Friday, February 20, 2015

NBA #20: Spiritual Battles

New Believer Advice #20:  Remember that there is a spiritual battle going on around us all the time.
            “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8) 
            “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.”  (Ephesians 6:13)
            And according to Ephesians 6:10-18, our spiritual armor includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, a readiness to share the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit - which is the Word of God - and prayer.
            But how many of us live like Satan and his demons are myths?  How many are busy fighting earthly battles against flesh-and-blood people instead of fighting the real enemy with the spiritual weapons that are available to us: truth, righteousness, gospel sharing, faith, assurance of salvation, God’s Word, prayer, and (I would add) Jesus’ name and the Holy Spirit that is in us.
             “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’“  (Luke 10:17)
            “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome [evil spirits], because the one who is in you [the Holy Spirit] is greater than the one who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4) 
            There is a spiritual battle going on around us all the time, and yet we act like this world is all there is.  And we fail to engage in the spiritual battle for souls and God’s Kingdom, spending our energy instead on building up our lives and enjoying the pleasures this world offers.  And we grow lazy, lukewarm, self-serving, and comfortable.
            We are failing to truly understand the incredible responsibility and need for seeking righteousness, for actively pursuing Him daily in His Word, for praying for His Will to get done, for doing our part in making it happen, and for walking with Him moment by moment in humble dependency. 
            I’ve been there myself.
            But a five-month stretch of demonic harassment (in the post, “Supernatural Stuff and the Armor of God” - click on the “Iron Sharpens Iron” label to find it.) opened my eyes to the spiritual battle that rages around us, to the reality of the invisible world working alongside this one, and to the very real need for us to get off of our lazy, lukewarm, self-serving, comfortable, Christian butts and get on our knees in prayer and get into the Word and pursue Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness with all we’ve got.  That is how we are a part of getting His Will done!  That is how we impact the world for His glory and fight against evil!
            We need to begin identifying spiritual battles if we are going to have any chance to successfully fight them.  Because spiritual battles can’t be fought with earthly weapons.  And Satan is always doing whatever he can to get us off-track.  He will mess with our emotions, our families, our security.  He will use our fears and doubts and pride and self-views against us.  He will attack when we are feeling good and strong.  He will attack when we are feeling bad and weak.  He will tempt us to dabble in sin, to doubt God’s love and forgiveness, and to stir up trouble with others.  He will tempt us to pick up burdens that are not ours to carry, to feel like we have to earn our value with God, and to turn our back on Him when things don’t go our way.  He will entice us over and over again to climb up on God’s throne and run our own lives.  (So much damage gets done this way.)  And he does not play fair or by any rules. 
            He’s always looking for a weak spot, for an opportunity to get a foothold into our lives and our hearts.  He examines our lives more than we do.  He knows our weak points better than we do.  And he dangles a variety of hooks in front of us and waits to see which one we bite on to.
            And there are many more of them (demons) than of ourselves.  And the only way we can have a chance to live victoriously and to fend off the attacks is to remain in the Lord daily and keep our spiritual armor on and recognize spiritual battles when they show up. 
            But we need also need to caution ourselves against being overly interested in demons.  There is not a demon behind every bush or every little thing that goes wrong.  We need to maintain a healthy balance and awareness of them, without being overly interested in them or afraid of them. 
            Remember, it is the One who is in us that is greater than the one who is in the world. 
            But if we are not living in Him – aligned with Him, abiding in Him, obedient to Him, living righteously and confessing sins, praying and growing closer to Him through the Word – then we are vulnerable to the attacks and deceptions of the evil one.  So we need to be alert, but we need to be more interested in Christ than in demons.  We need to abide in Him and in prayer and in His Word. 
            I know that I would not be living with such a daily awareness of this if I had not gone through five months of clearly demonic harassment.  Five scary months that I am so incredibly thankful I went through.  Because I now live with this daily awareness of the reality of Satan and his evil ones, of how we give them invitations and open doors, and of my desperate need to abide daily in the Lord and to seek righteousness.  (Yet I am not overly-interested in demons.  I know they are there and that it’s just a part of life that needs to be dealt with, with spiritual weapons.)  Those five months were some of the most faith-changing months of my life.  I could only hope that every believer would eventually have such a humbling, eye-opening experience like that.  (And yet I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.) 
            But since you might not ever face that kind of clearly demonic harassment, I am sharing my experience, in the hopes that it opens your eyes to the spiritual battle that is going on around us all the time and that it encourages you to put on your armor and pick up your spiritual weapons.  We do not have to fight these battles in our own strength and wisdom.  God’s power is available to us, if only we remember to access it (by abiding in Him) and to use it. 
