As stated in my earlier in my blog, I experienced spiritual attacks almost nightly in dreams when I was first learning about spiritual warfare. In this season of my life, God was training me to battle in the spirit. Ephesians 6:10-17 quickly became “signpost” verses:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Notice that we are to “stand our ground”, a mostly defensive action. Believers have the high ground because of Jesus’s victory on the cross. Christians are protected by the strong and mighty tower of God. The Lord is our fortress! Ephesians 6 is a blueprint (worthy of an entire book) for how to defend ourselves from attacks when they come. Admittedly these assaults arrive in various forms, not just in dreams. Trust me, though, if you are living a life worthy of the high calling, they will come.
During the years of nightly assaults, I fervently prayed for pleasant dreams and peaceful sleep. These prayers went unanswered. Instead, the nocturnal fights continued, many times to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. I had an academic knowledge in my head that the Lord was stronger than the enemy, but this knowledge hadn’t truly clicked in my heart because it still fluttered with fear when I thought about the hideous creatures, plot lines, and screaming lies that tormented me while I slept. For several months, I had a hard time going to sleep because I knew what would inevitably happen when I closed my eyes. Hotel stays were the worst! I made it a practice to tune alarm clock radios to Christian music whenever checking into a new room because I knew I would be visited by demonic spirits at night if I had not cleansed the environment. Demons of lust were particularly present in hotel rooms. Because guests have easy access to erotic movies without the threat of getting caught, it is not hard to guess why.
I feel I should pause here to say that I never had these kinds of ultra-sensory dreams before giving my life to Christ. It wasn’t until I became a Christian and really started praying and fighting sin patterns that I ruffled Satan’s feathers enough to pay any attention to little ol’ me.
In 2007 when my family moved to a new apartment, my dreams were suddenly flooded with demons of anger. These creatures had features that were contorted in ways reminiscent of Edward Munch’s The Scream yet infinitely more ugly and colorless. Rage would seep into me like black fire when surrounded by indescribable demonic hatred. I’d wake up angry and then have a hard time maintaining composure when met with the slightest offense throughout the day. Although my husband thought me crazy at the time, the attacks got so bad that I finally prayed through my apartment anointing walls and doorways with oil. Soon after this exercise, I learned through conversations with neighbors that our apartment’s previous occupants were frequently heard screaming at each other through shared walls, and more than once cops were called due to domestic violence issues. It was only when I prayed specifically against these spirits did they cease to bother me at night. (Some evil can only be rooted out by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29)
Through time and experience, I found I was specifically susceptible to attacks under certain conditions:
- If I had unforgiveness in my heart. That unforgiveness gave the enemy an open door that would have otherwise been closed. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 “To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”)
- If I was engaged in unrepentant sin. God did not and will not let me get by with continual disobedience. He will send chastisement in many forms. One of the ways He disciplines me is to remove His protective hand to allow spiritual attacks. When faced with such raw evil, the only logical place to turn back in repentance is the safe loving care of Abba.
- If I took medicine. I know this might be controversial, but I stand by what I am saying here. If and when I take medicine, over-the-counter or prescription, I proceed with special caution. Drugs weaken cognitive defenses and open hidden doors in the mind.
I am grateful that Father, in His infinite wisdom, did not answer those fear laced prayers to take the attacks away, but instead chose to allow these experiences to continue until I was taught by them and strengthened. Only by practicing do we get better, and as I fought night after night I became a warrior. I learned how to discern quicker, get victory faster, and finally rest in God. The most important lesson I learned was this: Jesus is more powerful than Satan. In fact, Satan and his minions are reduced to quaking inept masses in God’s presence. Just saying, “Jesus” sends the demons packing. Let me say that again so that it might sink in for real even if you have heard this truth a thousand times but still struggle with fear: just speaking the Name of Jesus binds evil. God demonstrates His sovereignty and complete rule on earth and in the cosmos when we, His earthly soldiers made of clay, say, “JESUS!” Hallelujah!
As the months and then years continued, the attacks became less frequent. When my husband became a believer and I had his prayer covering, they stopped almost altogether. If and when I experience a demonic attack these days, God is usually trying to teach me something, or it is because of one of the three reasons listed above.
One evening last fall, I was praying fervently for my neighbor’s salvation before going to sleep. That night, the Lord gave me a dream.
