Recently, I was in conversation with various emerging national prophets when the conversation turned to the spiritual harassment that individuals faced as children to successfully navigate their gifts. Apart from being just socially mis-categorized or rejected, many of these prophets shared stories of physical ailments, mental health struggles, or reoccurring sleep issues related to their greatest areas of gifting. While these confessions are concerning, given the current lack of resources for parents to navigate children’s spiritual harassment, their feedback isn’t surprising.
Comparing Current Social Theories
Within the last 2 decades, contemporary Psychologists like author Elaine Aron have popularized the term “highly sensitive person” or “highly sensitive child”. According to Aron, a “highly sensitive child” is someone whose “nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything.” Critics have questioned the highly sensitive label for a handful of illegitimate and legitimate reasons: due Western discomfort with weakness and idolatry of strength, due to concerns that the label isn’t specific enough to entail what protections should be made available to children, due to concerns about whether the label combines multiple variables instead of measuring one variable, and due to concerns that the overuse of the label will limit children’s social skill development.
Ultimately, while Aron appears to be correction in her research related to human nervous system (ie, some people’s nervous systems are more sensitive than others), the applications of her findings can be misapplied. Furthermore, while Aron’s research includes findings from neuroscience and anatomy, it fails to address spiritual factors that can support or limit children’s thriving.
The Goal of this Resource
Parents ultimately have authority over the spiritual atmospheres of their homes, and over the spiritual health of their children. While the sins of parents will effect their children, most Parents are not directly responsible for the majority spiritual issues their children face. However, all Parents are responsible to seek the spiritual health of their children, with the support of churches and schools.
I have written this guide in order to respond to the lack of resources available to parents on spiritual harassment. It is based on the experiences of friends’, their children, former students’, and family.
The goals of this resource are to:
- Present a framework to help discern emotional, physical, or spiritual root of challenges children face
- Define and describe spiritual harassment
- Discuss how spiritual harassment can also relate to children’s specific gifts
- Provide bible verses that guide parents’ prayers and declarations
- Help parents support and advocate for their children at home, at school, and at church
The goals of this resources are NOT:
- To over spiritualize problems that have a physical or emotional origin
- To limit children’s access to medical care that corresponds to the type and severity of their physical or emotional concerns
- To dismiss scientific diagnostic criteria or devalue it’s right use
- To reduce individual differences or assume that all children develop on a set timetable
A Note on Schools
I hope that by providing this resource to parents, families can make informed choices for treatment. While there is a risk that parent may misidentify the cause of their children’s challenges, in my experience as a former classroom teacher, I have seen multiple instances when spiritual harassment increased students’ likelihood of being misidentified for a disability. Especially within high poverty teaching settings where students were frequently misidentified as injustice, there were occasional instances where students’ physical, emotional, or academic challenges had clear spiritual roots.
For Teachers: While the primary audience for this bible verse resource is parents, teachers can check out this resource on the approach I took to navigating spiritual warfare while in the classroom.
Spiritual Harassment and Children
Spiritual harassment can be defined as intermittent or episodic sensory experiences that increase children’s distress through external spiritual stimulus, giving the sensation of being attacked. Similar to if children were being emotionally or physically attacked, when children experience ongoing spiritual harassment, they will demonstrate increased fear, fragility, and panicked-rather-than-deliberate decision-making.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:6-7
These attacks can happen through dreams during sleeping hours or through sensory input during waking hours. Universally, the effect is increased fear.
The concept of spiritual warfare is most robustly outlined within Ephesians 6:10-17, which provides specific instructions for resisting spiritual enemies.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:10-17
The bible also documents that just as adults, children will face spiritual warfare that can impact their health and overall wellbeing.
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus and knelt before Him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.Mark 17:14-15
In response to children’s vulnerability, Jesus invites children and their families to come to him for help.
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 19:14
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.Luke 17:2
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.John 14:18
John the Apostle makes it clear in his letters that children along with people of all ages have nothing to fear from Satan. Through faith, Christ has given children and their families all the authority they need to overcome spiritual harassment.
