This Means War

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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!

14 Comments on “This Means War”

  1. Loss of focus when I AM praying. Thanks for pointing out that this is just one more tool of the enemy and that I must remain vigilant.

  2. Abbey I have been in the fight to repel the wiles of the devil for the last 42 years. Some I win. I believe apathy is one of my problems. We get a few victories and think we are safe , as result I get lazy until the next unbearable attack occurs. Only then do I take action. It seems we need to fight him every day. Let’s face it I’m just apathetic until it hurts. No excuses.

    1. I agree, Buddy. It’s an ongoing fight and we need to be engaged in the battle daily. Our enemy loves to exploit our laziness and apathy.

  3. I can get off track in my view of prayer when I tell myself that I need to set aside a chunk of time to pray, which is nice, but doesn’t always come. I was to be constant in prayer – not waiting for an uninterrupted hour to do so!

    1. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s such a great point. When prayer is simply another task on our to-do list, it can hinder us from constant prayer throughout the day.

  4. So true Abbey, I think I struggle with remembering and truly understanding how powerful prayer is and that it really is divine communication.

    This subject is something I’ve been thinking a lot about with a major situation going on in my life. I’ve been reminded that there is an enemy that is trying to destroy everything God has blessed me with. I’ve been starting to pray more consistently through Ephesians 6, and taking seriously the fact that my battles are not against flesh and blood.

    Thanks for posting Abbey! Love reading your posts and getting an email every time you publish a new one.

    1. I agree with what you said about the need to recognize we have an enemy. I’ve noticed that one of his schemes is to deceive us into thinking other people are the enemy (spouses, coworkers, pastors, etc.). When he successfully convinces us that another person is the primary problem, we’re totally disengaged from the actual battle. And you’re right, meditating on and applying Ephesians 6 is key.

      I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of Paul Miller’s book. I’m always on the lookout for something to read, so thank you for the recommendation!

  5. Also, I really think you would like the book A Praying Life by Paul Miller. I read it with my bible study group in Nicaragua. It’s such a great book that changed my perspective on what it means to pray.

  6. My biggest obstacle to prayer is feeling like if I don’t devote an uninterrupted chunk of time to prayer each day, I might as well not pray. While that is my goal, God can work just as powerfully through intentional prayers offered up all throughout the day. I let my preconceived ideas of how prayer should and shouldn’t work get in the way, rather than just praying and trusting God for His answers/timing.

    1. I feel the same way. I want to set aside a block of time to pray, but when that doesn’t happen I’m not nearly as intentional in prayer throughout the day. On the other hand, I find that when I do set aside the time, I sometimes feel like I’m done and can move on without thinking about prayer again until the next day.

  7. For me right now it’s all about being intentional and making the time. I’ve been trying to get up earlier to take the time to pray and meditate on God’s word and hear his voice but bit behind a stay at home mom with a 14 month old is demanding and draining. I’m getting better but it’s taking time. I believe in spiritual warfare and the power of prayer and diligence in prayer; I want to make a difference not just for me but for my family and for God.

    1. I love your point about the difference prayer can make in the lives of those around us. I’m sure it’s tough to prioritize prayer with a little one in the house, but it sounds like your heart is definitely in the right place. I’ll pray now that God would give you a few uninterrupted moments today.

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