I don't think I really understood James 3:2-4 until December 3, 1993, when I gave God permission to take complete control of my tongue, and consequently control of my body. It turned out to be a powerful learning experience -- a powerful experience indeed!
There have been many times since that day that I wanted to pray, but did not know what to say or ask. At those times I learned to release my tongue to the Holy Spirit and trust Him to say what needed to be said.
And then there were those times when the Holy Spirit asked me to let Him use my tongue to speak a message in public. I must admit that I had "stage fright" about that while the Lord patiently took me through some learning experiences. So, I became aware of the importance and the power of praying in tongues and speaking in tongues publicly, but it never occured to me that the Lord might want to use my tongue in spiritual warfare. Then about ten years ago it happened, and I was amazed!!!
Some fellow Christians who live up the road a mile or two from us here in the mountains scheduled a weekend of ministry, praise, and worship in their home and invited us and others to attend. Charles Elliott Newbold, Jr., a former pastor, teacher, counselor, writer and author of "The Harlot Church System" would be teaching. Sylvia and I decided to attend, and I'm glad we did!
It was a very uplifting and informative weekend, but the experience I remember best took place while we were praying for Sue T., who had been struggling with debilitating illness for a long time. Someone put a chair in the middle of the room and asked her to sit in it. Charles and a few others circled her chair, laid hands on her head and shoulders and began to pray for her. Others prayed too. Sylvia and I were sitting on a sofa nearby and began praying as well. Since I did not know what to pray, I decided to drop to my knees and turn my tongue over to the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning I was praying in tongues just above a whisper, but that quickly changed. A language and words unknown to me were coming out of my mouth louder and louder. And with great authority! Now I was standing, and taking a couple of steps in the direction of the windows and outer wall! My fist was clenched and my arm outstretched! The volume of my words got louder and louder! I knew at this point that the Holy Spirit was no longer using my voice to pray to my heavenly Father. I began to understand... The Holy Spirit was using my tongue and my body in spiritual warfare!!!
In a few momments I stopped. I knew I was finished with whatever the Holy Spirit had involved me in. I continue to be amazed -- even now, as I write this years later.
A few minutes later, Charles asked me if I knew what I had said in tongues. I told him that I had no idea. Then I asked him if he knew.
Charles said, "I only know that it was a demon chaser! And the demon is no longer here!"
That was my introduction to using tongues in spiritual warfare. However, the experience I remember best happened one night when Sylvia was in the hospital helpless, her nurse was a witch, the room was full of evil spirits, and I was 35 miles away...
It was September 10, 2004. Sylvia later described it as her best day and her worse night in the hospital.
Prior to June 5th when her sickness began, Sylvia was very healthy and even worked out at a fitness center three or four days a week. She became very ill and finally agreed to go to the doctor on July 6th. He immediately put her in the hospital. She has been in intensive care and in a drug-induced coma since July 15th.
On August 23rd her doctor said, "It is going to take several weeks, but she is going to get well." He said that on July 18th he thought she would die before the day was over, and that it is a miracle that she is still alive. He also said that God must have a special plan for Sylvia.
As of September 5th, in addition to intensive care, Sylvia was now receiving physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. She was very weak and without muscle mass after being in bed for over two months. She could only move a few parts of her body, and only slightly. As she grows stronger she will have to learn to speak, eat, sit up, stand, walk, etc. They are weaning her off the ventilator. She still has a feeding tube and a chest tube to give the air leak from her lung some place to go. The doctor expects the air leak to heal up completely after she is off the ventilator for a while. During her time in the hospital she had several near-death experiences, but she was getting well.
Now it was Friday, September 10th. Sylvia and I watched and enjoyed TV together for the first time since before she got sick. I laughed a lot. Sylvia was all smiles and seemed to be laughing too, but she was still unable to make much of a sound.
At about five o'clock I left the hospital so I could arrive home without having to drive after dark. On the way home I talked with our daughter Suzanne on the cell phone and learned that she planned to go see Sylvia after work. I did not know that she had planned to do that. I told her what a good day it had been for Sylvia and me.