            How aware are you that you are always being watched?  That Satan is real and active and always looking for any invitation you give him?  Waiting for an opportunity to attack your faith, your trust in God, your integrity?  Whispering lies about you and about God in your spiritual ears?  Stirring up trouble between yourself and others?  Dangling a million hooks in front of you, hoping you will bite onto just one and give him an opening into your life?  Do you live with this awareness?  With a deep, desperate, daily need for the Lord?  Or are your eyes only on what you can see? 
            Do not take this lightly.  The enemy is watching us.  Always watching us and doing what he can to mess with us.  And so we need to be abiding in the Lord.  Always abiding, always in the battle, and always maintaining our armor.  Every earthly battle is a spiritual battle in disguise.  And if we fail to keep this in mind, we neglect our spiritual armor, we fight the wrong enemies in the wrong battle, and we are doomed from the start!

(New stuff for this post.  Condensed version of “Supernatural Stuff and the Armor of God.”  But it’s still quite long.  There is a lot to say.)

My Experience
            I don’t expect anyone to believe me, but I’m going to share my story.  It’s my story about how I came to fully trust in Jesus’ name and to passionately cling to Him, to never be able to doubt the existence of a spirit would, to place such a high priority on prayer and God’s Word, and to always remember my need for spiritual armor.  And once again, you don’t have to believe me.  (But don’t say I never warned you.  And if you are a skeptic and get nothing from this whole section, just remember this: “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.”  In case you ever need it.)
            My first real experience with the unseen world was when I was a pre-teen.  I was at my step-dad’s house for the weekend.  My younger half-brother, his step-sister, and I were bored and wanted something to do.  So we decided to play the classic game “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.”  Silly stuff . . . right?!? 
            We had my brother (around seven or eight years old at the time) lay down on the floor, while me and his step-sister (about ten years old) took a position on either side of him.  We both slid two fingers from each hand under him.  Then we closed our eyes and began to chant:  “Light as a feather, stiff as a board; light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over again for a minute or so.  And then we tried to raise him.  Nothing!  Heavy as a rock and completely unable to lift him a smidgen. 
            I, being the smart older one, concluded that we didn’t chant long enough.  “Let’s try it longer,” I said.  And so we closed our eyes and began again: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board; light as a feather, stiff as a board.”  We said this over and over and over again.  We said it for so long that we kind of zoned out.  It was like a trance-like state where we lost track of time and sense of our surroundings.  After I-don’t-know-how-long, we decided that it had been long enough and we tried to lift him again. 
            This time, I kid you not, he was light as a feather and stiff as a board.  We were able to raise him up with only two fingers on each hand, eight fingers total between the two of us.  We stood up and lifted him to chest level with absolutely no effort.  Meanwhile, he was as stiff and as still as could be, eyes closed and unconscious, completely unaware of anything around him. 
            We, being two adolescent girls, giggled and ooohed and ahhed.  “Oh, look.  It works!  Cool!  Let’s take him out of the room and show Dad.”  We began to walk him to the door and said, “Sean, do not open your eyes!  We are taking you out to show Dad.”  But as soon as his head crossed over the threshold by the door, he shook awake with a “Huh” and immediately regained all of his weight and crashed to the floor. 
            We laughed and ran to tell our dad how it really worked.  I don’t remember his response, but I’m sure it was like, “That’s nice!  Great imagination, you guys.  Now run along!”  And we ran off and found other things to do, forgetting about this supernatural encounter and completely unaware of what really happened.  
            What I didn’t realize, though, was that we were inviting the spirit world to come to us.  We were calling on their help.  And the second time around, we must have given them enough time to do it.  And I doubt, of course, that these were godly spirits.  Godly spirits don’t play these kinds of games.  It’s evil spirits, in the hopes of drawing you in more.  These innocent games can oftentimes lead to dark paths. 
            As an adult looking back now, I am always surprised at how this really worked.  And yet, I’m not surprised because I do, after all, believe the Bible when it says that there is an unseen, supernatural world around us.  I guess I am just surprised at how two completely innocent, naive, adolescent girls could unknowingly call on the spirit world, thinking it was just a game, and actually get a powerful response.
            But the “light as a feather” thing wasn’t my only encounter with the spirit world.  Over the years, I have woken up with that feeling of a “heavy weight” on my chest, feeling like it’s squeezing the air out of me or paralyzing me.  While different people define it different ways, I believe that some of those times are not just bad dreams or “sleep paralysis,” but that they’re actually demonic attacks.  Or more accurately, demonic harassment.  (Once again, you don’t have to believe me.  But skeptics beware.  Right before the first of these attacks, I had scoffed at a fellow Christian who told me about his experience with this.  Yeah right! I thought.  This guy’s just being overly dramatic, a daydreamer, seeing a demon behind every bush.)
