Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ spent 30 years in His "Private life" in Nazareth with Mary and St Joseph. He spent three years in His Public life; and He spent three hours on the cross, shedding His Precious Blood for our salvation.
In His Public ministry, which lasted only a short three years, Jesus carried out basically three (3) activities, all of which were imbued with a spirit of prayer. These three activities were: 1) Preaching the word of God and explaining to individuals, smaller groups, or even thousands of people the message of the Kingdom of God. His primary teaching tool was the use of Parables, which are short earthly stories with a heavenly message. Next, 2) Jesus performed many miracles to prove that He was not simply a man, but truly God. These miracles could be divided into two categories: miracles over nature, such as calming the storm, walking on water, multiplying the loaves and the fishes, and transforming water into wine, and the other miracles were related to the healing of human bodies of sicknesses, often incurable, such as giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, power to walk to the paralytics, and the cleansing of the horrible disease of leprosy. All done out of love and compassion.
Third and lastly, Jesus came into frequent contact with the devil, and often Jesus would meet individuals who were actually possessed by the devil or even at times many devils (as in the case of Legion). Jesus showed His power over the devils by performing exorcisms--- actually casting out the devils from these bodies, which resulted in true freedom, peace and joy.
This being the case, we all must be keenly aware of the devil, the enemy, Satan, the "Prince of this world", "The enemy of our human nature" (St Ignatius) and how the devil attacks us, where, when how, and in what circumstances, so that we can have a game-plan or a spiritual strategy to implement so that we do not fall victim to his tricks, traps, and temptations. So we will outline the SPIRITUAL STRATEGY AGAINST SATAN.
1. AWARENESS! When tempted, honestly admit it. "Name it and claim it!" Even say to yourself, when aware, "I am being tempted by the devil!" Self-knowledge is essential for growth in the spiritual life-- as well as knowledge of when, how, and what time and manner the devil tempts me!
2. PRAYER! A short, fervent prayer from the heart can serve to extinguish the flaming darts of the enemy. An aspiration, ejaculation, short fervent prayer is like a fiery dart that pierces the clouds and can serve to attain grace to banish the devil. A most powerful prayer is the HAIL MARY! The devil is paralyzed with fear at the mere name of "Mary", the woman who crushes the head of the serpent. (Gen 3:15)
3. FLEE! Take to your heels and flee! If the temptation is a person, place or thing, then run away from the temptation. He who plays with fire will get burnt. Many sin because they are dancing with Mr. D. (Devil).
4. LAZINESS! At all costs avoid laziness in all forms. The saying is all too true: "Idleness is the workshop of the devil!" If you do not have anything to do then the devil will give you plenty to do! Porn use, drugs, drinking, vandalism, gang activity--- all of these are often related to having too much free time on one's hands. St. Bonaventure stated, "When one is busy there is one devil that tempts you, but when you have nothing to do, an army of devils circles you and gives you their advice!
5. WEAK POINT! The last (14th Rule) of Discernment of Spirits, for the first week of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius is precisely this: the devil circles around us like a soldier who encircles a castle, looking for an opening. When the soldier finds an open window, door ajar, roof not covered, the basement door not locked, then he can enter and plunder, steal and kill. The devil encircles us and looks for a crack, weak-point, vulnerability to shoot for the kill. We all have a weak time during the day when we are more prone to fall into temptation. The devil knows this time! Do you? In confession or spiritual direction investigate this point. Indeed what is my KRYPTONITE???
6. DESOLATION. Lack of faith, lack of hope, lack of love, sad and depressed, discouraged, lukewarm, drawn to the sensual--- these are all signs of being in a state of desolation. (Rule 4 for Discernment). In this state of soul, it is universal: the devil will take advantage of this to tempt, attack, shoot for the kill! Therefore, in this state, we should be doubly vigilant and use all the spiritual tools available to avoid falling into sin!
7. SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: TRANSPARENCY. St. Ignatius also advises us that in times of desolation it is highly encouraged to seek out a confessor or a spiritual director and to be open with him. That is to say, to reveal one's state of soul to the experienced director. Why? The devil desires the exact opposite! If this state is kept bottled up within, it is then that the devil can wreak havoc spiritually and turn the mole hill into the mountain. Better to cure the cut right away, before it becomes infected, gangrenous and in need of an amputation. In sum, humility and transparency with one's director!
8. JOY. Cultivate joy! St. Paul exhorts us: "Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice in the Lord.. (Phil. 4:4). The devil rejoices in our sadness, but the devil is saddened by our rejoicing! May our joy be abounding, but rooted in love for the Lord. Mary teaches us where true joy is to be found, in the Lord! "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour..." Note! Often we commit sin preceded by a state of sadness. Getting drunk, using porn, smoking weed, overeating--- all are frequently manifestations of seeking joy but in the wrong place!
9. JESUS' EXAMPLE IN THE DESERT. Our true model in everything is Jesus. To conform our lives to the life of Jesus should be the goal of all Christians. In the desert, Jesus was tempted by the devil! Jesus conquered the enemy! What were the tools that Jesus used to defeat Satan? The three basic tools were: Prayer, Fasting, and the Word of God. Jesus spent 40 long days in prayer. Through prayer we can conquer the devil. Temptations are strong, but God is much more powerful. Fasting! Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights; later on in His ministry He will tell the disciples that some devils can be expelled only by prayer and fasting. Finally, the WORD OF GOD. The Bible/the Word of God is like a two edged-sword, that can strike and kill the devil!
10. EXORCISM SAINTS! Call upon the saints that are invoked in the formal exorcism prayers. Who are these saints? St Michael, the Archangel, St Joseph (Terror of demons), St. Benedict. But especially we should call on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Hail Mary, Rosary, Memorare, Hail Holy Queen are all powerful prayers that put the devil to flight!
In conclusion, the life of man on earth is a warfare. The devil launches his fiery darts at us because he knows that his time is short. Let us study this "Spiritual Program" seriously so that when temptations come, we will be able to extinguish them and gain greater merit and glory, that is awaiting us, in the Kingdom of Heaven! Let us pray and work and fight now and then rest forever in heaven!