Weeks later after she was home, Sylvia wrote her own memories of that day and what happened next: "It was an ordinary day in the ICU. Bob came to visit, as he did each day. For the first time since entering the hospital, I wanted to watch TV. We watched a couple of funny movies.
"Around five when Bob left to go home, I was feeling good. I was still not able to talk or eat or get out of bed or even push the nurse button to summon help. But the nursing staff took good care of me.
"At seven that evening the nursing staff changed and my night nurse came on duty. Each nurse took care of only one or two patients, and this was a nurse with whom I was familiar and who had nursed me many times before. She was a favorite of mine, as she was so attentive to my needs.
"One thing that bothered me about her was that late one night as I watched her through the large plate-glass window, she arose from her chair and put on a black hooded robe. She raised her hands upward and appeared to be worshipping. She turned to each direction, stopping each time to worship. Each time she was about to turn toward my direction, I would close my eyes and pretend to be asleep. I was very frightened. I knew that she was not worshipping God, and I suspected that she was worshipping Satan. I don't know if she was alone, but I could not see anyone else.
"She continued to be my nurse and one time when she was my morning nurse, I awoke to find a small animal in bed with me. She told me that he liked to visit the patients, but I was very uncomfortable and as soon as I could, I pushed him out of the bed and he went scurrying out the door to the hall. Some of the others saw him, picked him up and seemed to think it was wonderful that she would bring him in to share with the patients.
"Even after this event, she continued to be my nurse from time to time. And then I started to think that maybe I had imagined these incidents. I did not tell anyone at the time, not even Bob. Since I was on so much medication, I expected that anyone would think that it was the drugs talking.
"However, this particular night something was different. She came into my room, was very attentive and then said that she was going to mix some medicine for me, which would help me to sleep and that I would feel much better when I awoke.
"I was immediately panic-stricken. I cannot remember any other time in my life that I actually believed that someone was going to kill me. I believed that whatever she was mixing, if she injected it into me, that I would either die or become brain-dead. And that no one except her, would ever know why. I was unable to speak clearly because of the trach tube in my throat and I could not push buttons, so there was no way for me to call for help. And since she was my nurse, she is the only one who would respond anyway. I knew that only God could save me, but I didn't have any idea how He could accomplish that. I was helpless!
"About 7:30, while the nurse was still mixing the "medicine" on the other side of the room, Suzanne entered. She had not called to say that she was coming and I was amazed to see her.
"Then I had another panic attack because I knew that Suzanne was also in danger. As well as I could, I told her to leave now, because it was too dangerous for her to be there. I told her to call Fred, her husband, and have him meet her on the way home. All of this I did with sign language and writing on my hand with my fingers and with Suzanne trying to read my lips. And all of this time the nurse was still mixing the medicine on the other side of the room with her back to us.
"Suzanne said that she would not leave me when I was so upset and that she would spend the night there in my room. She told the nurse that she was spending the night and the nurse said that she was not spending the night, because I need my rest to get well and could not rest if she was there with me. Suzanne insisted that she was staying because she could tell that I was very upset."
Now back to me. I was downstairs in my studio at home when the phone rang around 9 PM. It was Suzanne calling to let me know that she was going to spend the night with Sylvia. She said that she had arrived in Sylvia's room around 7:30 to find Sylvia terrified, believing that she would die during the night. Sylvia still counldn't talk, but was somehow able to communicate with Suzanne (drawing letters on the palm of her hand with a finger, etc.). Suzanne said, "Mom told me to make sure you know she loves you. Dad, she is saying goodbye. She thinks she is going to die tonight. A shocked look came on her face when I arrived. She urged me to go directly home, to call Fred and have him meet me somewhere, that it wasn't safe for me to be here. Mom tried to tell me something the night nurse said or did. She says the room is full of evil spirits. The nurse doesn't like it, but I'm staying with Mom tonight."
I felt confirmation in my spirit that they were in danger. I told Suzanne that I would pray for them and began to do so when I hung up the phone. I began praying in English, but I wasn't entirely sure what to pray for. So I quickly released my tongue to the Holy Spirit and began praying in a language I did not know. A few minutes later, I noticed my body language and the tone and volume of my voice and realized that I was no longer praying to God, but that God was using my tongue to speak to evil spirits. I had a boldness that I had never had before, and I wasn't screaming but the volume of my voice was louder than I have ever heard myself speak. At times I shook my fist or clapped my hands to make a loud, sharp sound, apparently to add emphasis to what I was saying.