            In fact, I went through a stretch of five months of demonic harassment not too long ago.  We were starting to meet regularly with a Bible study group, and I had been getting really serious about living a more holy, godly, God-seeking life.  This was as I was going through my “furnace” time, several years of trials that broke me of my self-sufficiency so that the Lord could rebuild me in Him.  And these five months were a major part of refining me and growing me in the Lord.  They were the most vivid encounters I have ever had with the spirit realm, not counting the “light as a feather” time.  Here is a shorter version of what happened.  (The longer one is at in the “Chapter 22: In Jesus’ Name” post in the “Child of Mine” section.)
            I had just finished watching a National Geographic program on the Codex Gigas (aka “the Devil’s Bible”).  It wasn’t a “demonic” program, not sensational or anything like that.  It was just a look at an old book and who might have written it.  I actually watched it because I wanted to be able to scoff at it, to criticize it.  (I don’t scoff much anymore.)
            Anyway, the joke was on me.  That night, I woke up to the sound of screaming in my ears.  Horrible, distant screaming, as though thousands of people were crying out in torturous pain at once.  I had never had that happen before.  (And we were out in the middle of Iowa where there is complete silence at night, not even the sound of a car going by.)  If I remember correctly, I called out the name of Jesus or said, “Jesus, help me,” and it stopped.  But that was just the beginning of months of nighttime harassment.
            Several times a week for the next five months, I was woken up with various different sensations.  At different times, I woke up hearing screaming, feeling something heavy on my chest, feeling paralyzed, or (the usual one) feeling like my body was being electrocuted by a bolt of lightning or a blast of electricity.  I would feel this electricity and it would paralyze my body and mouth, making it hard to call on the name of Jesus for a moment.  Many times, I could almost sense something in the room before I went to bed, a chill or a presence.  
            Later on, it began to feel more vivid and violent.  Once, in my “dream,” I could feel a snake-like demon wrap itself around my leg, which woke me up feeling electrocuted.  And another time, I was “dreaming” that a demon was in the room, hovering over me in a cloud of black smoke as I slept.  I could feel the intense hatred radiating from this being, as though he wanted to cause me serious harm, but was prevented from doing so.  And then, I saw these long, black arms reach out to grab me, and immediately I felt the electricity and woke up.  Other times, I could sense their presence as I slept, without really “seeing” anything.  And just as I began to realize that I needed to call on Jesus for help, I would feel the electricity and wake up and struggle to break through the paralysis and make my mouth move again so I could call on Jesus’ name. 
            There was one minor time when I heard “thunder” in my ears (that rumbly sound you get when you yawn really deep and long) after saying this in my dream, “You know the book that the guy wrote about his trip to heaven, I believe him.”  Immediately after saying that, the thunder sound came and woke me up. 
            I’ve heard strange loud noises just as I was falling asleep and crossing over from conscious to unconscious, like breaking glass or a cup of marbles being dropped onto a sheet of metal.  Weird noises that jolt you awake but would have no real explanation.  (My husband has recently experienced this, too.)
            I often have very disgusting, bizarre images that pop into my mind out of nowhere as I am falling asleep, grotesque images of severed heads, corpses, and really strange images I would never even think about imagining.  And they come one after the next, as I try to focus my thoughts back on the Lord.  I believe these are spiritual attacks, too, and not just “my own thoughts.” 
            And then there were a bunch of disturbing times when I woke up feeling like something was holding my mouth shut or sucking the air out of me or sucking my face up into a “vacuum.”  One time, I woke up feeling like something was choking me.  I actually was fully conscious, laying there and thinking, Could I be choking myself?  There’s one hand of mine, but where’s the other?  Is it my own hand choking me?  But it wasn’t; both of my hands were under my pillow.  And as I continued to nod off again, I would feel the grip getting tighter and tighter.  And then as I woke up again, it would loosen.  That only continued for a minute or so, until I was awake enough to call out Jesus’ name.  But it really bothered me to see how “physical” it was getting.                                
            While you may doubt it, I no longer think that most of those “dreams” about a demonic presence were actually dreams.  I know what a dream and a nightmare feel like.  And this felt nothing like that.  I never really jolt wide-awake with a nightmare.  Nightmares are usually scary things that I can’t seem to wake up from.  Or they simply play out for a little while, then go away, and then I don’t think of them again until I wake up.  But I do jolt wide-awake during these attacks, feeling electrocuted and usually just as I realize there is a demonic presence and I need to call on Jesus.  After really thinking them over, I have come to believe that they are more like visions – an awareness by my spirit of what is going on in the spirit realm around me, even as my physical body sleeps.  You don’t have to agree with me, but this makes the most sense for me as I consider how it happens and what is going on in my mind right before these attacks happen.
