12 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. — Ephesians 6:12
Being a youth pastor, which I was for several years, I am often approached by youth who are in fights with each other or with their parents. These students love the Lord, they love their parents, but they can’t seem to keep their tempers from flaring. Having been raised in the church, I know that the best advice I can give to someone is “pray about it.” I say that sarcastically, but really I think in this case it is 100% true. If Ephesians 6 is true–and I contend that it is–the arguments they are dealing with are spiritual at their roots. Taking it even further, every situation good or bad in our lives has a spiritual element that we are either unaware of or we completely ignore.
Because I am such a visual person, I imagine this playing out like a school drama. For the actors in this play, the stage is their reality; it is all they see, all they know. The conflict that they are involved in starts and ends there. However, unknown to them, what is going on backstage is what sets the mood and the tone for the drama that is unfolding on stage. A simple flicker of a light, a blue hue, or a change of scenery drastically changes the story for better or for worse. The frightening thing about this is that the actors on the stage have absolutely no control over this. They are seemingly helpless.
If the play ended here, it would surely be a tragedy, but God has other plans.
See, we have not mentioned God’s role in this yet. The actors on their own are helpless against these unseen forces, but the director is not. To the director, God, all things are seen and all things are known. The subtle flickers that go unnoticed and set us off are not missed by God. The spiritual influence that is impressed upon us does not escape His notice (1 John 3:20, Matt. 10:29-30). This is where our number one Christian “go to” comes in handy. If God notices these things and cares for us, which scripture tells us He does, surely we can go to Him in prayer. It would be foolish, now that we are aware of these unseen foes, to not go to our loving Heavenly Daddy and ask for help.
So here is what this all means.
Your first reaction when faced with a fight or possibility of a fight is to logically play it out, figure out what you will say, how to say it, and to whom you will say it. I would suggest holding off on that and spending time in prayer. It may seem a trite thing to do, but if there is a spiritual war going on all around us, influencing our conversations and relationships, prayer should be on our lips always. God is mighty and powerful, and He is stronger than any influence satan may try to invoke. The time to start praying is now. Remember these two scriptures as you pray:
“… Because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
We can pray for any situation with boldness knowing that God is good (John 10:11), God loves us (John 3:16), and God is our protector (John 10:9), and I suggest that we do!