“The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls,
and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts.”
Yesterday was the last day of Ramadan. The kids and I have been using a prayer guide to pray for Muslims during this time.
The prayer guide recommended a book A Wind in the House of Islam which we are also reading.
Both have noted something interesting, namely, since 9/11, Muslim movements to Christ have begun to increase as they never have before. Actually there never have been many Muslim movements to Christ. They are virtually non-existent since the founding of their religion.
Several years ago, I heard a missionary to a closed Muslim country tell about how God is moving in these countries. It probably sounded weird to most of the conservative Evangelicals sitting around me, but a huge number of Muslims are having dreams, then those dreams are coming true. The missionary told the story of how he and a friend were going door to door asking if they could speak to the people in the house about Jesus. They came to one house and a woman opened the door. She quickly pulled them inside and told them that the previous night she had a dream that two men would come to her door that day and tell her about the true God.
Muslim movements to Christ are replete with stories like these. One Muslim woman explained the reason this way, “I believe the prayers of people around the world have been ascending to the heavens, where they have accumulated like great monsoon clouds. Today, they are raining down upon my people miracles of grace and salvation.”
For those of us who grew up being told by our pastors and Sunday School teachers that God never works through dreams and visions and miracles anymore, this can be a hard thing to grasp. For those of us who have been told that Satan isn’t really that big of a threat, that our flesh is our only problem, our prayers for people under the power of Islam can be confused, because the spiritual darkness that has held the people in this religion in its grip is enormous. And when one reads the history of Christian interaction with Islam, it’s obviously not just about struggles with the flesh.
In the West most of us like to think that there is only the physical. Yes, we pray, but it seems that we really don’t understand that there is something behind the scenes. When a person has a problem, yes we pray about it, but we tend to look at it from a viewpoint of what can be possible in the physical realm. We mouth “with God all things are possible,” but we deny, in our actions, that there is anything supernatural. As a practical person, I understand this. I am a doer; when a person has a problem, I want to go do something about it. But, as a Christian, I need to learn to acknowledge that I can do all I want, but, ultimately, there is still a spiritual side and the side where God is working is the side I need to be focused on.
I’m not sure if it’s because I have been exposed to such great evil in my life that I find the idea of the spiritual war believable. Is there something in the fact that I have seen far too many people claiming the name of Christ do such great evil to others, even to tiny children? All I know is that when I hear the stories I’ve heard from Islamic countries, the dark and the light, the spiritual aspect, seems crystal clear. And if it’s true there, it’s true here.
“We struggle not against flesh and blood,” Paul says, but we brush over his words with a slight nod and an “of course, but really…” I have believed for some time that this is why, while in Muslim countries there are increasing movements to Christ, in the West, there are increasing movements away from Christ. In the West we believe that our greatest enemy is Hollywood, or the government, or the public education system. But those are only the physical manifestations of the actual problem. We fight and rail against these institutions, but to no avail. In fact, if you’ve been watching politics as long as I have (since I was a little girl…I had a weird family) you will notice that it really is getting slowly worse, and yet more and more Christians are “politically active” and making their voices heard. I believe that is because we have forgotten the spiritual side.
Recently a friend recommended Spiritual Warfare by Karl Payne.
I’ve been making my way through the book and yesterday read something really surprising. Now, I often say that it seems that abusers all go to a special abuser school where they learn abuser-speak because, really, it’s like they all have a handbook with catch phrases they all use verbatim. I have talked with other women in abusive relationships and sometimes I swear we are all talking about the same person. It’s honestly creepy. So, yesterday in my reading the author was talking about the “self-talk” of what he considers demonized Christians, that is, Christians who are plagued by spiritual attacks from demons. Now, I’ve never met the author, my friend is the ONLY person I’ve ever told about these thoughts, yet, there in this book are the exact thoughts I have been plagued by my entire life. These are things he has heard from Christians throughout his ministry. People I’ve never met are hearing the same exact words as I do, that they are worthless, that they do not do enough for Christ, etc., etc.
There is more than just this flesh and blood, we battle “against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” To continue to deny that for the sake of making ourselves comfortable is a real threat. If we are concerned about the way the West is turning from the Truth, then we need to consider changing our view of the spiritual battle to match what Scripture affirms.