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven through His name.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.b
I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.1 John 2:12-14
Spiritual Harassment and Prophetic Kids
Spiritually gifted children may face increased spiritual harassment related to their specific gifts. The goal of this targeted intimidation is to terrify children so that they will shut down rather than develop a godly use of their gifts. The enemy’s purpose is to manipulate the uniqueness of children’s callings to introduce fear, steal, and/or limit the expression of children’s gifts. Through preying on children’s senses, the enemy ultimately hopes to disrupt what would be a spiritually engaged, peaceful, life-giving pursuit of God.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.1 Corinthians 14:33
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.Psalm 34:8
When children become afraid of their gifts, the enemy can cause others to fear, ostracize, and misidentify them. While prophets generally face rejection in some measure, it is only healthy to the extent that they are rejected for the right reasons. Furthermore, like Daniel’s group of friends who refused to worship Babylonian idols, prophets can better withstand rejection and stand on their convictions when they have company.
If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. 18But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:18
For all of God’s people and especially prophets, Jesus prepares us for rejection.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.Matthew 10:16-23
“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”Luke 4:24
In the face of certain rejection, Jesus instructs his followers to be fearless and blameless.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”Matthew 10:26
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.John 3:1-13
Unlike being rejected for being Christlike with your community’s support, rejection becomes toxic when prophets are stigmatized and isolated.
“I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of Hosts,” he replied, “but the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I am the only one left, and they are seeking my life as well.”1 Kings 18:22
The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”1 Kings 22:8
When the enemy has lied to and harassed children for years, he can also cause them to misidentify themselves and use their gifts in ways that are contrary to God’s purposes. One example of individuals agreeing with the enemy’s identity for them is the negative national identity that Paul identifies in residents of the island of Crete.
One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”Titus 1:12
In order to come out of agreement with negative self-identity, the residents of Crete would need to allow God to reform their sense of value. From internal transformation of the individual, God allows behavioral change to become the steady, gradual outworking of that change.
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24
First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.Matthew 23:26
Holy Spirit Intensity: Mood Swings, Remit, and Current Events
Just like among prophetic adults, the sensitivity youth have to the Holy Spirit can cause mood swings based on what they are sensing. Children can react strongly to disturbing current events, places, or suspicious adults. When children become sporadically moody, anxious, or depressed, parents can ask the Lord to reveal the source. For example, a child with a passion for justice towards refugees could experience mood swings (anger, grief) over laws and events that mistreat refugees. Parents can teach children to identify what emotions belong to them and what emotions feel deeper than how they are personally feeling. Reading scriptures together that relate to the intensity of those feelings may create space to enquire further of the Lord.
Adults must build trust through listening. Parents can teach their kids how to describe what they are sensing, and find solidarity with God in the depth of his emotions. Parents who are tuned in to their children’s interests will be more flexible to help them process these strong feelings.
While children’s interests may change as they grow, God can form and guide them through short term and long term interests. Though these interests can be negatively influenced by their communities, peers, or families, parents can train their children to set godly boundaries so that they can remain in conversation with the world without being driven by it. Instead of being fearful of the negative influence of others, parents can model how to embody healthier values. Parents can teach their kids how to be both intentionally different while still honoring individuals with conflicting values.
Here is a non-exhaustive, introductory list of some ways that spiritual harassment or mis-identification can influence children’s lives. Though anonymous, these stories are all real childhood experiences of people I’ve met in across contexts. While limited, this list is ideally just long enough to start a conversation.
Physical Symptoms with a Spiritual Root
There are times when children’s issues with skin, digestion, hearing, speaking, or sight can have a spiritual cause. For example,
- Chronic ear infections as a result of hearing and receiving family members’ violent word curses (could relate to a Nabi prophet’s specific calling)
- Being prophetically horrified by an event or series of events that results in continuous loss of appetite (over 1 month)
Physical Symptoms as Prophetic Sign
- Concurrent Developmental delays and Extreme emotional Maturity: Prophetic sign to the school about innocence
- Food allergies/digestive issues: Prophetic sign of false teaching
- Excessive minimalism in clothing: Prophetic sign against materialism
- Protest of Abusive Gender Roles: Prophetic act misappropriated by warfare over sexual or gender identity
Spiritual Harassment at Night
- Night terrors
- Graphic dreams related to being molested (sexual perversion in the family line)
Misunderstanding of Gifts
- Open visions being mislabeled as daydreaming
- Conversations with [holy] angels being dismissed
- Increased prophetic sensitivity to God’s emotions being mislabeled as tendency towards “emotional outbursts”
- Increased sensitivity to graphic visual or auditory content in media, mislabeled as “squeamishness”
- Outfits of clothing that reflects what God is doing within a specific time frame or space being dismissed as flatly “flamboyant”
Misuse of Gifts
- Seer gift: Imaginary friends that are actually [negative] familiar spirits tied to the family bloodline
- Sensing gift (intuitive “knowing,” inner revelation of Holy Spirit): Increased awareness used for people pleasing
- Sensing gift (intuitive “knowing,” inner revelation of Holy Spirit): Increased warfare from Spirit of Heaviness related to mourning family members
Warring through Declarations
If you have discerned that a physical or emotional concern your child is facing could have a spiritual root, here are some bible verses that may relate. You can use these verses to empathize with your child and make declarations about the right use of children’s gifts.