            At one point, near the end of the five months, I began to wonder how and where the “electricity” starts.  Does it start in one spot, like my knee, and spread?  Does it come on slow or fast?  Could it really just be a residual effect of a bad dream?  Well, one morning removed all doubt that it might just be a dream. 
            I was laying in bed in the morning, wide awake.  The sun was shining, it was peaceful, and I was just lounging when, out of the blue, I felt like I got hit by a bolt of lightning.  It was fast and hard and fierce, almost to the point of paralyzing me and making it hard to call on Jesus’ name, as it often was upon first waking up that way.  But the difference was that this is the first time it happened while I was fully awake.  So now I was absolutely sure that it couldn’t be just a lingering effect of a bad dream.  These really were spiritual attacks. 
            And the weirdest “attack” happened when I was waking up one Sunday morning.  (Almost every Saturday night to Sunday morning brought an attack, which was the first night that it happened, too.  Odd!)  I was lying in bed with my new baby next to me, and my husband was up getting ready for church in the bathroom.  As I laid there fully awake, I felt something creeping up the foot of the bed toward me.
            My oldest son (9 years old, at the time) loves to sneak up on us whenever he can, and it felt exactly as if he was trying to creep up our bed on his hands and knees.  I could feel the mattress go down with each hand or knee, and I could feel the edge of my blanket getting pulled under his weight.  And I popped my head up to catch him in the act, but . . . there was nothing there.  Hmmm, that’s odd!  I’m absolutely sure that I felt something. 
            I laid back down.  And a few seconds later, it happened again.  This time, I sat up quickly, and still I saw no one.  How could he duck and hide so fast?  I looked on the floor and around the bed to see if he was there and if he was just really good at hiding.  But, of course, he wasn’t there.  (And because we never could get our box-spring up the tiny staircase, our mattress was on the floor.  So there was nowhere to hide.)  
            I was baffled by this point.  And just then, my husband came into the room to get his clothes.  And through gritted teeth, I told him, “Something invisible is . . . creeping . . . up . . . the . . . bed!  I can feel it walking up the bed toward me.” 
            Not surprisingly, he cocked his eyebrows and looked at me with a skeptical, disturbed, you-must-be-crazy look (meant in the most loving way possible, I’m sure).  And he turned around and went back to the bathroom without saying a word.  (Can’t you just feel the love and support?)
            Now, why I didn’t get out of bed at this point or call out Jesus’ name is a mystery to me.  I guess I didn’t want to wake the baby yet, and I was still trying to figure out what was going on.  So I laid there a little longer.  And it started again.  But this time, I had heard the door creak open first and then felt the mattress move.  This time, it’s my oldest son for sure, I thought.  And he can’t hide now!  
            I waited until I felt the creeping get up to my knees so that he couldn’t easily jump off the bed, and then I flung my arms and legs around so that I could catch him in the act.  And, yep, that’s right - nothing was there.  It happened one or two more times before I fully believed that it wasn’t just a brilliant trick by one of my kids.  I think I just didn’t want to believe that things like this would happen in the day when I was fully awake.  (Oh, and my husband did tell me that he opened the door just a few moments before . . . when I heard the door creak.  So there was an actual reason for the creaking door.  Thank God!) 
            I didn’t feel it again after that, but I certainly wasn’t about to leave my baby up in the bed alone.  So I woke him up and took him with me to get ready for church.  And the rest of the day, I found myself singing the Ghostbusters theme song.  I tried to stop myself, I really did.  But I couldn’t, you know - with an invisible thing sneakin’ in my bed and all. 
            That was one of the most disturbing moments because I began to feel like not only were my nights unsafe, but now my days were, too.  And it really scared me.  Were “they” able to do other physical things, like push me down the stairs or smother me in my sleep?  Would they hurt my children?
            Eventually, these attacks became fewer and fewer, and nothing more dramatic or worse happened than what I have shared here.  But I have had moments like these again in the following years.  It seems that almost anytime I share my story of demonic harassment, I get an attack that night.  (Coincidence?) 
            The last one was right after I sent this story to a Christian radio program. 
            I wasn’t sure at first if I should share it with the host because it always feels weird to me to share this.  I have told very few people.  (Most people look at you like you are weird and don’t say anything.  Big surprise, huh?)  But in the end, I did email it in because I felt that the guest host had misinformed a caller who asked if the “heavy weight sensation” could be a demonic attack.  He told her not to look for a demon behind every bush, that not every weird thing is a demonic attack.  Which is true, of course.  But I felt like he had not given her the help and advice she needed in this situation.  She needed to be encouraged and to be instructed to call on Jesus’ name for help.  He left her vulnerable to further attacks, without having any tool to fight it. 
