While I was preparing this topic for Gracewriters this week, my computer suddenly went dark and quiet and smelled like burnt toast. Stuff happens, but it’s interesting timing.
Other Christian writers are facing heightened challenges at this time, from practical difficulties to flare-ups of chronic illnesses to conflict at home.
It’s important not to over-spiritualise all the difficulties we have in this world.
But we also do need to remember that as Gracewriters we have gone into battle for the hearts, minds, hopes and dreams of human beings who are precious to God, and that battle is waged against an enemy.
Jesus believed there would be opposition. He acknowledged there were forces we can’t see or understand that interfere with our life on earth. That’s a good enough authority for me.
So I’m trying to be more deliberate about training for this battle.
Training for combat
Bible reading and prayer are key disciplines in the spiritual life.
I feel challenged to be more deliberate about them. To train as if I’m in boot camp.
(Please note: This is a message for me. I am not and never will be anti-self-kindness.)
Putting on armour
Sometimes I pray aloud through Ephesians 6 – also thinking as I go, about what it might mean, and how it might apply to what’s happening for me on that day.
I personalise it using “I” and “me” – which brings the message home to my brain, but I have also found a sense of great encouragement and power in doing this.
I believe we need to be wary about personalising the details of every Bible passage, but this one seems to be extremely appropriate to use that way.
10 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. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-19, NIV)
So I might pray it like this, and add extra thoughts that God brings to my mind about what’s ahead that day:
I will be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. I will put on the full armor of God, so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes. For my 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. Therefore I will put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I may be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand. I will stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, I will take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I will take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I will pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, I will be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. I will pray also for my Christian leaders, that whenever they speak, words may be given them to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. I will pray that they may declare it fearlessly, as they should.
I don’t recommend praying this as though it’s a magic spell or incantation, but rather engaging deeply with it as you pray. I also try to think about how each piece of armour might be relevant to what I’ve got to do today.
Perhaps ask God to show you some passages he’d like you to pray through?
What about you?
What Bible passages and prayers have you found encouraging, challenging, comforting or upskilling lately?
Please share them in the comments and tell us what they’ve meant to you.
Jeanette Grant-Thomson says
Lately I’ve often quoted to myself bits of Psalms 46 and 91 and others. ‘Thank you Lord, you are my refuge and fortress’, ‘thank you, Lord I dwell in the secret place of the most high under the shadow of your great wings’ and so on. I say it slowly and it means a lot to me as I say it.
Belinda Pollard says
Such beautiful reminders, Jeanette. Makes me think about the verses which tell us that God’s word is living and active, and also that his word will not return to him void. I tend to assume that’s referring when he’s sending out his word in salvation or judgement… but it seems that it works in comfort and nourishment too.
Dawn Dicker says
Great idea, Belinda, to read Scripture out loud and personalize it. I tried it this week and you’re right, the words do sink in more deeply that way. One of my favorites is Philippians 4:4 — “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Applies in every situation. 🙂
Belinda Pollard says
Thank you so much, Dawn. I think I might try that one to lift my spirits this week. I’ve been thinking that I need to pause for a minute or two of deep breathing maybe once per hour, and that would be a beautiful verse to say in such a moment.
Sue Lambert says
Thankyou f Belinda for the timely reminder that we need to armour up in these uncertain times.
Prayer and bible reading has never been more crucial at this time to establish a firm foundation beneath us.
I also have been challenged personally by two key questions taken from my daily devotional “My Rock My Refuge” by Tim Keller.
Am I changed enough by the great truths of the Gospel that I profess to believe with all my heart?
Show me the gaps between my faith and my practice and empower me to close them.
Belinda Pollard says
Thanks so much, Sue. Those questions are quite profound, aren’t they. The gap between what I believe and how I act… not just in terms of sinful vs saintly, but in how I deal with things like exhaustion and anxiety. Food for thought. x
Alison Young says
I saw a tshirt online somewhere with the words Faith (over) Fear – written like a maths fraction. It’s really impacted me.
Belinda Pollard says
I’m not that great at maths, Alison, but I love that it helped you. I actually printed out a quote from Wez Hone that impacted me: I have been placed above the enemy in the org chart of heaven.