When you set out to go to Mass, help a friend or have a quiet prayer time – what happens? Your children balk, you get into a heated discussion with your spouse, your phone and doorbell ring at the same moment. Maybe your self-talk convinces you that you don’t need to do that good work. Spiritual attacks come in many disguises, as I wrote about in Tonic soup and spiritual warfare. I’m sure you can name those that plague you, especially when busyness, sadness or lack of sleep lower your resistance to spiritual attacks.
How do you counteract to spiritual attacks so you can live and grow in the Lord, fully in his presence and grace? How do you combat the constant assaults on your spirituality that leave you emotionally drained, confused and self-centered? Here are ten counter punches that work for me:
- Plug in. Strengthen your faith by increasing your daily prayer time to connect with God your creator; Jesus, your brother, and the Holy Spirit, your advocate, who keep you grounded in who you are as a spiritual being.
2. Arm yourself with Ephesians 6:10-17:
“Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
3. Watch your emotions. Emotional eating, drinking, shopping or other excesses ease your insecurities, but only briefly. They delay lasting fulfillment that comes as you confront your fear, anger and confusion. Instead, trust God with every need and every emotion. Eating that third helping or buying that 50th pair of shoes quiets your cravings for now but then makes you crave more. Only the Lord can fulfill your deepest desires and hungers.
4. Call for help. When a conversation or debate is not going well, pray silently, “Lord, I cannot handle this on my own; send your Spirit.” When the attacks come, pray,
Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
5. Accentuate the positive. Avoid negative media. Substitute uplifting books, music, videos, and TV and Internet programs for the degrading dramas that are so plentiful. Seek out the qualities of Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
6. Touch base. Seek Jesus often in Adoration and the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist to stay in harmony with your source. Especially when tempted to “go along to get along,” it’s easy to ignore those inner sensors that detect deception. Look for his joy in nature, art, music and the laughter of those around you.
7. Pump it up! Manage your stress with exercise and good nutrition. Strengthen your body to resist the vulnerability to temptations that come with exhaustion.
8. Practice the Presence. When you pray, “Jesus, I trust in you,” and place yourself into God’s presence you are safely in the middle of the heart of God.We stay in his presence by praising him, as I wrote about in Seven ways to love God by praising him.
9. Invoke the Name. Philippians 2:10 promises us that,
“God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
My friend Margaret Cavnar would repeat the name of Jesus to drive away the demons who tempted her. She said that any demon that tried to attack her got tired of kneeling over and over and confessing Jesus is Lord every time she spoke the name of Jesus. Soon they would leave her alone.
10. Hang out with the good guys. Nurture the relationships that bring you closer to God and limit those that leave you needing to go to Reconciliation. Whether we realize it or not, in everything we do we evangelize the lost. When we go it alone, without the strength of others in the body of Christ, the worldly will evangelize us to their gods.
Do these ten counter punches help you recognize spiritual attacks and build up your resistance to them?
(© 2013 revised 2016 Nancy HC Ward)