Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Spiritual Warfare and Your Marriage

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of:  Frederick Shaw

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

~1 Peter 5:8

I want to issue a warning to you today and that is this: At this very moment, there is a spiritual war being waged against your marriage! Not merely your friend’s marriage or your neighbor’s marriage or your favorite celebrity’s marriage. No! Yours. And our time together here today is meant to serve as a wake up call for all of us to snap out of our complacency and lackadaisical tendencies and to start proactively working to strengthen and safeguard our marriages. Here’s why. 

A few years ago I remember sitting in my favorite local coffee shop with a wonderful group of ladies I had the blessing of meeting with every week for fellowship and Bible study. While there, one of the ladies mentioned how she had been talking recently with a missionary friend of hers living in Africa and that something she told her had been startling. This missionary friend informed her that there are actual groups of Satanists in Africa who regularly make it their mission to actively pray against marriages, their main prayer being that marriages would fail. Make no mistake, this is a big deal. Now, I realize that these Satanists are obviously not praying to the One true God and so these “prayers” can seem like little to no threat to us at all. But here’s the thing: we know that Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)”. In Job 1, we read that, prior to his attacks on Job, Satan tells the Lord that he had been “going to and fro on the earth” and “walking back and forth on it. (verse 7)” 2 Corinthians 4:4 refers to Satan as “the god of this age” or “the god of this world” and says that he is regularly about the business of blinding people to truth. Ephesians 6:11-13 admonishes us to, 

“11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Though we often act as if this were not the case, we are in a raging spiritual battle every single day. We are living complacent lives in the face of demonic attack and this must not be so if we are to stand firm and be strong in the Lord. 

All too often we as Christians, when it comes to our marriages, entertain the idea that nothing bad could ever happen to the bond between us and our husbands. “I would never have an affair.”  “He would never become addicted to pornography.”  “It’s no big deal if I become Facebook friends with that old flame from high school.”  Do any of these sound familiar? While yes, it is important to trust our spouses and to think good thoughts of them, we need to not make the mistake of becoming naive to the attacks of Satan or to the realization that, though saved and changed, Christians are still capable of committing the most awful of sins. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Likewise, Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

 These verses aren’t meant to make us feel hopeless and as if our marriages are doomed to go through awful seasons of sin and heartbreak. Instead, they are to serve as wake up calls to cause us to be diligent to help ward off such issues. Because, sadly, it is crystal clear in American culture today just how weak even Christian marriages are. The divorce rate among professing Christians is equal to that of the world. Several well-known Christians and Christian leaders have recently had the spotlight shown on their hidden sins and the reality of the brokenness of their marriages. I personally know of a Christian couple right now going through a horribly rough time as an affair has taken place and there is a lot of brokenness right now. Understanding the reality of our own sin natures and sinful tendencies, combined with the realization that not only is Satan on the prowl, but his followers are begging him to attack us, I think it time we wake up from our day-to-day going through the motions and our willingness to settle for lukewarm marriages and instead actively recapture the romance, intimacy, and strength our marriages were meant to have. 

Because what is at stake is far more than merely our marriages or our families (as important as they are!). The Satanists regularly praying for your marriage and my marriage to fail aren’t doing so merely because they dislike us or like to see families broken apart. No, they are doing so because they are grasping on a far deeper level than we do something we oftentimes fail to understand: marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33) and so if you can attack the covenant and institution of marriage, then you can malign the picture of Christ and His bride and so tarnish the church’s witness to the world. That is truly what is at stake here. It’s a big deal! It’s a soul-affecting issue! It’s spiritual life and death. 

What are We to Do?

Ok, so we realize that Satan is on the prowl. We realize that his followers are working overtime to call down his forces upon our marriages. We realize our own sinful natures and the tendencies we have to do things which would weaken our marriages in one way or another. So, in light of all this, what are we to do? How do we seek to safeguard our marriages and to strengthen them against the Devil’s attacks? Here are some important first steps for us all to take: 

  • Be sober and vigilant. The full passage of 1 Peter 5:8 referenced above reads like this, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Part of the meaning tied up in the Greek word translated “be sober” is to “be circumspect, to watch”. The Greek word translated “be vigilant” means “to watch, to give strict attention to, to be cautious, active; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one; to keep awake”  This is the complete opposite of the way most of us are about our marriages. We oftentimes tend to simply let busyness overtake us, to allow one day to flow into the next, and before you know it, there are little weeds of bitterness or frustration in our hearts or a lack of love and attention beginning to become commonplace. This is dangerous territory. We must “Keep [our] heart[s] with all diligence, for out of [them] spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)” Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.”, the foxes being a metaphor for anything that would seek to come in and ruin our marriage relationships. Some practical questions to ask ourselves in this area would be: 

-Am I allowing any little foxes of bitterness, anger, frustration, disrespect, dishonor, or disdain for my spouse into my heart? Am I rehashing over and over in my mind little things that have been done to me by my spouse?

