Instruction in the Night

I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed my mind instructs me in the night. Psalm 16:7

Far too lately have I become convinced that spending time with God is the most practical solution to my daily problems.   I am learning that He is far more interested in our lives than we dare to hope, and vastly more knowledgeable. The roots of my anxieties usually do not lie where I think they do, and my solutions are rarely as effective as I imagine.  But I am learning that if I am patient, the Father has a plan. He can instruct me even in my sleep.

A couple of weeks ago I had an unusual dream. It was an instructional video of sorts on the methods of a particular demon.  In the dream I saw a man walking down a street.  There was a demon, like a shadow, hovering over and behind him.  Every move the man made the demon would mimic. If the man moved his arm, the demon’s arm moved right behind his. If he kicked a can, the demon’s leg was right behind his.

The man was unaware of the demon, though he certainly felt its presence.  He experienced the demon as stress or anxiety – a sense that he could never get a break.  And this was the demon’s tactic.  It stuck to the man like a tar baby until he reached a boiling point of pent up stress and anger.

At this point in the dream another man came on the scene.  He was a friend, a Christian brother.   The subject of my dream did not see his brother approaching, but the demon did, and just as the friend came in range, the demon struck his man hard on the side of the approaching friend.  The man jerked around to see what had hit him and saw his brother. All the pent up anger in the man exploded on the unsuspecting brother.   Of course, the brother was offended and struck back.  The fire grew and the demon smiled.  Mission accomplished.

Interesting.  As Thomas and I have engaged in the work of reconciliation, we have discovered that the majority of stumbling blocks which divide individual Christians are personal rather than doctrinal. This is not to make light of doctrinal issues.  Theological dialogue has an important place in the work of reconciliation.  However, the most painful divisions we experience are often within our own churches and families. Recognizing the demonic forces behind these would be helpful, I thought.

But as it happened, this was not the end of the lesson, nor the main point of the Father’s instruction.  The following night I lay down prostrate to pray before bed.  I have been praying this way morning and night for over a year now, and it has become a place of great joy and stability for my soul.  My only intention in these prayers is to worship God, to bring Him thanks and praise at the beginning and end of each day.  But sometimes the prayers continue and wander into intercession, or conversation. On this particular night, the Holy Spirit led me in an unexpected direction.  I saw a replay of the dream with the demon, then I saw myself in a vision, lying prostrate in prayer.  I understood that while the demon could mimic every other position a man might take, it could not lie prostrate in worship of the Father.  At that point it had to lift.  Furthermore, when the demon lifted, so did the stress or anxiety it caused.  And because the demon worked slowly, building stress to a boiling point, its effectiveness was severely limited by frequent worship in this prostrate position.

Then best of all, I felt the blessing of my Father. I understood that He was showing me a dynamic already at work in my soul, the fruit of this past year of prayer. I realized that though I have had several trials and challenges, and some points of failure in the past year, I have not felt chronically stressed or anxious. This is a change, and a gift, and a strong motivation to prostrate myself in worship all the more often.  Our God is good, and holy and gracious, and a very wise counselor!