            So I sent my story, in the hopes that they could pass it on to her.  And that very night, I woke up with another paralyzing, electrifying, air-sucked-out-of-my-lungs-as-my-mouth-was-sealed-shut feeling.  It was the first time it happened in months.  And my first response, after calling out “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave,” was to think, Good.  Now I know that I did the right thing.  It made them mad and stirred them up.  And I rolled over and fell back asleep.
            If there is anything that I have learned from all of this it’s that I am so thankful that God allowed this time of demonic disturbance.  Because this, out of all the trials I have been through and lessons I have learned over the years, is probably what most strengthened my faith in Him, my dependence on Him, and my resolve to stay close to Him.  And that’s why I feel it’s important to share it with others. 
            I can remember one moment in particular that was a turning point for me, that turned me from fear to courage.  I was lying in bed one morning imagining what the spirit world was like.  I was daydreaming about what it would be like to actually see a demon with my physical eyes.  I didn’t want to see one, I was just thinking about what it would be like.  Like what would happen if I looked over by my bedroom door and saw one standing right there?
            In my imaginary scenario, I imagined myself saying something like this to the demon, “Okay, you just stay over there and I’ll stay over here, and it’ll be fine that way.”  And it was then that it dawned on me that the spiritual world is really all around us, all the time.  Yes, I knew that, I just never really lived like it.  These demons and angels have always been there.  And just because I was physically experiencing their presence didn’t mean that anything was really all that different.  And if I didn’t have to be scared before this then I really didn’t have to be scared now, just because I was “sensing” them in a new way.
            At that moment, I honestly felt all the fear and anxiety drain out of me.  I wasn’t experiencing anything “new.”  It’s a battle that we have always been in the midst of.  And it’s a battle we’ve always been a part of.  I just didn’t take it seriously until now.  And this is when I realized the seriousness of the spiritual battle that we are supposed to be fighting.  And I was convicted about how lax I had been in that area.
            And suddenly, it wasn’t about running away or cowering in fear anymore.  It was about training for battle.  It was about putting on my spiritual armor and living more righteously so that I could be effective in that battle.  It was about seeking to live a more holy and God-glorifying life so that I didn’t give any “open doors” or “welcome mats” to fallen angels, such as watching shows about the “Devil’s Bible.” 
            It was about the power of the Holy Spirit living in me and about making sure that I lived in such a way to be in line with the Spirit.  It was about immersing myself in the Word and in prayer so that I was as close to God as I could be.  And it was about Jesus and the protection that He gives and the power of His name.  (In fact, I half wanted to yell out to the demons in the darkness, “See what you’ve done!  You’ve actually driven me closer to God and made me try to live more righteously.  Are you happy with yourselves!?!”)
            During this time, I had to train myself to always have the name of Jesus on my tongue the moment that I woke up.  I would go to bed in prayer, asking for protection and for strength, and rehearsing this one line over and over:  “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave!  In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave!”  I came to learn that Jesus’ name was my strongest weapon against evil. 
            And I practiced keeping it in that order, too, instead of “I command you to leave, in Jesus’ name.”  Because I was afraid that I might be too sleepy to say it all right away, and I might accidentally end up just saying, “I command you to leave . . . zzzzzzzzzz.”  So I made sure to at least get Jesus’ name out first.  Because I have no power in myself to command any demon to leave.  It’s all because of Jesus’ name and power and authority.  (Which is why I don’t know if unbelievers have any ability to use Jesus’ name against evil.  Because they don’t have the right to Jesus’ name if they are not under His authority.)
            I have read other people’s ideas of how to “battle” demonic harassment.  And some are amusing and some are disturbing, and many are way too dramatic and complicated.  I have read that we should get forceful and yell at them, that there are all kinds of rituals that we need to go through to get rid of them, and that we have the power to “order” Heavenly angels around and give them commands.
            In my experience, I don’t think this is the way it is.  The only power and authority and protection that we have is because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in us.  We were made a little lower than the angels, so I highly doubt that they are going to be threatened by any big show of our anger or aggression.  What can we possible do to them?  And rituals are just “extras,” they are ways to make us feel like we have some control or authority by what we do.  And thinking that we can control or command angels . . . well, that’s witchcraft. 
            The Bible, I believe, tells us all that we really need to know about how to battle demonic harassment.  Calling on Jesus’ name causes most to leave immediately.  Luke 10:17 says “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’“  And for the more stubborn demons: prayer, along with Jesus’ name!  Jesus refers to a kind of demon that can only be driven out by prayer in Mark 9:29.  That’s all I’ve seen in the Bible:  Jesus’ name and prayer!
            And of course, there is also a whole set of spiritual armor to put on in general, according to Ephesians 6: 10-18:  the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, a readiness to share the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit - which is the Word of God - and prayer.  But all of this needs to be in place all of the time anyway.  And, as Jesus tells us in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:13, we need to be praying that God “delivers us from the evil one.”  We need to pray that He protects us from Satan and his schemes . . . because prayer like this matter!  It’s not just wishful thinking.
