TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, I had an opportunity to pray with two of my friends. We were sitting in a circle, holding hands, and together, we were bringing our prayers before God when it happened: My nose began to itch.
I couldn’t scratch it. I was holding hands with my friends and it’s not like I could let go, scratch my nose, and then reach back for their hands because—EWW. I wouldn’t want them to do that to me. So I tried very hard to ignore the itching while we prayed.
Y’all, what is it about our noses itching at the worst possible time? Got your hands full of books or groceries? Your nose starts to itch. Getting your teeth cleaned? Your nose starts to itch. Trying to take it to the Lord in prayer?? Itchy nose!
Some may see this sort of thing as a silly coincidence, but I don’t believe in coincidences. I honestly believe that sometimes this stuff happens to distract us from being in the moment with Jesus. Our spiritual enemy is formidable, yes… And capable of horrific things… but I do not put it past him to use some kind of spiritual feather just to try to mess with our focus.
Lest you think I’m being ridiculous about this, think about how many times you’ve been listening to a great sermon when all of the sudden, the sole of your foot itches so badly, only a scrubber with the velocity of a chainsaw would relieve it. Or an earworm settles into your brain right before a prayer meeting and you’re mentally trying to get the lyrics to “Baby Got Back” out of your mind so you can pay attention to the prayer requests. Or, ladies—you know that sensation when something pops while you’re in the church pew and you spend the rest of the service wondering if the pantyhose you wrestled your way into will stay up when you get up!
I cannot possibly be the only one this stuff happens to.
Peter described our enemy as a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And he also said we shouldn’t be surprised by trials “as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Now trust me—I realize that an itchy nose is hardly a trial. But whatever the circumstances, Satan is seeking to distract us and derail us. He wants to remove our focus from Jesus because, like Peter when he walked on the water to meet Jesus, we will sink when we get distracted (Matthew 14:22-33).
The enemy does not want us to pray! He does not want us to call on the power of Jesus’ name! He does not want us to grow through the Word!
And he doesn’t limit himself to the trivial things of itchy body parts! He will tempt us to overwhelm our schedules and convince us that we don’t have time to read the Bible. He will make us believe that we don’t have time to pray. Sunday is the only day we have to rest so we need to skip church and somehow, we can actually believe that we are honoring the Sabbath as a day of rest. Satan is very conniving and convincing, and we have to see his schemes for what they are—schemes. We can’t underestimate the lengths, even trivial ones, he will go to in order to shift our eyes from Jesus.
Look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 ESV). And use Jesus’ words as your own! “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man’” (Matthew 16:23 ESV).
Don’t let the enemy distract you! Whether he tempts you to lose focus with fear, worry, exhaustion, shiny object syndrome, or even irritants—adopt the attitude of “Not today, Satan!” and stay firmly fixed on Jesus.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for being worthy of our focus. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep your eyes focused on Jesus. Ask Him to help you ignore outside distractions and protect you from any attempt to derail you.