My father-in-law had a heart attack last week, followed by quadruple bypass surgery to repair the broken places in his blood flow. After five to seven days in the hospital and months of rehab, he should be back to normal, and I suspect he will have a heightened sense of awareness.
Once the initial shock was over, we spent countless hours examining how it happened and what he could have done to prevent it. We came to a common conclusion: heart disease began long before the first signs of a heart attack. The disease is somewhat preventable. You have to know the risk factors and how to fight against it.
For the follower of Christ, there is potential for a spiritual heart attack threatening our life.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” Scripture teaches us to guard and protect our heart. Not just our physical heart that pumps blood through our bodies and keeps us alive, but our spiritual heart, the part of us that is created for intimacy with the Father. It’s in that heart where we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus and are used by Him to advance His Kingdom. When sin enters, we are in danger of stepping away from God’s will for our lives and the effects can be crippling to our spiritual health.
Consider the woman who ignores her personal time with the Lord. Does one day destroy her defense against the enemy? Certainly not. But when one day turns to a week, and weeks turn to months of neglecting to be filled with His Word and inviting the Holy Spirit to be part of her day, she makes herself vulnerable to attack.
What about the son who hears the Word of God as a child but doesn’t hear it into adolescence or into adulthood? The places in his heart designed for God’s truth to flow freely become clogged up with things of this world, making him an easy target for spiritual attack.
We can all fall susceptible to setbacks if we don’t have a prevention plan in place. Here are the ABCs for guarding your heart and preventing a spiritual heart attack.
A – Avoid harmful influences. We can protect our heart by being aware of what we put into it. What goes in a mind will often come out in a life. Pay attention to what you allow into your mind. Is anything harmful threatening to stop God’s truth from pumping through your brain?
B – Become more active. Exercise disciplines like reading the Bible, strengthening your prayer life and meeting together with other believers. These keep you strong in your walk. Are you building a defense against spiritual attack by being spiritually fit?
C – Choose life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The best way to fortify our hearts is to choose the Giver of Life every day. Walking with Jesus is a lifestyle, not a one-time event. Are you intentional about your relationship with Jesus?
A spiritual heart attack happens when our hearts have been made weak by sin and indifference. It begins long before the first ache and feelings of numbness. Can we block a spiritual heart attack? Many times, yes, but we have to be active in preventing it. Prevention is attainable, but it is not accidental.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”