Day 38: Armor of God
Day 38. Spiritual Warrior’s Prayer: Adapted from Ephesians 6:10-18.
Finally, help me to be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Help me to put on the full armor of God that I may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, help me to take up the full armor of God to enable me to resist the evil of today, and having done everything, to stand firm. Help me to stand firm, having girded my loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod my feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. In addition, I take up the shield of faith with which I am able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And I take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition, I pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, I remain on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. I do all of this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
So what does Paul mean when he pens this letter from prison? Why does he use the image of a soldier ready for battle? Whom are we fighting? Are we not much more civilized in 2017 than people were 2000 years ago? Is putting on the Amor of God compatible with Maundy Thursday Foot-washing services?
These are serious questions. If we do not think there are forces of darkness in this world—we are not acknowledging how addiction, ethnic cleansing, abuse of all kinds, hostility, and general alienation are stripping the world of God’s image.
Often when I tell people I put on the armor of God everyday—I get looks of shock. The conversation goes in another direction. But we fool ourselves if we think we can domesticate evil and avoid the fact that the greatest human deception is thinking we do not need God. Paul Markham in his book, Rewired: Exploring Religious Conversion, (2105,) quotes, “All powers in the world, including state, corporate, and economic structures, have spiritual and material dimensions.” We live in a world that opposes God by acting as if freedom, knowledge and science are not compatible with God’s will. Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Seminary, disagrees. She states: “The science not only does not count against personal responsibility, it also does not rule God’s action out of the picture. Rather, it helps us see how better to open ourselves to the transforming power of God.” [May, 2007 the Forward in Markham, Rewired.]
The Armor of God is not protection from violent creatures; the Armor of God is a firm understanding of how God’s Word transforms us. As long as people try to keep God out of state, corporate, and economic structures, evil will flourish. Science and intellect are not enough to take on the battle of state, corporate and economic abuses that thrive in darkness.
On this Holy Thursday, the tradition of foot-washing services reminds us that we are called to be humble servants. Few contemporary leadership courses suggest that true power rests in humility. Can we humble ourselves this day to serve without expecting credit or reward? Will we freely accept that God’s reign on earth as in Heaven is Good News for everyone?