Until this year my experience with spiritual warfare has been limited to Satan spewing lies into my life to bring me down and away from God. I have however, come to know how to recognize and combat those attacks fairly easily after 20 some odd years of the same tricks. More tangible spiritual warfare has not been part of my experience until this past summer when I went to Haiti. I now realize that my experiences there, however tame they might have been, were vital to preparing me for what Satan threw at me this week.
Short time-out: Readers, I have a deep desire to show you the power of God without causing you to stumble over my wording or the idea that I am speaking about demons being in close proximity to me. I know many people are not comfortable or even aware of the spiritual realm, especially the war between angels and demons that is happening all around is. (If you are not, I recommend the novel, “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti. It is eye-opening to what spiritual warfare is, to say the least about it.) If you are not comfortable with what I’m talking about please know that I am not describing all of this with the intention of scaring you or making you feel alienated from me. And know that I definitely don’t want this account to be one that will make you feel awkward. But I do want to challenge you, in the way I have been challenged this week, to acknowledge the spiritual realm. I challenge you to open your heart to the Holy Spirit for more that just answering prayer requests and helping us make decisions. And I challenge you to recognize that, just because we don’t experience demonic and angelic presences in America the same way other countries tend to, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t acknowledge that spiritual battles are in all of our lives, whether we choose to address it or not. I am pretty new to all of this as well and I don’t have much figured out but I do know that everything about this story should be for God’s glory and God’s glory alone. Please read on with an open mind.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to Haiti... in Haiti an amazing woman on our team, Jackie Conroy, showed me what it looked like to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit. While anointing the house of a newly saved witch doctor I felt the Holy Spirit move to drive out the evil presences that were still dwelling on the property. Demons that had once been invited to dwell there, through voodoo, were eradicated because of God’s power through our answered prayers. Before that experience I had no clue what it looked like to trust God to cast evil spirits from anything so I still wasn’t fully open to what God was doing but I still saw how powerful He can be against the power of the devil. Without this trip to Haiti I would never have learned what to say, what to do, or even how to respond to a spiritual attack of that caliber. Thankfully though, I watched Jackie, and her walk with God, like a hawk. And I learned. I learned how amazing open communication can be with God and I saw how important it is to be aware of the battle being waged all around us for the world. So if you are reading this, thank you Jackie for preparing me for what I had little idea was coming. Your faith helped prepare me to fight with God in ways I never even knew I could. Though I think you knew that I needed to be prepared for this all along. =)
Now let’s go to the less distant past: this past Wednesday night. After being in bed for half an hour, I heard my roommate say my name. I responded and flicked on the lights after she said that she had felt something and was scared. I knew before she explained further that something bigger than us was going on. Monique explained that she felt something push down on the end of her bed and thought it was me. I was in bed the whole time but she did not make up the fact that her mattress had been leaned on. It was instantly apparent that the fear we were experiencing was not groundless. I began praying semi-confidently against whatever Satan had sent to our room. My faith was low and my apprehension was stronger than my belief in what God could do. Thankfully God’s “power is made perfect in weakness... for when I am weak then I am strong” (2nd Corinthians 12:9+10). And God had plans to show his power despite our weakness.
Praying without faith barely did anything to change my fear though so I went to the word. God wasn’t done teaching us or helping us rely on him. I looked up the word “casting” in my bible and instead of finding verses on casting out demons I found this:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1st Peter 5:6-11).
I don’t know if you can imagine the strength we drew from these verses as, for maybe the first time in my life, God’s word came alive and shed light into our room. I could feel the devil squirming under these promises from God. Promises that God will establish and confirm us, that His dominion of light (not Satan’s dominion of darkness) will reign eternal, and that God cares for us. Nothing can come between us and these promises. So we prayed again, this time casting our cares on God. This time knowing Christ would spread his dominion of light into every nook and cranny of our room and house. This time in confidence that we would succeed when we told the demon that was scaring us to leave. Because we “are a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1st Peter 2:9).
I experienced this prayer physically as well as spiritually. As I prayed against the demon in our room I felt the struggle taking place. My skin was crawling and I could feel that what had come to harm us was not leaving easily. So I kept praying God’s promises over our room and telling Satan to get out. Satan has no right to be where God’s people can be found. So I told the demon that. I also told it that where God’s light is no power of darkness can live, when God’s children are casting Satan out no power of his can remain, and where God’s angels are there is no room for fear. As the demon left I could feel the heaviness of the room and the weight on my body lift. I knew that God had won and was now the only presence left in the room. Where before I was nervous to move and felt that my body was pinned to the bed I now felt free to move anywhere. I continued in praying by praising God because in that moment that was all I could do. I had never experienced freedom so tangibly. Monique experienced God’s power less physically and more visually. She explained to me that as I was praying she saw through her closed lids a vision of a dark figure walking in our room. When I got the point where I felt in my body that the demon had left she saw the dark figure walk out of the door. I couldn’t ask for more confirmation that God was battling for us in that moment.
In what seemed like minutes (we were actually up for an hour all together), our fear was gone, our spirits were raised, and our hearts were glorifying the Lord. This, in my opinion, is what it really comes down to; how God can be glorified through our lack of faith and our prayers. God also be praised that after encountering and casting out a demon we were at peace and slept soundly through the rest of the night.