Most of us are bothered, at least from time to time, by the tricks, temptations, deceptions and interference of Satan and his demons, especially when we’re trying to do good for God. He seems ever determined to derail us from drawing closer to the Almighty. Generally, we’re able to fend off these nuisance attacks with prayers, fasting and frequent reception of the sacraments.

Sometimes, however, things become so fierce that we find ourselves weakening and becoming disheartened. At other times, the crosses and dilemmas God allows (always for our own good) weigh us down and we face serious discouragement. We might even develop a rebellious spirit or doubt God’s goodness. That too, is done compliments of the devil — he wants nothing more than to see us lose hope and turn against God. These are real struggles, battles that must be fought against our own selfish wills and the spiritual attacks of the evil one.

That’s when it’s time to enter the War Room.

What’s a War Room? In common vocabulary, a war room is a military headquarters where maps of battles and territories are kept, and the military powers assess the war’s progress and work out their battle plans. Often the war room is underground and always is fortified in some way to protect the military powers as they plan. In the language of Christian faith, a War Room is a place set aside to go head-to-head with the efforts of Satan to bring about our defeat and desolation. This War Room is a place for robust prayer, rigorous sacrifice and mighty defiance. It’s the place where our battle plans are generated with grace of God.

I recently fashioned a War Room for myself. For most of my life, I’ve had a prayer corner where I go to pray and give honor to God and to our Blessed Mother, Mary. In my prayer corner — which is called a home shrine according to my Schoenstatt spirituality — is literally a corner of our home in which we’ve enthroned an image of the Blessed Mother. There’s also a crucifix, holy water, and other images and sacramentals that assist us in our devotions. But that’s not my War Room.

My War Room actually is in our basement, in the section where we have a treadmill, elliptical machine and stationary bike. It’s grungy, somewhat cluttered, and desperately needs a good sorting and cleaning. It’s primitive, but it’s my war room.

The Church teaches that there’s a link between our bodies and our souls. “The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body — i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature,” the Catechism tells us. (CCC, 365) There’s a correlation between what we’re doing with our bodies and the response of our souls. That’s why we kneel at Mass. It’s also why praying while physically active can be especially fruitful. Add to that the fact that exercise also is good for our health, and you’ve got a winning combination.

I based my War Room on the 2015 Christian drama of the same name. Written by Alex and Stephen Kendrick and produced in partnership with Provident Films, Affirm Films and TriStar Pictures, the movie tackles the tough issue of spiritual warfare in a declining marriage. Real estate agent Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) works with the elderly Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) to sell her house. In the process, she confides in the wise Miss Clara that her marriage to her husband, Tony (T.C. Stallings), is in serious trouble. That’s when Miss Clara shows Elizabeth the closet that once was her War Room during troubled times in the early years of her own marriage. Miss Clara teaches Elizabeth how to fashion a War Room in her own closet at home and teaches her how to go to battle with prayerful fierceness and courage. When things are tough, Miss Clara taught her, we must enlist Christ to help us get tougher.

I, too, was facing spiritual warfare not due to my marriage but to a different kind of situation that affected me very deeply, often to the point of helplessness and intermittent anger. Clearly, the devil was waging war on me and those close to me. In the past, I’ve worked off stress with exercise. Submerging myself in physical activity changed my focus, relieved my stress, and released endorphins which greatly improved my mood and outlook. Most often, I’d have a rosary in my hand, belting out Rosaries and chaplets until I calmed down. In an odd way, I felt more powerful in my soul as I amped up the physical power in my body. This “accidental” discovery led to a purposeful method of engagement with the evil one. I was facing another such time.

Thus, my War Room came to be.

Now I go to my War Room every day possible, taking up my rosary-weapon and fighting with prayerful fierceness and courage. There I can work my soul hard and my body even harder. I can chant my prayers aloud and call upon our Lord, our Lady, St. Michael, and a host of other saints to join me in battle. I can listen to Scripture or other devotions on my phone, I even can shout out the prayers if I want to (which I’ve been known to do at times). In my War Room, I assess, plot, plan and gain strength, clarity and increased conviction that, through Christ and with the intercession of his Mother, the battle will be won. When things get tough, I go to my War Room and enlist the help of Christ to get tougher.