Sons and daughters in the Kingdom receive the “ministry” of assault on a regular basis. No, this assault is not from the Father of Light but from the father of lies. At times, the assault can seem unbearable.
Jesus instructs us that the thief comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” Jesus, however, has come that we may have life, indeed, abundant life in Him (Jn. 10:10). Paul reminds us that this life in the Kingdom is “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). But the enemy comes and when he does his only desire is to ruin that which God is doing in the life of His sons and daughters. Among other things, the thief wants to destroy our ongoing testimony with God (witness) and to kill our communion with and dependence upon the Spirit and the Word. The father of lies wants to steal from us the tangible awe of who God is and the immediate remembrance of all that God has done for us practically and personally.
Such moments of distraction and destruction can be subtle at times. But they can also come upon us in waves of onslaught which seek to discourage and depress us into ineffectiveness and immobility. Some of you have experienced this onslaught perhaps in a similar way as I have.
The Ocean of Despair
I remember the season of several months like it was yesterday. I was in the midst of a particularly significant season of growth in the Lord in which He was leading me to seek His presence with my time and energy in ways that were new for me. He was growing me to have an awareness of His nearness to His children which was growing within me more of an expectancy of His activity in the world. And just like that, out of nowhere it seemed, the onslaught of attack and assault began.
Every morning. There it was. Some mornings I would be just awake enough that my eyes hadn’t opened yet. Some mornings I would still be lying there in the bed when it happened. Most mornings, it happened about the time I was getting up. The assault on my future, my identity, my purpose and my life would wash over me like intense waves on dry sand seeking to pull me into the ocean of despair.
Wave after wave of accusation from the enemy would hit me in the dawn of each day. “You’re nothing. You’re not gonna make it today. Nobody loves you; just give up. You are a pitiful excuse for a Christian.” On and on it went. The waves of condemnation, fear and dread would wash over me and I would feel the anxiety and doubt well up in my stomach and chest as if all I was hearing was true. I had a sense that it wasn’t, but it felt true. I felt the assault and it was debilitating. I didn’t know what to think, feel or do. It was awful.
A Wonderful Reality
But even in that, God was causing that which the enemy meant for evil to work together for good, as He promises in His Word (Rom. 8:28). All I could do in those mornings was get up and preach the Gospel to myself, though not I but the Spirit that was leading me to do it. I began thanking God for any and everything that I could think of. “God thank you that you saved me and that I am your son. Thank you that you are a good Father. Thank you that you have promised to never leave or forsake me. Thank you for your love; that there is hope in you.” On and on I felt led until the truth of God’s word became experience in my bedroom. I was just trying to survive the assault. God, however, was working a wonderful reality in my life.
What I didn’t know then was that God was causing Philippians 4:6-7 to be fleshed out in my own experience. He says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I had read that verse before and have since come to have a greater appreciation for it. But in the midst, that verse was nowhere within reach. But the Spirit of God was causing the Word of God to become real in my experience, unbeknownst to me. He was also functioning in His ministry of “bringing to remembrance” things that Jesus had said to me through His Word and through previous communion (Jn. 14:26-27).
After I began praying the truth to God and over my soul, the second part of the passage became experience in my inner being. “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and guard your mind in Christ Jesus.” As I stood there, and knelt there, and did whatever I could to survive through thankful prayer, God’s peace would settle over me just as real as those waves of assault had done.
The Peace of God
The peace of God, though I couldn’t understand how, would indeed settle and guard my heart and mind from the onslaught of the enemy. I was shielded to calmly rest in God and get on real praying ground with Him. And He did more in my soul in those moments than my language can convey in feeble words. God’s palatable presence and peace became real in my experience as the truth of Philippians 4 was fleshed out in my heart and mind.
Make no mistake, I’m feeble enough, frail enough and incapable on my own to get his experience into the core of my being in one sitting. This went on for numerous weeks until my heart and mind were able to digest what was going on in my experience. God was training me, with the working of the Word by His Spirit, to temper what I think and feel against the truth of our relationship and His promises. He was training me about how the Spirit can take the Word from the Father of Light and dispel fear and anxiety from the father of lies. He was teaching me how to more immediately rely upon Him at all times.
The Word works. But I needed to find out in my own experience how to work the Word in prayer. I needed to find out how the Spirit causes the reality of the Word to be worked into us as we rely upon Him, especially in the midst of spiritual warfare.
The enemy wants to steal not just the truth of the Word from us. He wants to kill our reliance upon the Word and destroy our experience of the ministry of the Word to our souls in prayer. But God wants to cause an experience of His peace and to guard our heart and mind as we rely upon Him by working the Word in the midst of assault from the enemy.
I in no way think I am unique or special. I think that God wants all of His children to experience His peace through prayer. And I think that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy the ministry of the Word by the Spirit through prayer in our lives. Maybe you have experienced this assault. Maybe you are experiencing some level of it in your life right now. Be encouraged that the Word works and peace is available.
If you find yourself in the onslaught of the enemy:
Thank God for anything and everything you can think of. Recall any promise of the Word.
Thank God for any specific moments with Him when He has assured you in faith.
Depend upon God to fulfill His promises as you pray with thanksgiving.
Continue until you experience His supernatural peace covering your heart and mind.
Enjoy communion through the Word and prayer as He works in you “that which is pleasing to Himself” (Heb. 13:20-21).
God be praised for the way He deals with his sons and daughters. He is the Father of Light. And God be with you as you allow the father of lies to be defeated by God’s power through prayer!