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Do Demons Have a Plan when Tempting Us?

January 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare

Father Fortea, do demons have a plan when tempting us?

Remember: a demon is a spiritual being that possesses a greater intelligence than ours. Therefore, in temptation, a demon tries to enter into a conversation with the person he is tempting. If the person being tempted resists and never considers the temptation for even a moment, then it is a one-sided conversation – the demon speaks but gets no answer; his words are ignored.

But a demon can be at our side for a very long time, analyzing us and coming to know our particular weaknesses. He will then seek to tempt us at our weakest point. A demon is extraordinarily pragmatic, and he knows that the probability of success a type of temptation will have. If a particular person is virtuous and is therefore unlikely to commit a mortal sin, a demon will tempt the person with a venial sin. If he knows that even this temptation may be unsuccessful, he will tempt the person with an imperfection. For example, tempting an ascetic with gluttony would be a waste of time, but getting such a person to fast excessively would much more likely be successful. And, if the demon has success in this area, he will then try to tempt the person to fast in a way that builds up his pride or is most damaging to his health.

In another case, a demon knows that tempting a nun to neglect prayer would probably not be fruitful, but tempting her to pray excessively and thereby neglect her work has a higher likelihood of success. Or to convince her that she does not really need to obey her confessor since he is a man and is less spiritual than she. A demon never tempts blindly but always analyzes and attacks where he sees there is some possibility.

The examples given above are of temptations directed toward people of prayer and virtue. The man given over to vice (i.e., a person who habitually commits mortal sins), on the other hand, has little protection. Without the armor of God’s grace, his spirit presents numerous flanks that are unguarded and exposed to temptation. His passions are easily incited by the action of the demons. This is why we pray in the Our Father for God to “deliver us from the Evil One.” Even though we are free to resist temptation, we need to constantly ask for the Father’s protection and deliverance. This is why the Lord has given each of us a guardian angel – to counter the evil inspirations of the devil with inspirations to goodness and virtue.

Temptation is incompatible with prayer. If one is tempted and prays, the temptation disappears. Prayer creates a barrier against temptation, since in prayer our intellects and wills are centered on God. Eventually, a demon cannot resist this and leaves us alone.


Art: “Beelzebub and them that are with him shoot arrows.” An illustration from the Henry Altemus edition of The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, published in 1678. Illustrations by Frederick Barnard, J.D. Linton, W. Small, etc. Engraved by Dalziel Brothers. Public domain by Authors date of death being more than 100 years ago, in 1688.


Editor’s Note:  To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • Celeste Lovett

    Hello Father,
    T hank you for your examples. I have been actually struggling with the example you mentioned concerning “excessive prayer” that results in neglect of responsibilities. I’ve had such difficulty in this area as justifying doing so is easy to do. What would you recommend as a proper balance? I am very protective and almost selfish about having my personal time in solitude with our Lord. I have also been seeing my day activities (as a teacher of autism) as service to God, a sort of “mission” and that easily translates into prayer in action. However, as far as all the educational classes and homework that goes along with it, for 2 years now, I’ve been extremely neglect ful of these seemingly meaningless responsibilities and find myself in prayer rather than study. This has already cost me financially and is about to cost me (possibly) my job. I pray daily for motivation in this area but it never comes. I have also discussed this with my spiritual director. These times I should be working are spent in prayer or spiritual reading and I seem to have a strong pull away from completing what is being demanded of me by “the world”.

    • Tessye

      Dear Celeste, how wonderful it is to spend time with our Lord and to exchange our tears for peace and joy. One area you wrote stood out to me when you wrote about praying for a specific motivation, but it never comes, which brings a few questions to mind: One, Perhaps God is trying to tell you that He has another “profession” for you. Maybe your spiritual advisor has mentioned this, for example joining a religious group where the devotion is prayers for this poor world of ours.
      Or two, Maybe there is something that has nothing to do with your job that God is trying to tell you, but you’re not listening….I remember a time in my life where I found myself feeling miserable on a daily basis, even though i prayed and frequent adoration. So one day I begged God for the truth and He gave me TRUTH, which hurt alot and that’s an understatement! When people say God can reprimand and be harsh, it is true, sent me running to my spritual director(s) in tears (my parish priest and Padre Pio, thru this book, “PADRE PIO’S WORDS OF HOPE”), the truth was I had to empty myself…something, I totally did not understand at that time.
      Or three, maybe the time for prayer has turned scruplous, which would be what Father Fortea is refering to in his examples.
      Only God knows your answer, because even if we had been experiencing the same thing, the reason would most likely be different since we are all unique. God bless you Celeste.

      • Celeste Lovett

        Thank you Tessye,
        I am going to look up getting the Padre Pio book you mentioned and am focussing all my prayer on asking our Lord to reveal to me the Truth about this situation. I have also started a novena to th Holy Spirit. This morning, for the first time, I started adopting the attitude that I may not be so much responsible for this outcome but possibly the difficulty lies in one of two scenarios. Either it is simply not God’s Will OR Satan is interfering. Thank you for responding and giving me things to consider

        • Tessye

          Who knew the road to Calvary was going to be this hard huh?! I am happy that you are leaving all the responsibility about your job situation to God, we need to completely trust in Him and say, “Your will be done God!” Like this week, I have felt spiritually attacked with pertubing thoughts and anxieties, I knew some thoughts made no sense and some thoughts provoked worries, which declined my trust in God….I felt very negative. After a couple of days of struggling, I realized that I needed to totally surrender myself to God’s mercy…enclosed myself in my room, got on my knees, begged for His forgiveness for my weaknesses and to send me more trust, and He gave me peace!!! It’s an on going struggle that walk; sometimes He gives us long periods of peace and sometimes short. Thanked God for working through us with His Spirit!!! I will include you in my prayers and if you can also do the same for me too, I would greatly appreciate it. Celeste, I love you in Christ and God bless you!!!

          • Boo

            3 years on and your comments is a timely help for me Tessye! I hope you are still on
            your journey with the Lord.

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