Luke 12: 11-12 (New International Version)
“‘When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.'”
One of my favorite times of the morning is the drive to school with my daughters. After we pray together, we listen to upbeat gospel music and sing our hearts out to God. My favorite artist to play for my children (and myself) is Fred Hammond, because his lyrics are almost always directly lifted right out of scripture. No matter what kind of start the morning has had, singing praise and worship together makes it even better. By the time the girls get to school, whatever problems they have had with each other or with Mommy have been washed away in a torrent of praise.
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One morning as we were singing “Let The Praise Begin,” my youngest, who is four years old, stopped us all cold with a question. Over the din of music and voices raised in enthusiastic song, Kit shouted, “How do you utterly destroy the enemy’s chains when the praises ring?” If you are familiar with the song, you may understand the built in reference. For those of you who may be less familiar, in this particular song Fred Hammond proclaims the power of praise. The line to which my daughter was referring, the line of the song we had just sung, reads, “For the chains that come from the enemy are utterly destroyed when the praises ring. Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus. He’s exalted forever. Let the praise begin.”
In an instant I found myself with minutes to go before pulling into the school parking lot, charged with explaining to a four-year-old the potentially complex concept of spiritual warfare. All of my biblical teaching on the identity of the devil, the effectiveness of praise, the battlefield of the mind, went right out the window. I drew a total blank.
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I do not believe in postponing answers to honest questions, especially those posed by children. When people ask questions of a spiritual nature, I have come to recognize that the Holy Spirit is at work. I never want to miss an opportunity to share God’s truth. Spiritual warfare, however, can be a frightening concept – especially if improperly explained. As I struggled to come up with something truthful, but not so scary as to frighten my daughter, it came to me. Rather, the Holy Spirit gave the words to me.
Kit is a huge fan of “Dora The Explorer” and is familiar with all of the show’s characters. For those of you who don’t watch the show as regularly as I do, Dora is the protagonist of every episode. Her sidekick and best friend is a talking monkey, named Boots. Every episode begins with Dora and Boots undertaking a quest, which requires the aid of a map and items Dora may have in her backpack, or that she and Boots must find on the way. Swiper, the fox, is the antagonist, who perpetually tails Dora and Boots, attempting to retard their progress by stealing the very items they need in order to complete their quest successfully.
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Fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, I said to my daughter, “You know how Swiper is always trying to steal stuff from Dora and Boots?” She nodded that she did. “Well,” I continued, “the devil is just like Swiper. He’s always trying to steal from us the good stuff God wants us to have. When Dora and Boots want to stop Swiper they stand up and shout at him ‘Swiper! No swiping! Swiper! No swiping! Swiper! No swiping!’ right?” Again she nodded, this time even more enthusiastically.
I went on to explain to her that when we sing praises to God, it’s like telling the devil “Swiper! No swiping!,” and that the devil responds the same way Swiper does, by saying “Aw! Man!” and running away.