I listened and watched as I found my voice and body doing something that I had never experienced before. I was standing, facing straight ahead. I shouted a word that I did not understand, but which was apparently the name of an evil spirit. Then I shouted a command of some sort. Next, I turned slightly to my left, named a different spirit, and shouted the same command. I repeated this action, turning slightly, calling out a different name, and giving the same command, until I had turned in a complete circle. I don't know for sure, but it seems the Holy Spirit was using me and the authority He has given me as Sylvia's husband and Suzanne's father to command the evil spirits in Sylvia's hospital room 35 miles away to leave them without doing any harm.
Then it seemed that I was finished. I stopped speaking. And I had peace!
I decided to go upstairs. Just as I was about to get in bed, my cell phone rang. It was Suzanne's husband, Fred. He is a high school teacher and had been announcing their football game. He said, "Dad, I hope I'm not calling too late. We just finished our game and I notice that you have been calling."
I said, "No. I haven't called you. Have you heard from Suzanne?" He said, "No." So I told him that Suzanne had called to let me know that Sylvia was terrified, and saying goodbye because she thinks she will die tonight, and that Suzanne was going to spend the night with her. I told him that I had been praying and I asked him if he would pray too. He said that he would, and that he was okay with Suzanne staying with Sylvia all night.
After that conversation, I went to bed, but immediately the Lord prompted me to get back up and call Art and Alice Ann Thompson, who live in LaFayette, Georgia. I told them about Suzanne's call and the reason for it, about my unusual prayer, and I asked for their's. I knew they would know how and what to pray for. They said they would do that right away.
Much encouraged by my phone visit with the Thompsons, I went back to bed and went to sleep. Each time I woke up during the night, Sylvia and Suzanne immediately came to mind and I heard music playing that did not come through my ears, but originated inside my head. It was the Isaacs, a bluegrass gospel group, singing, "Stand Still, And Let God Move." I knew this was God's way of telling me that I could relax and go back to sleep, because I had already done all He wanted me to do and that He would do the rest. It was very comforting.
When I arrived at the hospital the next morning, the night nurse was no longer there. I spoke briefly with the nurse on duty and entered Sylvia's room. Suzanne was still there.
Suzanne said Sylvia cried off and on all night and that Sylvia tried to get her to help her out of bed. She wanted to go home. Suzanne explained how that was not possible, but Sylvia was determined that she could do it if Suzanne would help.
The nurse asked Suzanne to step outside the room during the night and she did. Sylvia asked Suzanne not to leave her alone with the nurse again, so Suzanne pretended to be asleep each time the nurse entered the room after that.
Later that day Suzanne called the nursing supervisor and requested that the nurse Sylvia had the night before never be assigned to Sylvia again. She said that we were not accusing the nurse of anything, but Sylvia was terrified of her. So we did not want her to come near Sylvia.
That evening Suzanne said to me, "That was strange about Fred's phone last night."
"What about Fred's phone?" I asked.
"He said his cell phone had listed three missed calls from your cell phone. He selected one of them and had the phone do a 'call back.' You answered the phone and told him that you hadn't called. After he talked with you, he went back to check on the three messages indicating you had called. They were missing. It was like they were never there!" As I thought about it, I don't think I had ever called his cell phone, and I don't think I even knew his number.
I smiled. To me this was another confirmation that Sylvia had not been halucinating. She really had been in danger, and God had let her know that. By God's grace Suzanne had decided to visit Sylvia and arrived just in time to interrupt the night nurses' plans to give Sylvia some sort of concoction that she had been mixing. The fact that the nurse was mixing some "medicine" in Sylvia's room was another confirmation to me that the nurse was acting on her own, because I remember being told by a different nurse that all of Sylvia's medication was prepared by the pharmacy and came ready to be injected. God had involved us in spiritual warfare, and Sylvia's life was saved once again.
Sylvia's recovery seemed to accelerate from this point forward.
Unlimited permission to copy text without alteration or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.