            I never needed to make a big, dramatic show.  All I ever had to do was calmly say, sometimes even just whispering (when my husband was sleeping next to me and I didn’t want him to know that it happened again), “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.”  And they usually did immediately. 
            Sometimes, though, the electricity wouldn’t leave right away, and so I would pray in my mind, calling out for Jesus’ help in getting rid of it.  And then after repeating that command several times, it would subside.  But the point is, it always went away, never lasting longer than a minute or so, when I called on Jesus’ name. 
            Now, I could be wrong.  There could be cases of demonic activity that require much more than that.  But I pray that I never find out!  I mean, I am not a demon expert or anything.  (And I don’t want to be.)  But for now, prayer and Jesus’ name are all that I believe I need!  Just want you to know, though, that I don’t understand it all.  I’m just telling you what my experience has been.      
            I had learned to lean on and rely on Jesus in a way I never did before.  And once I found this strength in Jesus, these experiences seemed less like harassment and disturbances, and more like . . . well, disruptions.  Disruptions to a good night’s sleep. 

The Spiritual Battle
            “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4) 
            For a while, I had to repeat this to myself every time I went to bed.  I would being lying in bed, nervously scanning the room and the corners for any weird lights or shadows, listening for any odd creaking, and just repeating the phrase, “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  It really does help to fill your mind with Scripture.  Because that is the weapon that we have been given to battle the enemy.  The sword of the Spirit.  Jesus Himself gave us the example of using Scripture to battle Satan while He was being tempted in the desert.  Do we think we can do any better without a solid grounding in Scripture?  
            One thing’s for sure, this whole time period has taught me to take to take the spirit world seriously and to remember that there is an eternity out there waiting for us.  And what we do on this earth is not nearly as important as what we do in the spirit realm, for God’s kingdom.  It taught me that there is a spiritual battle going on around us all the time.  And I need to get involved with it, through prayer and seeking righteousness and drawing ever nearer to God through His Word and spending time with Him.  I need Him desperately because there is a battle going on around me – a battle for the souls of people – and I cannot be effective in it or protect myself from it apart from a complete, humble dependence on Him. 
            I believe that we can give demons access to us by how we live and act.  We invite them to come closer and influence us more when we give in to temptations, when we say things we shouldn’t, and when we fill our lives, homes, ears, eyes, and minds with things that are not God-glorifying.  And we have more power to keep them back when we live more righteously, and are more aligned with the Holy Spirit, and are relying on the power of Jesus’ name.
            Of course, I am not talking about demonic possession here, just about demonic harassment.  And I am talking about a solid believer in Christ who isn’t knowingly engaging in sin, not about someone who has “shaken hands with the devil” and drifted far from God’s ways. 
            The thing is, some people might be being harassed by evil because they have allowed evil to come too close.  When we put out “welcome mats” for them, we give demons the right to visit us.  Any time we turn away from God and toward Satan in any way, we remove ourselves from God’s full protection.  And demons will push open any door we willingly crack open for them.  And then a simple “I command you to leave in Jesus’ name” might not work.
            If you are being harassed and “I command you to leave in Jesus’ name” isn’t working, pray and ask God if you have given demons any “legal right” to be in your life, any “welcome mat” that invited them in.  Such things might be bringing “false god” things into your home, willingly engaging in sin, being unforgiving toward anyone, becoming overly prideful (the sin that caused Satan’s fall), having outbursts of anger, tinkering with temptation, drifting from God, listening to Satan’s lies instead of God’s truth, trying to live self-sufficiently instead of being dependent on God, engaging in “witch-crafty” kinds of things like palm-reading, fortune-telling, Ouija Boards, etc. 
            You need to get rid of the “welcome mats” first: confess known sin and ask for forgiveness, break any ties you’ve made with evil, renounce any lies you’ve allowed yourself to believe, clean out any “false god” things from your home, renounce and ask forgiveness for any times you have engaged in “witch-crafty” kinds of things, root out unforgiveness from your heart and fully forgive those who have hurt you, fall at the feet of Christ in humility, etc.  If demons no longer have a right to be there, they have to leave when you command them to leave in Jesus’ name. 
            I also think that the command to praise God and be thankful, even when we are in pain, is partly meant for our protection from evil.  Demons are attracted to, thrive on, and fuel anger, jealousy, fear, etc.  But I think that it will drive them back when they see us praising God and being thankful, no matter our circumstances.  During those five months, I kept the Christian radio on all the time, even quietly at night.  I don’t think of it like “magic,” but I do think demons are repelled by praise.
