During the month of March I have been taking part in a study at (in)courage looking at the book “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer.
I had never heard of this book before, and it was a last minute decision to take part, but I am so glad that I did because God has used it to teach me a lot about prayer and to speak specifically into various areas of my life.
The book is based on the idea that the devil has strategies to bring us down in different areas of life, but that we can create our own counter-strategies, using God’s Word, to fight back through prayer.
To give an example from Strategy 6, which looks at the area of fear (probably the most relevant one for me), Priscilla Shirer writes, “If I were your enemy, I’d magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driving motivation. I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyze you.”
We can fight against this by using verses such as 2 Timothy 1:7- “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” and Psalm 56:3-4- “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man to do to me?”
I found this approach really helpful and there are three main points I have taken from the book:
It opened my eyes more to the devil’s work- that he has active strategies to fight against us, to prevent us from drawing close to God and living effectively for Him. Looking back at certain situations in my life I can see more clearly how the devil’s strategies were probably behind them.
About a year and a half ago, I felt that I had really lost my passion for God. I was struggling to pray or read the Bible, and when I forced myself to do it I felt that I wasn’t connecting with God at all. I wasn’t sure why. I had been dealing with a particularly difficult situation with a friend but I didn’t feel that I had deliberately turned away from God, and yet I supposed it must be my fault as it couldn’t be God’s.
Despite the fact that I had got through that and regained my passion, it had continued to bother me. I didn’t really understand what had happened or how to prevent it from happening again.
Then I opened this book and Strategy 1 was on this very topic of passion: “If I were your enemy, I’d seek to dim your passion, dull your interest in spiritual things, dampen your belief in God’s ability and His personal concern for you, and convince you that the hope you’ve lost is never coming back- and was probably just a lie to begin with.”
I felt that described exactly what had happened, and it helped me understand the situation more clearly, as well as equipping me to fight against this in the future.
We need to fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons, not worldly ones. There is a relationship in my life that has been difficult lately. It’s not really that either I or the other person have done anything wrong, just that we are very different in personality and there has been a tension. I had really been making an effort to be kind and encouraging to this person and to think the best of them, but their responses to certain things had annoyed me and I could tell that I was having the same effect on them.
As I read this book I realised that it was probably largely a spiritual battle. I prayed about the situation and then forgot all about it, until I suddenly noticed that things had changed. They seemed to be responding completely differently towards me and in one aspect of their behaviour, which had been annoying me, they did the exact opposite of what they usually do. The efforts I had been making were completely ineffective but prayer invited God into the situation and He made the difference.
The third thing I gained from the book is that we can fight back. God’s power is greater than that of the enemy and in Scripture we have the tools we need to put together strategies to fight. As I said, the area where I really need to do that right now is fear and anxiety. Instead of either just accepting that they are part of who I am, or getting annoyed with myself for being afraid and anxious, I need to hold to God’s promises and pray God’s promises. This is an area where the devil has succeeded too much in my life, and I still have some work to do on the counter-strategy, but I feel that this book has equipped me for the fight and I’m sure I will be coming back to read sections of it again in the coming weeks and months.
If you haven’t read this book, I would highly recommend it!