How to Tackle Spiritual Struggles

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Young woman in warm clothing stretching her arms on the beach

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:12 New American Standard Bible

The Toastmasters’ speech contest began. I was the first contestant.

I had given many club speeches, but this contest was different. I remembered my first and only competition where I was disqualified for exceeding the allocated time– by a few seconds. 

I stood in front of the groups and looked at the timing light. The light would turn green at five minutes, yellow at six and red at seven with a thirty-second grace period to wrap up the speech or be disqualified.

I finished my speech with the red light on. I made it, and I won the contest. Now, I was eligible for the area speech contest. Instead of feeling relieved, I was terrified.  

The Opponent

As Christians, we know the enemy of our soul is not carnal but spiritual, but if we’re not careful, we can sabotage ourselves with negative thinking.

Sometimes, my biggest battles are the self-accusing thoughts that feed insecurity. Perhaps spiritual darkness begins an attack, but I eventually finish the work.   

I struggled with anxiety as I prepared for the area contest. My stomach was upset, I had headaches, and I dreaded the event. What on earth is wrong with me, I thought.  I needed to learn how to tackle spiritual struggles.

Spiritual Growth is a Struggle

Anything worth having involves a struggle. A job promotion, marriage, giving birth, parenting, a healthy lifestyle or debt-free living isn’t easy.

Spiritual growth is no different. We wrestle against thoughts, human opposition, circumstances and spiritual attacks. There is an underlying spiritual root to every reaction. The question is: What kind of reactions do we want to produce? We can grow healthy and unhealthy roots. 

I knew God called me to write and speak about God’s faithfulness. I knew I needed to author my first book ironically titled, “No More Fear.” After praying and searching the scriptures, I realized this wasn’t about the speech contest; this was about questioning God’s call on my life. I decided to take a closer look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and understand what it means to “struggle.”   

The New Strongs Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words translates “struggle” as wrestling or wrestle.

Wrestle to Win with 10 Principles

I’m not a WWF fan, but I researched wrestling—just for fun. A high school in Pennsylvania trains champion wrestlers, and their website brought practical applications to Paul’s message. The parallels between physical wrestling and spiritual wrestling were similar. It comes down to principles.

Wrestling philosophy has ten sound principles. Let’s compare them to spiritual “wrestling.”

1.   Train for stamina

Fatigue brings defeat. God gave us a day of rest for a reason. Making sure we are spiritually and physically refreshed is important.    

2.   Be aggressive

We pray defensively when life happens to us, but we can become “offensive” prayer players. The “Lord’s Prayer” outlines assertive prayers for provision, prevention and protection.

3.   Be tough

We have an enemy, but we can be a resilient opponent. God gives us clarity and direction.

4.   Have a predetermined plan

We need a plan for spiritual growth that includes Bible study, daily prayer, community and accountability partners.

5.   Make your move

Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and be ready to respond.

6.   Keep your head up

Looking up to God protects us from becoming discouraged and downtrodden.

7.   Keep moving

We are a work in progress. “We press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:14 NASB   

8.   Execute combination moves without hesitation

When we face resistance, have a backup plan. Ask for prayer, fast, listen to worship music, or find support from your local community.

9.   Learn alternative moves

Don’t stop moving forward. If you don’t want to read your Bible, listen to an audio version. If you don’t feel like praying, have someone pray for you. If your faith is waning, find a Christian book that will offer encouragement. Use a combination of strategies to wrestle effectively.  

10. Study and practice continuously

Christians never arrive. We are training until we meet the Lord. We need to remain humble and teachable to grow in Christ.

We Have an Unfair Advantage

I don’t know if I’ll win the area speech contest, but I won the spiritual battle over fear with faith.

In Christ, we have an unfair advantage—we wrestle to win! We have authority in Christ, and that makes us spiritually armed and dangerous.   


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What have you wrestled with recently? How did you gain victory over the battle? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. 


Have a blessed weekend

Marisa Shadrick



New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). . LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Strong, J. (1996). The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

“WRESTLING PRINCIPLES.” Manheim Central Wrestling. Accessed September 20, 2014.


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2 Responses

  1. I absolutely love this post. Fear is such a huge issue for me, and it’s only recently I’ve begun to realize what was at the core: doubt that God is truly good and sees me as precious. This past Sunday, I was deep in prayer; our church is going through a struggle, and I was fearful to move forward in any way. I prayed for faith; terrified, knowing that this was like praying for patience (haha), because the only way to build faith is to exercise it like a muscle in times of adversity.

    And so gently, I felt Jesus telling me this: /It’s as if you don’t know how precious you are to me. i died for you. Do you really believe I would harm you?/

    Faith truly is the answer to fear, but what we put that faith in makes the difference. Or should I say… WHO.

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