Sometimes I forget about the devil.

I’m embarrassed to admit it. But it’s true. I get so enamored with my Lord, so caught up in my fellowship with Him that I neglect to keep a proper eye on the fiend who is—always—lurking about, scheming to steal what the Master has promised to give me.

Such forgetfulness is costly. It leads to frustration and needless delays. It leaves me scratching my head, puzzling over why progress is some area of my life has stopped. Unaware of the devil sneaking around in the shadows, I wind up much like my grandson, Addison, did a few years ago on his sixth birthday—doing everything right yet getting the wrong result.

Granted, Addison’s problem wasn’t the devil. It was my husband who had decided to play a trick on him. (Not to compare Kelly to the devil, you understand. His mischief, unlike the devil’s is good-humored and malice-free. Just to be clear. Anyway…) Addison’s birthday party that year fell on Thanksgiving. His mother had promised he could open his presents after dinner was over and the plates were cleared from the table. “BUT DO NOT RUSH US!” she ordered.

For hours, Addison was a model of obedience. He waited with excruciating patience for every last scrap of turkey to be eaten and each fork to be laid aside. Then he sprang into action and began to clear the table. Giving great care not to appear rushed, he carried the first of the 12 plates to the kitchen. Then he returned for the second…the third…and the fourth.

About that time, Kelly got an idea. He slipped into the kitchen, retrieved a couple of the plates, and, unbeknownst to the birthday boy, set them back on the table. So when Addison came back for plate five—lo and behold!—his work had been undone.

Staring at the abundance of plates, confusion clouded his little face. What could have happened? He was working hard but he was making no progress. Heaving a sigh, he re-delivered the wayward plates to the kitchen while, at the same time, Kelly stealthily replaced them with more.

Round and round they went. Addison taking plates off of the table. Kelly sneaking them back onto it. Until finally Addison refused to endure the injustice anymore. Arms akimbo, he put his foot down with a vengeance. “NO MORE MAGIC PLATES!” he yelled.

At that declaration, we all dissolved into laughter and the party began.

Such is the trickery of the devil. He robs us of the fruits of our labors. He steals the blessings God has promised us and keeps us running in circles wondering what we are doing wrong.

But there is one great flaw in this comparison. The devil is not kidding. This is no joke. He is dead serious. His work is not just mischievous; it is, as one commentary describes it, pernicious, causing insidious harm or ruin, injurious, hurtful, even deadly and fatal.

Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you never forget that. But just in case you do, I can tell you this from experience: You can’t afford it.  You must stay vigilant for, sure enough, the devil roams around like a roaring lion. If you let him, he will devour your destiny, your God-ordained dreams, and anything else he can lay his teeth on.

Don’t let him do it. Read Ephesians 6:10-18 every day until this is carved into your consciousness: You have an enemy. He is defeated but you must still overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. Day after day, you must thrust Him through with sword of God’s Word. You must put your foot down against him in prayer and keep it there until you are standing in the fullness of what belongs to you in Christ.

That’s what Jesus meant when He said in Luke 18 that we “ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up)” (v. 1, The Amplified Bible). He wasn’t talking about fellowship prayer but about the kind of prayer that puts pressure on the devil.

Such prayer, according to the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, involves more than you and God alone. It  “concerns three, not two but three. God to whom we pray, the man on contested earth who prays, and the evil one against whom we pray. And the purpose of the prayer is not to persuade or influence God, but to join forces with Him against the enemy. Not towards God, but with God against Satan…” (S.D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer).

It is a kind of prayer that no victorious believer can ever afford to forget.