            Think of demons like the wizard of Oz, a giant scary projection in the air.  As long as we keep focused on the giant scary projection, we’ll remain terrified.  And fear feeds on itself.  But if we can take our focus off of the demons and put it on God and praise Him for everything we can praise Him for, the demons lose some of their power and are bothered by the praise we give God.  And if we can look past the giant scary projection and see that it is all just a “light and smoke show,” it takes the terror away. 
            They have power over you if you remain terrified of them, if you live in sin and cut yourself off from God’s protection, if you believe that they have more power over you than they do, if you fail to recognize when something is a spiritual attack, if you forget that you have the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ name on your side, and if you forget that prayer is your life-line and Scripture is your sword. 
            Of course, this isn’t to minimize the real damage that they can do in the world when they entice people to rebel against God, lie, cheat, steal, murder, rape, etc.  Demons do everything they can to hurt, kill, terrorize, and destroy.  But this is all the more reason to take the spirit world seriously and to learn to recognize spiritual attacks and to get into the spiritual battle.
            Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle.  But are we actively fighting in it, for God’s Kingdom and glory?  Or are have we dropped out armor, plopped down on the ground under a nice shade tree, and made ourselves more vulnerable to attack and being led astray?  Even if you are not experiencing anything like I did, we need to be in the battle by praying for our families, society, the leaders, the world, etc., and by seeking righteousness and remaining intimately connected to the Lord. 
            While demons wield a lot of power and influence over the world, when it comes to Christians they can only do so much to us because we have the Holy Spirit and spiritual armor.  And so, they usually try the “light and smoke show” to make us more afraid than we need to be, to make us cower in our beds instead of taking up our armor and fighting back.  While I wish that these attacks would never happened again, I have come to see them as a normal part of doing spiritual battle. 
            Something that helped me during those five months when I really wanted a break from the constant assault from the enemy was this verse: 
            Ephesians 6: 13:  “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.”
            As I read it one day, I was struck by one word: stand.  After we have done everything, we need to stand.  Oh, how I wanted to read “and after you have done everything, to sit and relax.”  But that’s not what we are told.  We are supposed to stand, even after fighting today’s battles.  We are supposed to stand and be ready for the next one, never dropping our armor and letting our guard down. 
            Once I realized that this is just the way it is – that constant assault is just part of the battle - I didn’t fight it so hard anymore.  I didn’t try to run.  I didn’t get overly upset about what was happening to me.  We are not supposed to be able to sit back and relax, not on this earth and not while we are in the midst of a spiritual battle.  So I just took up my armor and dealt with it as it came, knowing that I wasn’t fighting on my own.  I had the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on my side. 
            It was helpful and encouraging to realize that nothing odd was happening to me.  It’s just a part of a Christian’s life.  (And yet, other Christians think it is odd, which is strange because we are supposed to know that demons and angels are real.  They are not mythical.  And yet, many Christians live like they are.)  And I had to accept that these attacks were something that I would just have to deal with, along with all the other battles and trials that I was facing. 
            (In fact, if I do not have any attacks like these for a long time, I begin to wonder if I have gotten comfortable and lazy, if I have become distracted with life and am forgetting God’s Kingdom.  I think we all need to be living in such a way that we have great big targets – big bull’s eyes – on our backs.  When the demons see us get up in the morning, they should be saying, “Oh no!  Not them again!”) 
            Anyway, the reason I am sharing this very condensed story is because I want to challenge others to seriously think about the fact that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle all the time.  And yet how often are we aware of it?  Do we engage in that battle or do we focus on making a nice, comfy life on earth?  Do we take the commands to maintain our spiritual armor seriously?  Do we believe that our prayers really do have an effect on the spirit realm and that the way we live has an effect on our prayers and on God’s Kingdom?  Do we really believe that Jesus’ name has power?            
            It’s something we all need to think about seriously (without being overly interested in spirits).  And we all should be prepared for if and when the attacks come our way. 
            But, if I may point out, most attacks are not as vivid and obvious as what I went through.  Most are subtle and more “human” kinds of attacks, such as shame and anxiety, or temptations to dabble with sin, to envy, to gossip, to become jealous, to run after idols, to become bitter, to be prideful, etc.  And then there are the attacks like sleepless nights that wear us down, unfair treatment from someone else, addictions, accidents, thinking negative things about ourselves, hearing voices, unexplained health problems, evil thoughts that pop into your mind, etc.  Satan has many tools to distract us, wear us down, or cause us to fear and doubt and sin. 
            While these are less obvious as “demonic” attacks, they can be spiritual battles just as much as sensing demons at night in your room.  And they are probably much more effective at getting us away from God and righteousness, because they are so subtle.  They are much more damaging to our lives and our faith than the kind of attacks I went through. 