I stood on a road gazing at a field in the distance. It was winter. I saw thousands of black birds on the ground. In my spirit, I knew the birds were unclean spirits. I was shocked by their number- there were so many! As soon as this thought came to my mind, the scene changed.
I was on my bed looking up towards the ceiling. My room was bathed in light (even though it was dark outside). The birds from the field were flying as a united flock above me swooping through in a continuous rolling sea of black. Even in the presence of such evil, I was completely and utterly calm. Peaceful even. I sang quietly as the unclean spirits flew, “I love You, Jesus. I love You, Jesus.”
I woke up still trying to physically and mentally sing the same sweet song, “I love You Jesus.”
I understood most of the interpretation of the dream as soon as my eyes opened and then more as I thought about it in the coming days. The field I saw is where the seed of the Word of God was sown in Amy’s heart just as in the parable of the sewer in Matthew 13.
Matthew 13:3 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.”
Jesus, explaining what this portion of the parable meant to His disciples says in Matthew 13:19, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”
The soil of Amy’s heart was hard packed just like the soil along a path so that the seeds of God’s Word cannot penetrate. In the dream, I recognized the birds for what they were: Satan and his demons. Any seeds of God’s Word sown on the ground of Amy’s heart were furiously eaten before they could take root. As soon as I understood their purpose, they turned to fight me. However, because perfect love casts away all fear (1 John 4:18), they found no purchase in or around me to cause fear. I was free of them.
God gave this dream to instruct me on how to proceed in praying for Amy. I knew I had pray AND fast. There were many demons behind the scenes working to keep her in the dark. Amy has much influence. Her conversion would affect many others- so it is no surprise that Satan would send so many to steal the seeds sown. The dream also served as a warning and a promise: Trials would come when I prayed against these dark forces, but I would continue to rest with joy and peace.
If this wasn’t thrilling enough, Jesus gave me a real life physical confirmation of the dream. Sometimes He does this to emphasize a dream or vision’s importance. I learned this pattern from reading Scripture. In the Bible, when something happens twice, the reader should take notice!
The very next day after seeing the black birds while I slept, my family and I left for a mini vacation on Fall Break. We chose to stay in a state park to enjoy the spectacular foliage. Our hotel had this amazing indoor/outdoor pool situated among the trees. Only a piece of glass separated guests from the outside, and swimmers could easily duck underwater and under the glass divider to emerge outside. The water was heated to the temperature of bath water, so even though the thermometer accurately reflected late October temperatures in Indiana, visitors could still swim outdoors comfortably.
Because we already knew about the super cool pool, as soon as we checked into the hotel, we quickly changed into our bathing suites. We were beyond stoked to swim among the fiery leaves. As we chatted and swam with steam rolling off the surface of the water, the sun began to set lighting up the sky and the trees with bright pink and orange hues. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Suddenly though, a great number of vultures began to fly overhead. Not one, two, or fifteen. Dozens of black vultures spiraled over our heads starting from not far above us and then going up, up, up to an impossible height. I honestly had never seen so many birds of prey in my life. The breeze shifted and I could smell the scent of death. The birds had obviously been attracted to something dead in the forest.
As the vultures swirled above, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Yes… I took notice.
Last December, I fasted and prayed against the unclean spirits attempting to eat the seeds sown in Amy’s heart in accordance with the instructions of the dream. I will write more about subsequent experiences since December 2013 soon.
As for the coming trials predicted in the dream…
My husband changed jobs to work in ministry in January. It was a huge step of faith because of a great reduction in pay. After accepting the position, our furnace went out. In the past two weeks, both family cars have broken down. Our water heater went out last week too. My dad had a heart attack and nearly died a week and a half ago. There is much controversy at my church that I cannot begin to describe here. I’m only hitting the highlights, and I don’t get the feeling that the trials will end any time soon.
But I don’t care.
If this is what it takes to win just one heart for God, I will endure it with gladness. Opposition means I am on the right track. Satan cannot steal my joy. I am hidden in Christ, and I dance in minefields.
As I drove home from work today to finish this blog post, I was suddenly overcome by the fact that Jesus wants me. He sees me, a child with many flaws and an imperfect past, and still wants me more than my own parents. He wanted me so much that He chose to die in my place.
He wants Amy too. He desires a relationship with her. May my heart beat to the song of that aching desire until she is His.
Luke 15:20 “So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.