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One of the areas where spiritual warfare is most prevalent is in our homes and our marriages.

Here Satan attacks with ferocity.

His goal: division.

He creates sudden upwellings of often vicious and irrational emotions.

When we realize this, it has far less chance of what it seeks: Divide and conquer is his strategy.

As an excellent, useful book, The Spiritual Warrior's Prayer Guide, puts it:

"Perhaps you consider that your marriage has been reasonably healthy most of the time over the years since your wedding. You and your spouse are both Christians, you're usually compatible, and you share fairly common goals. Yet you can see yourself in one or more of these scenarios:

-- Find yourself bickering with your mate over relatively minor matters, then holding a grudge...

-- Feel resentment when your spouse spends money without first talking it over...

-- Feel neglected when home alone...

-- Feel resentment when your spouse is more polite or attentive to others...

-- Wish your partner were as spiritual (or as friendly, or as interesting as others)...

-- Find the relationship with your spouse is suffering because one or more relatives has come to live in your home..."

As the authors, Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock, point out, such vignettes are common challenges. And if not confronted through prayer (asking and granting forgiveness) may begin to consume a relationship.

"They are footholds the devil will exploit in an effort to destroy marriages," says the authors (see Ephesians 4:26-27).

It is at the first signs of disruption that we should step back and view matters through prayer -- never through the prism of anger!

"Paul teaches that God intended marriage to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church (see Ephesians 5:21-23)," notes the book. "Is it any wonder that Satan lashes out at marriages, trying to destroy them? Or that he tries to ravage the fruit of marriage, our children?

"God wants us to be aware of Satan's schemes and guard against them (see Corinthians 2:11 and Ephesians 6:11)."

Indeed, just a few minutes of prayer together can mean a world of difference; it almost always clears the air. Otherwise, the fog or "smoke" builds. It clouds. It blinds. It suffocates.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Little things become big things.

In prayer, we often see how ridiculous a dispute is.

Often, relationships are saved by simply exercising humility and laughing at our over-reactions.

Laughter can purge. Forgiveness certainly does!

Resist (and persist) and the devil will flee (James 4:7)

Faithfulness -- in all ways -- is key.

So is intimacy.

What God has put together....

"Clearly, God desires that marriage partners be faithful to one another sexually. To protect them from attack in this area, wise believers know they must work at keeping the relationship strong spiritually and emotionally."

Repairing a broken relationship?

Repent. Command unclean spirits out (in the Name of Jesus). Thank God for forgiveness, and "ask the Lord to strengthen you to walk in your freedom, and 'not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage'" (Galatians 5:1)."

[resources: The Spiritual Warrior's Prayer Guide]

[photo of lightning taken during storm at St. Michael's Episcopalian Church, Austin, Texas]

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