing that pain to Him.
~Rebuke prayer … when we just need to shout at the devil to flee, we can always call on God to rebuke Satan. We don’t rebuke the enemy in our own name, but only in the strong name of Jesus.
~Filling Prayer … asking to be filled with all that God supplies for all that I lack. “Jesus step into the middle of this situation with me.”
~Scripture prayer … involves reading a portion of scripture, praising God for what He promises there, then asking Him to make my life reflect those qualities of His character.
Mind if I pray for us in closing? ….
Righteous King ~ in our bowing before You today, we acknowledge our utter dependence on You in this Spiritual Battle. Our Enemy seems fierce in this world, proclaiming his authority and power … in vain. Remind us often that his threats are empty, his power useless to stand against the TRUTH of Your gospel. May we live to make You known through Your Word, engaged in real worship and intent in our praying. Oh yes!
GOING DEEPER (for personal study)
1. Read Ephesians 6:13-18 in a couple different translations. What words and phrases catch your attention? What images come to mind in this explanation of our spiritual battle?
2. Matthew 6:13 says,
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
What is the relationship between temptation and the evil one? How does that relationship play out in your experiences?
DISCUSSION (please share your answer with all of us by leaving a reply we all can read.)
How might you incorporate the 3 spiritual disciplines mentioned in the lesson to better fight the battle you’re engaged in?
5 Replies to “Deliver Us”
I think I have pretty well grasped a handle on the Worship aspect of my battle defenses. For me, worship through music and awe of God’s amazing world have been “easy”. These are what I first turn to when I am seeking God.
I struggle with getting into God’s Word – at least the dedicating time regularly for that. I have found that seeking out Bible studies (online or in person) are what motivates me to get into God’s Word on a regular basis. I do notice a difference in my ability to face difficulty when I have been in God’s Word. His promises gently come to mind instead of the world’s shouts forcing their way to the forefront. When I am reminded of his grace and his promises, I am able to hold on to hope. Only when I can’t hear those gentle reminders (because of my lack of studying God’s Word) am I easily discouraged and can’t seem to find hope.
Prayer – outside of the kind that is a stream-of-consciouness kind of prayer – has always been a challenge for me. I just don’t know what to pray! I seem to find myself praying the same things over and over again. I also struggle with feeling inadequate to approach God with specific requests and many times I have just prayed the Lord’s Prayer because I didn’t know what else to pray. (So this study has been especially interesting & helpful!) But you know, looking back, I can see many times where God has answered my prayers – in one way or another. I’m not sure why I am still hesitant to pray more regularly and intentionally (perhaps a subtle attack??).
I think I just need to trust God more – that he has given us these tools because they are effective – and to learn to lean on his Word and prayer as much as I have depended upon worship for peace and hope.
Good to hear your insights and reflections, Becki. Writing this post last week seemed to open a window of opportunity to talk about spiritual struggles with women I’ve encountered. All of us echo your perspective – regular Bible reading and prayer ARE a challenge. I would encourage you to begin with one small step: Choose a verse, write it on a 3×5 card and keep it with you. Let those Words frame your prayer when you read it at natural stops during your day (waiting in a doctors office, sitting for a quiet moment with a cup of coffee, when you settle in to bed at night). When God moves you with another verse, add it, but avoid goal-setting and achieving. Just be with Jesus in those moments. That way of intentional flexibility in praying God’s Word has tethered me to to Truth when life has been overwhelming.
Thanks, Shereen! Life seems especially overwhelming right now. I will start with one small step – that much I can certainly handle!! 🙂
I so enjoy the worship with fellow believers at church, in my Life Group, my Grief Share group, listening to my Christian music, listening to a teaching tape while commuting to work, and reading my Christian books.
I also struggle with daily Bible reading. I will do it well for awhile, then something comes up to distract me and I get off track again. I do that with journaling as well. I allow the busyness of life squeeze out that time and then I get frustrated and angry with myself.
I pray to God all the time throughout my day. I lean on Him for everything I do and decisions I make. I pray with my husband at meals. These special moments with God are important to me.
It sounds like you find many ways to connect with God throughout the day, Marlene. Be gentle with yourself on the days you miss Him in the Word, and know He will welcome the time you spend at His feet tomorrow.