Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith… I Peter 5:8-9a
Michigan in summer is a beautiful place to walk and pray, and most mornings my little dog, “Mr. Hollywood,” and I walk through the woods and out to the end if the pier on Lake Michigan. While I talk to God and give Him my day, Hollywood lunges after squirrels and chipmunks and obediently sits at my feet when a car, jogger, or another walker passes. If the other walker also has a dog, obedience can be a bit of a challenge, but we try.
But all bets were off the morning a dog three times Hollywood’s size moved steadily toward us from one of the driveways. I could see its short hair sticking straight up along its back; it was clearly ready for a fight. Most alarming to me was the lack of a leash or any owner in sight.
Hollywood, ever the protector, braced his little body and snarled at the big dog, only enraging it more. I yelled at it to go home, but it lunged for Hollywood, grabbing him by the back of the neck. I’m embarrassed to say, I screamed like a little girl. Just then our neighbor came out and grabbed the assailant by the collar and dragged it back into the yard.
Thankfully, Hollywood was OK, due to the collar, harness, and plenty of fur where he had been grabbed. I voiced my concerns to the neighbor (What if the dog had attacked a child?) and asked him to tell the owner, who was visiting for a few days, to please tether her dog.
A day or two later, not certain the message got passed on, I wanted to avoid a repeat of the scene. I am not a fan of bullies, and I wasn’t going to let a bigger dog chew up my little buddy just because it can. In the woods I picked up a stick big enough to defend us with, and as we walked on, I held the stick in one hand and the leash in the other. We were not bothered again.
This was not the first time I had been assaulted on my prayer walk and probably won’t be the last. However, the attacks usually come in more of a spiritual form, such as a wandering mind. After the briefest conversations with the occasional neighbor we encounter, I have to intentionally refocus. Even with no one else around, my ADD mind has to fight distractions continuously.
For years the distractions came in the form of pain. If it wasn’t bad knees, it was a bad hip, or plantar fasciitis, or even corns that felt like bees stinging my feet.
I intentionally make most of my prayers ones of thanks. So whenever I set out walking and I’m not in pain, I start with thanking God for that.
One morning I was happily walking and praising the Lord out loud for His healing when my prayer was interrupted by a sudden, jabbing pain in one knee.
I sensed this was more than an assault on my body. I had gone from pain-free to scarcely able to walk in a matter of seconds – and just as I was thanking God that I had no pain! The first thought that came to mind was that the enemy of my soul was mocking my faith! The second thought was,
Those of you who know about spiritual warfare know that with all the defensive pieces of armor we have, we have one offensive weapon – our “sword,” the Word of God.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He fought back with Scripture. Every time Satan presented Him with a temptation, Jesus responded by quoting from the Old Testament until the devil left Him. (The account is found in Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4.)
So, as my prayer of thanks for my healing was interrupted mid-sentence by a shooting pain in my knee, I quickly searched my arsenal for a verse to wield against my enemy. I immediately thought of one that would reeeally bother him, and I couldn’t help smirking.
“… and Lord,” I continued out loud, “thank You for this pain in my knee! It reminds me of Your word that says, ‘at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!‘ * That means everyone, including the devil and his angels, will be bowing to YOU, declaring that You are Lord! HALLELUIA!“
Instantly, the pain was gone.
I chuckled. Knew he’d hate that one.
It may seem today that the enemy is unleashed and winning. But believers in Jesus have the weapon to fight back – the Word of God, which says, among other things, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4.) The more we hide that Word in our hearts, the better we’re prepared for the major battles, as well as minor skirmishes.
But what if you aren’t a believer in Jesus Christ, or not sure that you are?
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2)
This world is in self-destruct mode. We see it all round us – hatred, war, disease, natural disasters – a lost Humanity. But it’s not too late to turn to God, repent of your sins, and ask Him to forgive you, save you, and make you a new creation. Do it today. No one is promised tomorrow.
A new world is coming, where Jesus will reign. All will bow down to Him; the only choice is whether we will do it willingly or unwillingly. As my daughter used to say, “You can bend your knees now, or you can get your knees broken later.”
The choice is yours.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for making Your Word available to us. Help us take hold of it, hide it in our hearts, and live by it every day. In Jesus name, amen.