How to Recognize Spiritual Attack

Life is full of ups and downs and highs and lows.  There are days when everything goes right and then there are days that make us ask, “What is going on here?” I think sometimes the question isn’t about what is happening HERE, but more about what is happening around us.   I believe that there is a war happening all around us.  A spiritual war between good and evil – between God and Satan.  I also believe that much of what transpires in our circumstances is due to those battles.

The unseen world is real and the forces of evil are always trying to defeat the Children of God while God’s warrior angels as well as God Himself, is fighting for us. A fascinating passage of scripture is found in 2 Kings 6.  Elisha, a man of God, had made the King of Aram very angry.  So the King decided he would capture Elisha and sent an ENTIRE army to Dothan, where he was staying, to capture him.  Check out what happened in verses 15-17.

“When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”

In this passage, God pulls back the curtain for just a moment to let us see the unseen.  To recognize that there are spiritual happenings all around us. Throughout scripture we catch glimpses of the spirit beings fighting for their respective sides, but Ephesians 6:12 draws the battle even closer.  We see that we, God’s children, are now part of this cosmic battle.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” 

Spiritual battle is for real, but how do we know when we are under spiritual attack?  Don’t bad things happen sometimes just because we live in a messed up world?  Yes.  I also believe that God can use blessing OR trial to shape us for good and get us on the right path.  He can use difficulty to discipline us if necessary.  Satan, however, can throw hard times our way to discourage us or he can woo us with a life of ease to make us lazy and ineffective.  So the question remains…how do you discern what is happening in your circumstances and recognize if the enemy is after you?

Here are three ways you can recognize if you are under spiritual attack:


The frequency and intensity of things going wrong in your world. Have things started to unravel suddenly and are things coming at you fast, hard and often over a short period of time?

I shared some of this in an earlier post, but recently a crazy number of things started spiraling at my family over the course of about 10 days. As things kept coming our way, we recognized that we were under spiritual attack.

  • Monday – First day of school.  Insanity abounds.
  • Tuesday –   My husband found out he had melanoma.
  • Wednesday – I had an accident in the kitchen and burned myself badly.
  • Thursday – My parents come into town for a visit and I find myself at the urgent care ($$) with the burns from the day before.
  • Friday – I find myself at the Burn Center in Augusta ($$) while my parents are on kid duty. My Autistic daughter, Cadence, has new kids in her class, an additional teacher, there’s extra people in my house and I’ve been at the doctor for two days.  Her schedule is out the window and her world is a little upside down.  She has a terrible episode at school.
  • Saturday – Cadence melts down multiple times and I’m dressed like a mummy in bandages and can do very little to help her.
  • Sunday – My husband is a pastor.  Sundays are always hard.
  • Monday – Husband and I spend the morning at the Cancer Institute to find out how bad the cancer is, knowing his aunt died from Melanoma.
  • Wednesday – I end taking my mom to the ER at 1:30am

That’s not even all of it.  I’m not complaining.  I’m telling you that I recognized what was going on after about two days.   1 Peter 5:8 – “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” The enemy was on the prowl and had us in his site.  When he gets YOU in his site, then you often experience the “when it rains…it pours” and “I can’t catch my breath” tornado. Know what I’m talking about?  Yep, I bet you do. That’s what a spiritual attack often looks like.


The timing. Pay attention to what has recently happened.

Have you just made a major decision? Have you started something new that is good for you or others?  Have you recently committed to do something at church or are you seeing growth in a ministry that you are involved in.  Have you volunteered to do something that is helpful to others? Have you taken a leadership role in something you feel passionate about?  Has your family been through a change?  Have you done a kindness for someone else?

Whenever I speak at a church or event, almost without exception, a child will get sick, have nightmares, or something will happen that will keep me awake most of the night before hand.  When our church teaches Bible club at our local elementary school, you can count on it…whatever can go wrong that day will.  Flat tires, volunteers get sick, the projector won’t work, etc. That’s because we take the gospel into the public school and have seen 30 kids accept Christ as their Savior over the last few years.  Whenever you do anything that benefits the Kingdom of God and others, it makes the Devil mad and he wants to thwart your efforts. Look at the timing.  It is a great indicator of spiritual attack.


 If something happens that brings fear and doubt into your heart and mind.

2 Timothy 1:7 says – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”  Fear is not from God. God gives His children peace, even when the world is going crazy.  Fear comes from the enemy.

One of my children has always been very sensitive to spiritual things. At six years old she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her and received Christ as her Savior. Almost immediately she fell under attack from Satan. She became afraid of leaving me. She couldn’t go to sleep at night. She wouldn’t walk into ANY room alone.

Really?  Satanic attack? She was only six!  unfortunately, Satan is no respecter of persons.  He doesn’t care if you’re young or old.  He only cares if you are doing something that benefits God’s kingdom and if you have the potential to do something to promote God’s agenda.  He hates it.  He pulls out all his dirty tricks to try to get you to be afraid and to doubt God’s goodness so you will not be an effective Christians.  He would love to convince you that it’s not worth it to follow God.  It’s too much trouble.  It’s too restrictive and God really doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

Satan is known as The Father of Lies.  He has had a lot of time to get in a lot of practice, so he is pretty good at convincing us to doubt God.  He convinces us that God isn’t paying attention to us or that He is paying attention…but that He is angry at us all the time.  Determined to get us. I’ve been in ministry for almost 25 years and I’ve often seen that when things go wrong people start asking these kind of questions:

  • Why me?
  • What did I do to deserve this?
  • Why is God doing this to me?

Friends, when you begin to doubt God or His goodness, or you are afraid of what the future holds, you have been attacked by the Enemy of your Soul.

I’ve just shared three ways that you can recognize a spiritual attack.  But there’s some good news about this.  You do not have to walk around with a bullseye on your back and just hope for the best.  You can defeat this enemy.  You don’t have to be a victim, but you can become a victor.  So be sure to read the next blog post, “How to Defeat the Enemy.”