This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?
Ready for the fifth strategy the enemy uses? It’s your past. We all have one, and the enemy loves to let it affect our present and future. You might have heard the quote, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Unfortunately, it’s true. But there’s another one that’s good too, “Free people, free people.” We can be free from our past so that we can live the abundant life that God has intented for us to live… and while we do that we will be doing kingdom-work to help free others from their pasts so they can do the same. What a beautiful thought and vision for us! I feel like the hashtag #goals would be appropriate here, something we can all work towards… being kingdom-minded.
If I were your enemy, I’d constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices. I’d want to keep you burdened by shame and guilt, in hopes that you’ll feel incapacitated by your many failings and see no point in even trying again. I’d work to convince you that you’ve had your chance and blown it – that your God may be able to forgive some people for some things, but not you… not for this.
Your Past – Ending the Reign of Guilt, Shame, and Regret
It’s awful. And it’s personal.
A personal, unwelcome, unwarranted attack.
Using your forgiven past to poke holes in your future. That’s exactly what the enemy does. He absolutely loves living in the past. In your past. In my past. Any why not? Some of his best opportunities to sabatage our potention comes from there.
He carefully archives footage from our history so he can pull from those files and remind us what our days of defeat, sin, and failure looked like. You’ve seen them, as have I, a million times. If your life is anything like mine, I’d imagine he’s turned every room in the house into a screening room at one time or another, popping one of his old favorites into the player – for his amusement, for our humiliating shame and embarrassment.
It’s a painful thing to watch. Even in reruns. Especially in reruns… because every time he cues it up again, it’s with the fresh intent of mocking us, making us feel as unforgiven and unforgiveable as possible, and then even pointing the finger at all the other people who are more to blame, more at fault, than we should even consider ourselves to be. If he can’t make us feel judged, he’ll try turning us into judgers. So it’s quite a show he puts on. And quite depressing. Mostly because, as he loves reminding us, we’re the ones who’ve given him so much material to work with.
Under more constructive circumstances we might actually be able to learn from it – see another option we could’ve taken to avoid ultimately what happened, in order to not be so rash or gullible next time. We might be able to teach from it – help steer others who might one day face the same set of choices (our children, for example) toward and alternate ending that’s likely to result in something more favorable for them. But in the hands of the enemy, it’s always a horror film – run from it, hide from it – keep living and reliving it, over and over again. With no resolution, just a persistent dread and heartache. Always at risk of having it jump up and scare us, just when we thought God had finally settled it for good.
And that’s how, instead of living with assurance, we become bombarded with shame. Instead of celebrating God’s grace, we feel undercut by continual guilt over the same old things. Instead of experiencing the ongoing, residual blessings of being regenerated by His Spirit – all things new – we’re caught in the spin cycle of ceaseless regrets.
But prayer – fervent, strategic prayer – can change things. Even unchangeable things. Even things as unchangeable as real-life scenes from your past – what you did, what you didn’t do, why you did it, why you didn’t. No, prayer doesn’t wipe them all away, doesn’t pretend they never happened. And, no, it doesn’t remove every natural, logical consequence from playing itself out. But just as God says to the ocean waves, “Thus far you shall come, but no farther” (Job 38:11), He has given us prayer to raise up above the sea level of Satan’s assaults from our past.
Cue the hallelujahs and thanks to God for this. Thank you for your grace and your mercy that you have for us, God. Thank you for helping us to rise above these things in our pasts and go to higher levels where you are taking us.
All things… new. Let’s leave the past in the past. The past doesn’t have permission to touch you anymore, if you don’t give it. Let’s go to new places of freedom and fullness.
The enemy’s accusations against us come with a statute of limitations. He can rant and threaten and how-day-you all he wants, but here’s why you can plug your ears and ignore his accusations, and sing God’s praise while you walk away with real pardon in your heart.
God doesn’t live in the past. Because – God – your God exists outside of time. To Him, the past that so haunts and hamstrings you, the past that so ruffles and frustrates you, is not in the past at all. In prayer, you are alone with God who sees you only as you are and have always been since that beautiful moment when you placed your faith in Him – holy, righteous, and blameless; past, present, and future. He forgives your guilt, removes your shame, and declares His work an established, all-the-time fact. Prayer does a complete end run around Satan’s pitiful accusations, ushering us into an eternal realm with God where “the past” doesn’t even compute.
We only live by grace anyway. All that stuff Satan tries hanging over our head – those forgiven failings of ours are no longer reasons for shame but are not monuments to the totally amazing grace of God. I mean just look at what He is able to forgive. Even this. Even that. Yes, devil, even THAT! Isn’t God incredible? That He could forgive even that?!
The glory our God receives and will eternally receive, from having saved our souls doesn’t come from all the good things we do for Him. His glory comes from creating people of purity and spiritual passion who once did things like that. Like we’ve done. Like you’ve done. Like I’ve done.
So talk it up, devil. Because as high as you choose to ratchet it up, you’re only showing off “the breadth and length and height and depth” (Eph. 3:18) of the love of Christ extending toward me!
One of the qualities that makes the gospel so real and so great is that it doesn’t eliminate our past but just so thouroughly deals with it. God forgives it. He changes it. He transforms all that mess into this huge mountain of grace that only takes us higher and closer to Him. So now, instead of being a reason for endless shame, guilt, and regret, our past is a reason for endless worship and free-flowing testimony.
And for continual, grateful, heartfelt prayer.
We’re all on a journey here. We’re not perfect. We all struggle. We can tell from the fatique we feel and the stiffness in our spiritual joints that we haven’t always taken good care of ourselves. But prayer wakes us up with new mercies from God that are “new every morning” (Lam. 3:23). Prayer is how we start to stretch and feel limber again, feel loose, ready to take on the world. And when we start applying prayer to particulat muscles groups – like our confidence in Christ and His victory over our past – our whole body and our whole being start to percolate with fresh energy, with the blood-pumping results of applied faith.
So as you being crafting a strategy for crushing Satan’s backdoor assault on your daily freedom and joy, think on this helpful guide you can use…
- Praise: Thank Him for completely forgiving you, cleansing your, changing you.
- Repentance: See the foolishness of anything that perpetuates old sin patterns, and by His Spirit walk away.
- Asking: Ask for freedom, for release, for the abilitiy to deflect lies and embrace truth.
- Yes: Because you, by His resurrection power, can now walk in a new way of life.Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the powers of the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that we were saved! Ephesians 2:1-5
Thus says the Lord… Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19
Sing praise to the Lord, all His godly ones, And give thanks to His Holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31
He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
The past, for all its attempts at confining and condemning us, possesses limits that our enemy doesn’t want us to know about. Well, now we do. And so here we go. We’re moving on. And he can just sit back there in the dark and watch all those home movies of his, all by himself. Because our real life in Christ is just a lot more exciting.
Here’s to freedom… yours and mine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I am praying for you, as my readers, as you go through this series with me. I’d love to hear how God is using it in your life to being freedom and spiritual growth. Feel free to leave a comment or email me your story so that I can praise and champion God along with you for what He’s done.