For example, here is a story that sadly came from a Christian home. A child in the family was having continual ear infections. These ear infections were a prophetic sign of related to the constant verbal abuse in the home that needed to be exposed. In that situation, the child’s parents would probably start by repenting for their actions in verbally cursing the child and one another. Then once they have begun to demonstrate that repentance through their actions, the parents could declare something like:
“Lord, I thank you that you have given us ears to hear your voice” (Matthew 11:15). Now in the name of Jesus, I anoint ____’s ears and declare that ____ will hear your voice. Both spiritually and physically, _____’s ears will be completely healed in Jesus’ name.”
Stories like this remind us that even in externally healthy families, there may be things happening under the surface that God wants to address and heal.
Check out the table and infographic below to find more verses!
|Matthew 6:22||“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!||Responsibility to have pure sight for God|
|Psalm 101:3||I will not look with approval|
on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
|Sensitivity towards unclean visuals|
|Proverbs 23:26||My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.||Invitation to observe God|
|2 Corinthians 4:18||“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”||Invitation to observe the supernatural realm|
|Luke 2:30-32 ||“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”||Invitation to observe Jesus|
|Psalm 34:13-14||keep your tongue from evil|
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
|Responsibility to be a pure mouthpiece for God|
|Ephesians 4:28-29||Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.|
30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
|Responsibility to be a pure mouthpiece for God|
|Proverbs 8:13||To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.||Sensitivity to cursing, evil speech|
|Exodus 4:12||“Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”||Responsibility to speak according to what you have heard from God|
|Isaiah 51:16||“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”||Word of God as inheritance|
|Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8,||“’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”||Discerning lip service versus truth|
|Matthew 3:4||John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.||Food choice as a prophetic sign|
|Judges 13:4||Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean.||Individual sensitivity to ingredients|
|Daniel 10:3-4||At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.||Profound grief that leads to lost appetite|
|Jeremiah 4:9||My bowels, my bowels! I writhe! The walls of my heart! My heart is restless within me, I cannot keep silent, for I hear [in] my inner self the sound of a horn, [the] alarm of war.||Profound grief that leads to lost appetite or digestive pain|
|1 Samuel 16:7||But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”||Discerning people’s external appearance vs. spiritual reality|
|Matthew 3:4||John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.||Clothes choice as a prophetic sign|
|Jeremiah 13:7||So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.||Clothes choice as a prophetic sign|
|Luke 7:13||Compassion When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”||Intensity, sensing God’s emotions|
|John 2:17||Zeal His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”||Intensity, sensing God’s emotions|
|Matthew 11:25||Joy At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”||Intensity, sensing God’s emotions|
|John 15:13||Love Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.||Intensity, sensing God’s emotions|
|Matthew 21:13||Holy Anger He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”||Intensity, sensing God’s emotions|
|John 11:35||Sorrow/Grief Jesus wept.||Intensity, sensing God’s emotions|
|Luke 8:45||“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”||Sensitivity to touch|
|Matthew 9:29||Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”||Touch as part of healing|
|Mark 1:41-42||Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.||Touch as part of healing|
|Genesis 3:3||But God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”||Unclean touch as leading to a curse|
|Psalm 105:15||“Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”||Warning involving harmful physical touch|
|1 Samuel 1:20||So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”||Samuel’s Nabi calling relates to his mother’s experience, name meaning related to sound|
|1 Samuel 3:4||Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”||Later, Samuel heard God calling to him|
|Revelation 4:1||After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”||John the Revelator also heard in the Spirit, part of Seer gifting|
|Matthew 11:15||He who has ears to hear, let him hear.||Invitation to perceive revelation by sound|
|Matthew 13:13||This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.||Parables as a means of overcoming issues with spiritual sight and sound|
Lord, please equip each of the people using this resource to war effectively for their families.
Give them discernment to understand the root cause of their child’s physical or emotional symptoms.
In the name of Jesus’, protect their children from spiritual harassment and abuse.
Help us learn more about you through the way we take care of our families.
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