Originally from Love to Read Club newsletter.
Julie always slept well — some would say like a rock. When she dreamed, her dreams were usually encouraging and fun. But around the age of 40, she started having nightmares. These night visions were so vivid and demonic that they forced her to cry out in her sleep. Sometimes, her cries were so loud that they woke her husband.
She found herself experiencing these repeated nightmares and constantly tried to wake herself up. During these encounters, demons weighed her down and tried to keep her from waking. These dreams terrified her so much that she began fearing sleep itself. This fear eventually crept into her day. Consequently, she began to feel on edge nearly all day long.
The atmosphere in her home no longer felt safe; instead, it felt hostile and cruel. This went on for weeks. One day, she visited the nearby park for fresh air. While jogging, a stranger's dog broke loose from its leash and chased her. Julie screamed and ran so hard that she wet her pants. When the owners caught up to take hold of their dog, they were amazed. They had never seen their dog act like that before.
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Julie returned home and wondered if it were possible the neighbor's dog had picked up her own partnering with fear. If so, she realized she was actually handing over power to the enemy. She called a friend who encouraged her to take authority over her home and dream life. Hanging up, Julie blasted worship music and recited Psalms all throughout the house. She anointed each doorway with oil and even went up to the attic to release peace. Following these acts, her fears shifted and the atmosphere over her mind and home changed. From that day on, the nightmares stopped.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience...But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-6)
Julie learned a valuable lesson. Partnering with this atmosphere of fear allowed its presence to increase in her life and even began to broadcast from her to her natural surroundings. As long as she continued to "buy into" its anxiety, the evil spirit was able to operate with power. When she finally took ownership and renounced its hold over her life, the atmosphere and its relating messages lifted.
We can define the word atmosphere as a pervading tone or mood. Spiritual is something invisible as opposed to a material or physical entity. When I talk about spiritual atmospheres, I am referring to the invisible (spiritual) tones or moods hovering over an individual, community, city, or region.
Some people believe that ungodly atmospheres are the same thing as demonic spirits. While I do believe demonic atmospheres are presided over by the demonic realm, I do not believe the atmospheres themselves are actual demons. Atmospheres, for me, are the prevailing spiritual realities created by man's partnership with the entities residing in the spiritual realm. As the messages these spiritual beings emit are agreed upon and partnered with, the resulting atmosphere expands. Therefore, I see atmospheres, both godly and ungodly, as cyclical partnerings between broadcasts from the spirit realm and man's participation with them.
Just as Julie's partnership with fear gave it increasing power, demonic strongholds grow as communities digress from God's Word and embrace lifestyles of sin. As more people partner with the messages that are announced, the demonic influence grows. This cycle continues until either repentance is made, truth is revealed, or God intervenes. The church is designed to operate as bringers of the Kingdom of God and to release hope, peace, and prosperity into these communities where demons work to release the opposite.
Many of us have experienced spiritually "thin" places or open heavens. These are areas where the accumulation of worship and prayer has released the tangible presence of God. In these places, healings, salvations, signs, and wonders are more easily attained than in more spiritually "thick" areas. These thick places are environments where negative spiritual climates have been allowed to develop. In areas governed by a religious spirit, for instance, the prophetic tends to not flow as freely.
I see the development of negative atmospheres as a result of people partnering with sin, lies, or the demonic. As humans partner with these things, more and more evil spirits are attracted. This results in the development of a negative spiritual climate from which demonic forces can operate.
For example, if a married couple allow sin into their lives by viewing pornography, an open door is created in which the demonic is actually invited into their home. These demons, now given a legal right to harass and torment, gladly take up residence and work to sow further seeds of discord in their marriage. If this harassment is not dealt with through repentance and closing the door to pornography, then a negative spiritual climate will develop.
The more people agree with these evil spirits and their messages through partnerships with sin, the more powerful the atmospheres become. This is how strongholds develop. Strongholds, areas of particular resistance, grow as people partner with lies, sin, and demonic broadcasts. Whether these broadcasts are transmissions of fear, hate, perversion, or self-loathing, they weaken a person's spiritual and emotional health and cause havoc.
When evil spirits gain a place of power over a region, they broadcast lies over the entire area—much like a radio station. We have the capacity to either "tune in" to these channels or to switch them off. Part of our responsibility in tuning out the enemy's voice is for us to switch the channel we are listening to that is emitting a sinful broadcast, but doing so does not actually shut off its transmissions into the airwaves. We need to release God's opposing messages into the airwaves to actually stop these transmissions.
About a month before we were scheduled to do our very first Shifting Atmospheres conference, I received a phone call from an intercessor friend. She wanted us to seek the Lord in prayer regarding a demonic influence that was gaining traction among the youth in her county. Several young teens had committed suicide, and while she and some friends had been praying around the schools, news of suicide pacts had been exposed. Teen suicides swept so strongly through the community that even some of her church's family members bore the pain of personal loss.
Before we finished the conference, we gathered together all willing participants and placed them in four groups to signify north, south, east, and west. Guided by the Holy Spirit, I led them in a quick prayer of repentance. Because we were dealing with an assignment of death, the prayer went something like this:
I ask You, God, to forgive me if I have ever partnered with a spirit of helplessness, hopelessness, secrecy, murder, or death, and I forgive anyone in our community who has partnered with these spirits. We release hope, vision, and life back into our region, and we command this attack on our youth to stop immediately in Jesus's name.
One of our sons, Cory, had written a song, "Dissipate," a few years back that had an anointing to break suicide. I had him stand on stage and play it in the background while we prayed. We were encouraged to find out weeks later the teen suicide pacts had been exposed and the accompanying suicides stopped.
Before you take authority over spiritual atmospheres in your region, make sure your authority level and covering are up to the task. To begin, start stewarding your own internal atmospheres before branching out into the external ones around you. As you grow in your understanding of atmospheres and the authority you carry, begin practicing in your own home. As you steward your authority and the territory God has given you, more will be granted:
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matthew 25:29).