            The attacks I experienced drove me closer to God, because I knew that I needed Him to make it through those.  They were clearly spiritual.  But the more subtle, “earthly” attacks can sneak up on us before we know it.  And some of them can look so enticing (like a temptation to have an affair or get rich quick in an ungodly way or when we get filled with pride and develop an over-inflated sense of self-importance) that we don’t even recognize them as attacks, as part of a spiritual battle.  So we need to be even more on guard against those. 
            And of course, not everything that goes wrong is a demonic attack.  Sometimes it is just a part of living in a fallen world or a natural consequence of something.  But we need to be alert for if it is spiritual and to battle it as such.  We can’t fight spiritual battles with earthly weapons.

In Case of Attack
            If you are facing clearly spiritual attacks, try to think about what may be causing it.  It could be because you are seeking God more than ever or doing some great work for Him, because these things really provoke and anger the demons.  And if this is the case, then keep it up, and remember to keep your spiritual armor on, to use the Word as your sword, to remain in the Lord, and to pray and use Jesus’ name. 
            But if you are not growing in the Lord, it could be because . . .
            - you are in sin (or have un-confessed sin) and have grieved the Holy Spirit, shutting yourself off from His protection.  You put out a “welcome mat” to demons through things like not forgiving someone else, entertaining lustful thoughts or behaviors, bitterness, outbursts of rage, jealousy, an uncontrolled tongue, giving yourself over to anxiety, etc.  This gives them a “legal right” to harass you.  
            - you dabbled with or engaged in something ungodly, New Age, witchcraft-y, or from a false religion, such as horoscopes, voodoo, psychics, Ouija Board, yoga, certain martial arts programs, Freemasonry, Eastern healing treatments (check into the nature of things like acupuncture, spirit cleansings, meditation, etc.), ungodly movies, ungodly music, etc.  (I am not saying that all of these things will lead directly to demonic attacks, but they can be “welcome mats” for it.) 
            - you brought something into your house that is occultic, New Age, ungodly, witchcraft-y, or from a false religion, such as statutes of false gods, trinkets or jewelry with occultic symbols, certain antiques that are handed down which may have occultic roots or purposes, books or movies that celebrate witchcraft, humanism, false gods, etc.
            - other people attracted demons and you are just a bystander who was in the vicinity, such as being with people who visited a psychic even if you didn’t get a reading or letting a family member worship false gods in your home. 
            - someone else did something to you, such as abuse, coercing you into engaging in something ungodly, or even parents who divorced, etc.  These kinds of things can become gateways for demons to enter your life.  They can lead to intense negative thoughts and emotions which demons thrive on.  Even things like car accidents can open the door to intense fear and anxiety, which can attract demons.
            - ancestors welcomed and encouraged demons by things they engaged in, such as witchcraft, Freemasonry, etc. 
            - you have believed in lies from the enemy or embraced falsehoods, about yourself, God, life, others, etc.   

            Take the time to figure out (and pray about) why the attacks are coming or when they started.  Seek help from a pastor or godly friend.  And remember that demons have a “legal right” to harass you if you have opened the door to them through sin.  Pray about if you have opened the door to them.  Ask God to show you any “welcome mats” you’ve given them. 
            Confess sins that need to be confessed.  Renounce any sins from your family’s past and break any legal rights demons have to your family, such as through a history of witchcraft.  Use prayer and Jesus’ name, and claim His blood and protection.  (You can find more info about this on-line.  Just make sure it is not a site that sensationalizes demonic attacks or that gives a whole bunch of weird rituals to get rid of them.  Those kinds of things make it more about what we do and using our power than they do about Jesus’ name and the power of the Holy Spirit.) 
            Purge your home and life of things that celebrate false religions, evil, or the occult.  Ask the Holy Spirit to purify your mind.  Consider the music you listen to and movies you watch.  Do they celebrate evil and things that Satan enjoys?  Surround yourself with music that praises God.   
            Thank God for Jesus’ sacrificial death and pray that His blood covers and cleanses your home, your life, and your family’s past if they were involved in ungodly things.  (In fact, praise God a lot.  Praise repels demons.)  Pray daily that God sends His heavenly angels to protect you from evil.  And learn to call on Jesus’ name when the attacks come.  They have to leave when you call on Jesus’ name, maybe not immediately but they do leave quickly if you keep calling on His name and praying (as long as you have confessed and sought forgiveness for any sins that gave them an open door into your life). 
            And remember that Scripture is the “sword of the Spirit.”  Jesus quoted Scripture to resist the temptations of Satan and to defeat him.  And we would be wise to do the same.  Memorize verses that fit with the ways Satan harasses and tempts you, and say them out loud whenever you need to.        

            When your eyes are opened to the spiritual battle going on around us all the time, your life and faith will never be the same again.  And I can honestly say that those five months were some of the best things that ever happened to me and my faith.  I really do thank God for them.