I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. Anna was working her way to a colossal mess at the dinner table, Linus and Gwen were gumming each other’s toes in the pack and play, and Max and I were unloading the dishwasher. Max casually said, “I’m not upset or anything, but I want to talk through the other night so I can understand a few things.”
He was referring to just before bed earlier in the week, when Anna said she wanted to talk to Daddy God, which is how I refer to God when I pray. She then proceeded to chat with God for long moments before she turned to me and asked if I wanted to talk to him. Heart pounding, I quietly thanked God for a few things and wrapped up my prayer. Then she turned to Max and asked, “Do you want to talk to Daddy God?” He replied, “I don’t talk to him.”
It wasn’t a bad response when I think about what he could have said. Silverware clanked as he asked if she was learning that at church or if it was from me. I told him I was the culprit. He iterated why he detests Anna saying Daddy God and said it makes him feel like some sort of earthly stepfather to a not-good guy who doesn’t exist in the first place.
I responded, “I am doing as I promised. I preface everything I tell her about God by saying ‘I believe this to be true.’ You are not doing the same.”
A few months back I’d overheard Anna tell Max that Daddy God made her. My stomach had instantly begun to churn. These were words I’d whispered to her before she drifted to sleep, words I’d prefaced with “I believe.” Max’s response to Anna had been swift. “No he didn’t. Mommy and Daddy made you.” Instant irritation had made my face feel hot. I had done my best to respect his wishes and he had trampled all over mine.
But that scene was a bad example to use with Max considering we were the ones who “made” Anna from a scientific perspective. Because I failed to make a logical point, it went downhill from there. Max said he doesn’t need to preface anything he believes to be true because it’s all scientific theory, which by definition is based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. He went on to point out that my “relationship” with God is purely my emotions running rampant. Goodnight nurse—I had nothing. My pea brain sputtered so loudly I couldn’t process anything else he said.
The old Mae would have listened to Max and done one of two things: 1. Get defensive and make a nonsensical response that would have fast-tracked our afternoon to hell, or 2. Become terrified and get lost in the lonely abyss that is my current situation. Instead I asked the Holy Spirit for help on every level. I listened to Max as best I could and conceded his valid points. I offered no apology but did reaffirm my promise to preface my belief when I speak with Anna about God. And while I loathed every minute of being forced to engage in it, our conversation taught me a very important lesson.
I must always be ready.
A war has been raging since the dawn of humanity and I finally noticed I’m in the thick of it. If I won’t learn the discipline of a prayer warrior and actually engage in battle, those I love will die. I must make time to be trained by the Holy Spirit and then use every other precious moment my mind is not otherwise engaged to pray in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication.
I did not wish to become a prayer warrior. I despise words or ideas that have been bastardized by over or misuse, which is why to me, prayer often seems like the churchy tactic of last resort. But I can’t argue with James 5:16-18. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
I do not have the luxury of being married to an agnostic who doesn’t really care what our children believe about God. Max is actively hostile toward my beliefs and will aggressively counter whatever I say to our brood with his perspective. I must expect this. I cannot afford to be caught off guard. It is imperative I wake up seeking to be filled to the point of overflowing with the Holy Spirit. It is essential I allow the Spirit’s conviction which leads to repentance. I must ask the Spirit to clothe me in nothing less than grace, wisdom, boldness, courage, humility, and discernment in order to take up the full armor of God so I can stand firm against the enemy—which, by the way, is not Max.
It goes against every instinct I have, but it is only as I sink my knees to the soul-stained earth that God trains me to become a warrior. I am not left unprotected. I feel the earth tremble beneath me at the roar of my Protector just before metal meets metal and the death blow meant for me is thwarted.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:12-18