-Is there a member of the opposite sex that I find myself thinking about or would even rather spend time with than my own spouse? 

-Am I engaging in any friendships online with a member of the opposite sex which are drawing my time, emotions, heart, mind, and attention away from my spouse?

-Is there a member of the opposite sex whom I find more interesting or more caring or more engaging or more endearing or more attractive than my spouse?

-Am I eagerly anticipating my spouse’s arrival home from work each day or is it no big deal to me anymore?

-Do I look forward to showing my spouse love in a physical way or am I turned off by the thought?

-While, granted, life happens and the butterfly honeymoon feelings do not always remain the same, nevertheless am I finding myself to be any less in love with my spouse than I was the day we got married?

-What daily practices am I engaging in (i.e. browsing social media, binge-watching tv, playing video games, talking on the phone, meeting up with friends, etc.) that are taking me away from my spouse and stealing my time from engaging in my marriage when my spouse is at home?


  • Be in prayer! Let’s not allow the Satanists in Africa to be better prayer warriors than we are! Daily pray for your marriage and for your spouse. We can’t make the mistake of being lackadaisical in our marriages and expect our marriages to be wonderful, strong, fulfilling, and shining radiant lights to the watching world. We have to remember that we are to “pray for one another, that [we] may be healed”, for “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)” The Holy Spirit moves and works in hearts through prayer. If you need more inspiration and encouragement in this area, check out the fantastic movie War Room and the book Fervent: A Woman’s Guide to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer.
  • Invest your time and attention into your marriage! This is so, so important. Unless we arintentionally focusing on our spouses and investing in our marriages, we will only begin to drift apart, not closer together. Some practical, everyday ways to do this would be:

-Date your spouse. Yes, I know, children can make this difficult if we let them. But we can’t make our parenting duties an excuse for letting our marriages fall by the wayside or become stale. Now, there are seasons of life. Seasons when you may have lots of littles running around and seasons when your kids are all teenagers. These seasons do impact what our date nights will look like and how frequent they can be. And that’s ok. The point is not that we have to have weekly date nights away from the house and kids or else. The point is that we simply be intentional about connecting with our spouses deeply on a regular basis. Be that a weekly or monthly date night out, be that a date night in at home on a regular basis after the kids are in bed, be that a quarterly overnight get-away somewhere, etc. Whatever you can do, do it. Brainstorm with your husband ways you can connect intimately on a regular basis.

-Read marriage books together with your spouse. It’s a great way to be on the same page (no pun intended ;) ), to learn and grow, and to discuss together things the Lord is teaching you and ways you can grow in your marriage. 

-Text throughout the day. This is a really fun, simple, quick, easy way to connect and keep the home fires burning and the bond between you close even when you may be apart. 

-Become a student of your own unique husband and put into practice little practical habits which show him he’s important to you.


  • Put on the whole armor of God! We briefly touched on this above, but it bears repeating and expanding. In full, the passage in Ephesians 6 about the armor of God reads as follows: 

~Ephesians 6:10-18~ 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”

On your own time, I encourage you to sit down with this passage and a notebook and brainstorm ways in which you can put this passage’s teachings into practice in your own marriage. How can you take truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer and supplication and use them all to make your marriage stronger and more impactful? What are some practical applications you can make yourself in your unique marriage, in your unique season of life, with your own unique personality and the unique personality of your spouse? For more on this, check out Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God.


Some Encouragement for Those in Dark Places in their Marriages

As I mentioned above, I personally know folks going through a very dark time in their marriage right now and I would be remiss if I were to end our time together today merely talking about how to safeguard our marriages against the attacks of Satan instead of ending it also offering hope for those who may already be under direct and serious attack. If your marriage is currently under siege, if there is great sin and heartbreak existing in your marriage right now and you don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, look up. Take heart and look to Jesus. Take comfort, sweet friend, in the following passages: 

~Psalm 121~ “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”

~Genesis 50:19-20~ “19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

~Romans 8:28~ “28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

~Matthew 19:26~ “26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

~Job 42:10-17~ “10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. 12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.”

~Joel 2:25a~ “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,”

The enemy and his attacks do not have the last word! Your marriage may seemingly be in shambles at this moment, but the Lord can redeem and restore anything, making it even stronger than it was before the attack or hardship! He can take your marriage, pick up the broken pieces, bind them back together more whole and more strong than ever before (just think of what He does with broken bones and how the area of the break becomes stronger than any other area of the rest of the bone!), and present them as an amazing testimony to the watching world of His love, majesty, and greatness! Look to Him with anticipation for what He can do and how He can work through your life. And, in so doing, encourage others in their marriages, as well. 

Reflection Questions:

1) How does it make you feel to realize there is active warfare being waged against your marriage? What is the Lord leading you to do about it?

2) What is a practical step forward you can take today to strengthen your marriage?

3) How can you encourage someone else to do the same?

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