A Matter of Life and Death
from the series Unstoppable
The pain would not go away. Lying on my bed, I began to wonder if I needed to go to the doctor. Every time I breathed in, a stabbing pain shot through my chest, abdomen, and back, changing locations and sometimes radiating from one area to the rest of my torso.
I couldn’t figure out what was happening. Over the past few years of struggling with a body that treated every chemical and food like a poison, I have spent many weeks of starving desperation, my body refusing to accept food. But I didn’t understand the sudden attack I was feeling, nor could I come close to self-diagnosing even what system was malfunctioning.
I called my ministry partner, Paul, on Skype to pray with me. With Paul’s training as an EMT, he has often helped me assess and monitor my symptoms. But no release came.
We have been charting these physical episodes, seeing patterns of spiritual opposition coinciding with our Great Commission work. So we began to pray about such events before turning to medical help. Especially since after many hospital visits, I discovered that the doctors usually have no clue how to help me.
I then felt led to ask for more people to pray for me. This was the part I hated.
I hate asking others to pray for me. Again. When you deal with chronic illness, you feel you are bothering people with your continued issues. You imagine people thinking: Why aren’t you well yet? Haven’t you gone to any doctors? What’s wrong with you that you aren’t getting better? Maybe you just want attention. Maybe praying for you isn’t really working or worth it.
But even though I prayed with an intercessor from my church over the phone, I still didn’t feel release. Paul suggested we wait a little longer before taking any medical action, because friends were beginning to respond to our online request for prayer.
Lying there, trying to relax, waves of jabs hit me with every breath. Pain….pain…pain
…then suddenly, like a switch, no pain.
I breathed deeply for the first time in a while. No pain.
I moved around to test again. No pain.
Only pure exhaustion and a feeling like I had been through a fight. I looked over at Paul, and said, “I think God is trying to show me something.”
For three years, I have developed techniques to deal with my bodily manifestations of anxiety and complications from malnutrition. I am determined to not let my health get in the way of performing the ministry the Lord had entrusted to me.
But I have discovered there is something stronger than all my perseverance, prayer, and submission to God’s will: Satan’s forces.
Some spiritual warfare requires a large amount of prayer. More prayer than what I can give. The prayers of the Body of Christ rising up against the attack.
Jesus alludes to the fact that some afflictions only go out with “prayers and fasting.”
Daniel was told that his prayers would have been answered earlier, but the angel bringing the help was delayed by the demon “Prince of Persia.”
I don’t know completely how this all works, but I know that large amounts of spiritual warfare require God’s servants to fight more fervently and collectively on their knees.
As in a physical war, while a single warrior can make a difference, one is usually not enough to defeat an entire hoard. You cannot afford to underestimate your foe by assuming a small number will do and neglect to mobilize and train an army. If we are wrestling against Principalities and Powers that rule the darkness of this world, why are we surprised when our single-stroke prayers aren’t enough?
Perhaps that is why we still see a lot of brokenness and evil running rampant in our country. Our condition is desperate as well. Our single, short prayers aren’t enough. We need to gather more, to pray more, more passionately than ever before.
And then maybe we’ll be freed from random shootings, abortion, human trafficking, government corruption, broken families and communities, pornography and sexual bondage, and the tyranny of materialism.
Ultimately, we need a change of mind. Our prayers are more than a religious exercise. They’re a matter of life and death.