“Please pray for me. I’m struggling with spiritual defeat.”
It’s the email message I receive more than any other.
No, not everyone uses those exact words. In fact, I’m pretty sure no one has ever made that precise statement.
But the sentiment is there nonetheless.
You see, sometimes spiritual defeat looks like discouragement.
Other times it appears as addiction.
Sometimes it looks like stagnancy.
And others it takes the form of pride.
Whether you struggle with self-control and saying “no” to temptation or you’re harboring some kind of bitterness in your heart, or whether your struggle is with something altogether different from what I’ve listed here, the root is the same: spiritual defeat.
Why Does It Matter?
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know that spiritual defeat is no fun. There’s a reason for this:
We were made for more.
Not only were we made for more, but Jesus’ death and resurrection remade us for more.
Jesus Himself said so in John 10:10: “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”
Is Jesus’ coming for you, His redemption of you, His recreation of you going to waste right now because you’re stuck in spiritual defeat? Here are 3 red flags to consider:
3 Symptoms of Spiritual Defeat
1.Lack of communion with God
If spending time with God is always a chore, and never a delight; if it’s something you put on the back burner instead of making it your first priority; if spiritual people are boring and spiritual topics make you yawn, you aren’t loving God properly and you’re experiencing spiritual defeat.
2.Lack of compassion for people
If you struggle and strain in vain to muster sympathy for those who aren’t like you; if you have no patience for people with different opinions; if you harbor unforgiveness in your heart that you just don’t want to let go of, you aren’t loving people properly and you’re experiencing spiritual defeat.
3.Lack of control over yourself
If you toy with sin, tip-toeing ever closer to see how much you can dabble get without being burned; if you’ve concealed secret sin in your life that you just can’t overcome; if you’re slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry, you aren’t exhibiting the Holy Spirit fruit of self-control and you’re experiencing spiritual defeat.
If one or more of these red flags is waving in your direction right now, I want you to know first of all that you are not alone. While spiritual defeat isn’t what God wants for us, none of us, by nature, are immune.
I’ve been there many times, and I know there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re struggling where no one else has struggled before, so I want to say again that you aren’t alone. I also want you to know that there’s hope.
The Not-So-Secret Weapon
Ephesians 6:10-20 teaches us about “the armor of God,” those things which help us to withstand enemy attacks that lead to spiritual defeat. I urge you to spend some time pondering this passage with the Lord. But today, I want to highlight verses 16-18 in particular:
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
Did you notice how these verses emphasize faith, the Word of God, and prayer?
That’s no accident, friends. And it explains perfectly why we experience tremendous spiritual victory through the practice of praying the Scriptures. That’s the not-so-secret key to spiritual victory, because praying the Scriptures is a robust concoction of the power of believing prayer (Mark 11:24) and the power of God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12).
If you’d like to grow in this area, one of the most powerful resources I’ve encountered is Praying the Promises of the Cross by Arabah Joy.
This guide packs a powerful punch because of its complete saturation with Scripture in ways that are practical to your everyday life, no matter what area of spiritual victory you’re trusting God for.
One of many things I have loved about Praying the Promises of the Cross is its simplicity. Arabah shares just the right amount of insight to supplement each day’s Scripture, but the focus is always, always on what God’s Word has to say about the power of the cross in your life.
If you’re ready to grab hold of the spiritual victory God wants for you, I urge you to devote some concentrated time in praying the Scriptures using Praying the Promises of the Cross as your guide. Will you choose today to let God’s powerful Word accomplish what only He can do in your life?