It was a Tuesday morning. I sat down in my seventh grade algebra class and took out my homework. My teacher, Mr. Diaz, was a former United States serviceman, and he loved to share stories about his days in the military. The bell rang to signal the beginning of class, and I wasn’t too surprised when Mr. Diaz started talking about planes that had been flown into buildings. This story was different, though, and my classmates and I quickly noticed the concern in our teacher’s voice. The attack he described had occurred only a few minutes earlier, and our country had been the target. That Tuesday morning was September 11, 2001.
In response to the events of that infamous day, President George W. Bush declared the War on Terror. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were deployed over the course of several years. It was a time in our nation unlike any other I had previously experienced. We were at war.
The reality of war provided endless content for newspapers and TV stations. It’s possible that some Americans grew desensitized to the fight as time progressed, but I imagine it was a different story for those whose loved ones were on the front lines. And I’m fairly certain the sacrifices of war weren’t forgotten by the men and women whose lives were uprooted in brave defense of the American people.
Even as a twelve-year-old, I noticed that effective combat requires constant vigilance, a principle that also applies to the reality of spiritual warfare. The Bible teaches that we have an enemy who comes to steal, kill, destroy, and devour (John 10:10; 1 Pet. 5:8). Christians are in the midst of an all-out war, but sadly many of us either don’t realize it or don’t seem to care.
God has graciously equipped us with weapons for the fight, and a new resource provides priceless training in how to wield one of them (2 Cor. 10:4-5; Eph. 6:10-18). Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer is a follow-up to the hit movie War Room. Shirer’s contribution is unique in that it assumes the importance of prayer while emphasizing how to pray. She maps out ten strategies for prayer, highlighting areas the enemy typically targets such as passion, focus, identity, family, and purity. Each chapter exposes some of Satan’s tactics and includes a litany of Scripture to incorporate into strategic prayer.
Reading Fervent caused me to think about my initial exposure to warfare back on September 11, 2001. I remembered how our nation’s focus shifted in the wake of that day’s atrocities. I recalled how my naivety shattered when I realized the United States wasn’t impervious to danger from the outside. And I imagined what could’ve resulted if our leaders had ignored or minimized the threats.
If we, as Christians, fail to acknowledge our enemy and the severity of his mission against us, we won’t pick up the weapons God has given us, much less learn how to use them. It would be a tragedy if we overlooked or underestimated our adversary, venturing through the war zone of life unarmed.
In her book, Shirer offers the following call to arms: “We simply don’t have the luxury of playing nice with prayer. Not if we want things to change. Not if we want to be free – from whatever’s keeping us held down and held back. Not if we want our hearts whole and thriving and deep and grounded…different. Not if we want to reach our destinies and experience God’s promises. Not if we want our husbands and children living out what God has called them to do and be and become. Not if we want a fence of God’s protection around us. Not if we want to bear the unmistakable mark of His favor upon us. Not if we want the devil and his plans to go back to the hell where they came from. But none of that is going to happen – no matter how badly we may want it – as long as prayer remains an afterthought.”
It’s time to pick up our weapons. This is war.
B&H Publishing Group provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive additional compensation for this post other than a second book to give away.
Congratulations to Alex Markle, winner of the free copy of Fervent!