Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for BCS/WCA! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever felt like you're being attacked? I don't mean necessarily by an actual person or a wild lion or severe hail storm - although those would all be terrible too - but more like you just kind of feel worn down and as though your soul keeps getting beat up in some way?
I guess the specific details of what the attack looks or feels like may vary, and I'm actually not quite sure if there is a definitive way to know, yes I'm currently under attack. But I have to wonder, based on the number of times the Bible uses language that has to do with fighting or battles, if there are attacks happening much of the time, whether we're aware of them or not.
In 1 Peter, we read about how the devil "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." And in Ephesians, we're told to "put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." So even though we may not recognize all the attacks, and we might sometimes mistakenly call some things attacks that are not actually attacks, it still seems likely that we are indeed in some kind of battle - whether we want to be or not - just by being alive.
I don't know about you, but when I start to think about being in a battle, I generally have one of two initial responses - one is to double down and try to fight harder. I need to pray harder and get more serious about reading my Bible. I should probably be fasting too. The other is to feel so overwhelmed that I can hardly bring myself to do anything. I'm just too tired. How can I possibly be expected to fight?
The thing I easily miss when it comes to praying is that it's not meant to be a thing I do on my own. Later in the passage about putting on the full armor of God, Paul advises us to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests". He doesn't say "pray with all your might" or "pray like you mean it"... the description right after the advice to pray is to do so "in the Spirit".
We aren't meant to pray on our own!
Somehow prayer is meant to be a thing we do along with the Spirit of God. I like how I recently heard John Mark Comer explain this concept in an interview:
"I'm discovering the power of what ancient Christians called synergy, which is a great word for a kind of partnership with the Spirit of God, where we work in tandem with God. It's almost like surfing a wave or sailing a boat, where there's effort on our part, but really we're following the move of the Spirit."*
How cool is that? So yes, we are doing battle when we pray, but we're not just fighting against our enemy, or fighting FOR God, we're fighting along WITH God and, perhaps even more amazing, He is fighting through us.
It seems like one of the things that makes being under attack so hard is that we tend to lose the ability to see very far. It's kind of like all we can see is the very oppressive thing that is bringing us down. If the attack feels a little like being pelted by hailstones, it's hard for us to imagine that there is anything else happening at the moment, even if in the next town over, all is calm and quiet.
Maybe this is where prayer comes in. When you're the one being attacked, you're right in the middle of it and you can't really see clearly what is even happening. But God certainly sees and knows, and other people who aren't right in your circumstances have a unique ability to pray from "the outside". Likely they're going to pray differently because they're not experiencing it like you are.
What if we were more bold both in praying for those around us who are under attack and in asking others to pray for us when we are under attack, all the while remembering that we are not meant to pray on our own strength? Could we begin to tap more into the power of God, who is mysteriously both outside of us as well as within us?
The next time you feel you are under attack, likely you will still have no idea how things are going to work out. But maybe just knowing you are experiencing an attack can help you to know a little better how you can be praying. (Or if others you know are experiencing an attack, maybe thinking of it that way can help you to know to pray for them.)
Maybe what you need, what all of us need, is that outside-of-ourselves perspective. That reminder that there is more happening than what we can see.
I know sometimes it probably feels like we're losing. And we might wonder, are we even supposed to keep fighting? John Mark Comer has some great advice on this topic as well, when it comes to figuring out how we know when or how we're supposed to do battle. He says, "You read Scripture, you pray, you daily die to your flesh, and you live in community."*
Isn't it interesting that prayer itself is not the only thing we're meant to do when it comes to engaging in spiritual battle? A. J. Swoboda writes about a term he calls "spiritual triangulation". He describes it as a way of discerning God's will, using three points - Scripture, community, and prayer.
As we continue to pray, whether we are the ones feeling we're under attack, or we're battling along with God for others who are being attacked, may we grow in each of these areas. May we study and know the Scriptures. May we find ways to live well in community. And may we be ever more persistent and reliant on God's Spirit in prayer.
*Note: Both of these excerpts came from this really great interview with John Mark Comer - I would highly recommend the whole thing if you have time to listen.
Pray with me...
... that God would enable us to pray in His Spirit
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
... that God would deepen our love for and understanding of His Word
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Psalm 119:97
... that God would raise up strong communities for students, teachers, and parents throughout ACSD and beyond
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
Photo credit: Ginnie Lodge
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory