Before we can fully enter into the new territories and opportunities that God has for us this summer and fall, we need to address something that may hold some of us back: Familiar Spirits.
The Lord spoke this to me last week as my husband and I were about to put an offer on a beautiful property we felt led to buy. We went on-sight to pray for wisdom and, as we waited, the Lord indicated that there was a “Familiar Spirit” on the land. As I prayed further, I sensed He was addressing a stronghold at work that was limiting any offers being received for the property.
The previous owner and his family had been there for thirty years. Though I didn’t sense anything “evil” at work, the accumulated memories and perspectives, both good and bad, from the past life with this family had opened a door to a Familiar Spirit to take possession of the property. Until that was dealt with, it would be much more difficult for a new owner to acquire the property.
I have personally dealt with this type of ungodly spirit in my own life. The enemy takes advantage of our fondness for memories and perspectives from the past and can create a stronghold that limits our ability to receive NEW things. Our own experiences can become so “familiar” to us that we aren’t able to perceive or embrace new perspectives or priorities. We can, unconsciously, idolize our past as something sacred. The result of this mindset will cause inner unrest and irritation at anything new that tries to come into our lives. That which was once meaningful and life-giving now becomes a stronghold of the past.
For it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me – then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. (Psalm 55:12-14)
The Lord had been preparing me for this revelation a month earlier. I had a dream where my left arm was being cut off! It wasn’t painful; I simply knew it needed to be done. Even as I was lying on the operating table, my friends watched with me as an angel stood by to encourage me. Since that dream, I knew the Lord was preparing me for a pruning work in my life. I had no idea what it might be, but I knew that whatever it was, it was so familiar to me, it would feel like my left arm was being cut off.
On the same day we prayed over the property, I was driving around town and praying about this Familiar Spirit when the Lord reminded me of the dream about my left arm. He identified MY Familiar Spirit that was holding me back from stepping into the next season of ministry. I was absolutely shocked. The area He revealed had become such a part of my call and identity; I never would have imagined it could be a hindrance. Yet, as His truth sunk in, I realized how much my familiarity with this strength and gift had me stuck in a rut. Because I was so used to operating in a particular way, I wasn’t even open to considering other possibilities.
I began to experience the exact same feelings I had in the dream. Even though it would seem unthinkable to let go of this priority in my life, I knew it must be done in order to move forward and embrace new mindsets, new skill sets, and new perspectives. I had a total peace about it; even anticipation as to what the Lord was going to bring my way! In praying through these Familiar Spirits I sensed a shift in the spirit and the Lord confirmed this reality when the owner of the property accepted our offer – the only offer he received – and took!
I believe this is a word from the Lord for many who are being prepared for some NEW things. Even as we have prayed for an outpouring of the Spirit in our lives and communities, some of our current wineskins are too familiar and will not be able to contain the new wine. Some of our patterns of thinking and ways of living, and even ministering, must be totally surrendered in order for the Lord to have absolute sway with His means and methods of bringing breakthrough.
Be alert to any mindsets, methods, or memories that are attached to a Familiar Spirit which may be limiting new possibilities in your future. Allow Him to fill you with greater faith and anticipation for the new things to come – even seemingly impossible things.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139:3 NIV)