Once upon a time, we thought we knew about spiritual warfare. We thought we knew what it was to do real battle with the enemy, with the forces of darkness.
Then, we entered the War Room...and I don't mean a closet.
Please don't misunderstand me, I LOVE the War Room movie, and it is absolutely critical that we, as Christians, do battle against the enemy in our homes, in the private places...alone and removed.
But this was something else entirely.
Each Weekend to Remember® is bathed in prayer; did you know that? Months ahead of time the prayer team starts meeting to pray over those who will be in attendance, asking for God's will and protection.
As the time before the event gets shorter, the prayer team meets more, sometimes in person, sometimes via conference call. They start praying for individuals in attendance by name, asking for protection, provision, childcare arrangements, safety, softened hearts...you name it.
Not only do we pray for the attendees and their families, we pray for the speakers, the hotel employees, and the people we'll all come into contact throughout the city.
Bathed in prayer.
Even though we experienced prayer with the team leading up to the weekend, Josiah and I were a little nervous. We didn't really know what to expect, how things were going to work, or honestly, how the heck we were gonna pray for hours on end.
It was intimidating.
But we plunged in Friday night and began praying for couples as they arrived and got settled into the first two sessions.
That night was great! We were inspired by some of the seasoned prayer warriors who dove into battle with conviction and authority. We learned. We prayed. We went home energized and looking forward to the next day.
But nothing would prepare us for it.
Saturday started much like Friday, but then, mid-morning, it was time to pray over the presentation of the gospel.
FamilyLife® knows what every marriage needs in order to really thrive is two people who love Jesus and follow His commands. Therefore, each marriage event includes a presentation of the gospel: the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who was without sin, but died for the sin of the world.
Wives and husbands, daily, need to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus, to crucify selfish desires, and put on his cloak of righteousness that brings humility and hope. That's how marriages go beyond mere survival.
Sometimes, throughout the weekend, people on the volunteer team will be assigned to other duties or people will step out to stretch their legs, use the restroom, or just take a break.
But not during the gospel session. Everyone is in the prayer room during that session.
And it was one of the most powerful things we've ever experienced...an hour of our lives we'll never forget.
The whole room took turns powerfully and passionately interceding on behalf of every person in the ballroom. We declared scripture over lives, families, SOULS.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the authorities,
against the world powers of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
And let me tell you something: when you're in a spiritual battle, demanding that strongholds be broken, shackles removed, and walls come tumbling down, it is not without resistance.
There were times when we could feel the darkness pressing in trying to take hold of the moment, and distract us. But in those moments, the group would press in, shining ever brighter.
Even now, thinking about it, my hair stands on end.
Later in the day, another miracle would happen, a glorious answer to some of our prayers (but that's tomorrow's blog post).
We left on Saturday drained, having poured ourselves out in prayer. We went out to dinner, stealing just a little bit of time for ourselves to feed our own marriage.
But we noticed something very interesting at dinner: we were no longer part of this world.
I know I sound like a nut...hang with me.
Have you ever seen The Lord of the Rings? I'm a LotR/Hobbit fanatic, so immediately I recognized the scene we were faced with.
At the end of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, after the ring is destroyed, there's a scene back at the Green Dragon pub in Hobbiton. The four friends who have just returned home from battle sit in the pub, rowdy revelry all around, but there they sit...staring at one another. (There's a clip of it at the end of this post).
Everyone else continues on with life as it's always been, not even aware than a war has gone on, but those four comrades in arms are forever changed.
And that was our experience.
People laughed and talked around us. Servers flew around tables and busboys cleared dishes and prepared for the next guests. Families ate. Children played.
And there we sat, staring at one another: soldiers, weary from battle, but exhilarated by victory. And all around us people went on with life, completely oblivious to the fact that war was being waged.
I told Josiah I had never felt more not of this world than I did in those moments. It was tiring, but so worth it, and I remember almost being scared that life would go back to normal...that I would lose that feeling.
I was also sad.
I've loved Jesus for as long as I can remember and was baptized at 14. I've been a professing Christian my entire life...and now, at almost 38, I'm really feeling what it really means to be not of this world for the first time.
And it occurred to me that there are many, many Christians, particularly here in the western world, where religion is easy and God's word so readily accessible, who will go from cradle to grave never having really engaged in the battle.
My heart is so heavy.
Because let me tell you, having been in the battle does not make me a "better" Christian. It doesn't make me less sinful or selfish at heart, but it does draw me closer to God. So while I may not be a better Christian, I am a stronger Christian for having done battle with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
In all honesty, I can't wait until next year's event and the prayer times leading up to it. I look forward to doing battle with my brothers and sisters, powerfully proclaiming victory together, knowing the power comes not from us, but from the Creator of the universe, our Almighty God.
Until then, in the moments in between, I'll be here preparing for battle, engaging in some personal skirmishes, and keeping my armor in working order.
And if you ever need a sister warrior to go into battle with you, to wage war against the darkness, I'm here and I'm ready.
Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request,
and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
P.S. If you are interested in attending a Weekend to Remember® OR you'd like to consider partnering with us to help strengthen marriages, please comment or contact us!!