It's easy to forget that I am in a daily battle. I'm at war. And I'm not talking about fighting with my kids over their homework or the dry cleaners over pants that have vanished. I'm talking about real spiritual warfare--the kind that's kicking me in the butt.
I know a spiritual war is going on because I am praying against stuff that sometimes happens anyway. If I didn't know better, I'd say that my prayers weren't working. But I've been at the Christian life for awhile, so I know that's not true.
I'm just at war. And in a war, nobody wins all the time. War always creates setbacks and casualties on both sides. Everyone emerges with scars. Spiritual warfare is the reason that life is hard.
So this spiritual war between good and evil becomes the reason that I pray, whether I realize it or not. My desire to push in against the enemy, to take back ground I've lost through wrong choices, to conquer new territory in my heart and mind--these are the reasons I pray. I know that I can't win any battle alone. I must pray.
But I must also prepare myself for injury. (That’s the point of armor, right?) I must count on sustaining some injury to myself, and I must certainly expect the quest for goodness to be agonizing. Prayer provides an avenue to fight, but it also provides a conduit for strengthening my resolve. As I lean into the source of power in my life, my faith in that power grows. I fight harder. I take enemy ground. I plant my flag on the hilltop.
And then I start over again. I'm old enough now to recognize that no war is ever really over.
Eph. 6:10-118 “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (The Message)
Today has been especially hard for me, for no particular reason except that I'm grieving, and today I'm grumpy and unsettled about it.
I am not a perky Christian right now. I feel dried up. Parched like a wind-swept desert, I am unable to quench the emptiness of my heart. My faith is strong enough not to rage at God or question His sovereignty; I'm just unhappy, lost even. How selfish that sounds!
After a sad, scrolling-through of social media posts, I ran across my friend Bob Hostetler's blog on Guideposts, dated yesterday, Sept. 20, 2016. I appreciate his perspective on praying through hard times. Here is an excerpt from his blog "Pray for Blessings from Disappointments"--
"Most of us, when misfortune occurs, pray for relief or deliverance. That is natural, and it’s a good way to pray.
After all, the psalmist David prayed, “Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Psalm 70:1, NLT). And “Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, an…
You are gracious and full of awesome power and purity.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
I come today on behalf of someone else.
I want to pray for ________'s repentance,
so first I must ask you to forgive me of my wrong-doing and selfishness.
Convict and remove all the little pet sins I shelter in my life,
the things I say aren't a big deal.
Root them out.
I'll brace myself.
I know it will hurt a little to be honest with myself and change my will and behavior.
But when I do, I will have peace.
Forgive me, please.
So now I ask you to forgive __________. I confess on his/her behalf.
Forgive him/her for rebellion, selfishness, pride, and ignorance of Your laws and Your expectations.
Moses confessed for Israel, and even though they rarely repented,
You had compassion on them,
for Moses' sake.
You showed grace and mercy and lovingkindness.
Because someone cared enough to ask You for it.
Show Your lovingkindness to __________.
Put a wall of…
You know I've got a big couple of weeks coming up. My children are leaving the nest in a variety of ways. Whether first time, second time, or last time--it doesn't really matter. There is a stabbing pain when my kids move away. Release, pride, gratefulness, worry, and then loss, which tries very hard to morph into panic and desperation. (Smothering and helicopter-ing seem like options, even though I condemn it but secretly want to do it.)
My emotions are going crazy, so I know that my feelings and thoughts cannot be fully trusted. I must lean into you only. Worry makes me assume the worst. Loss makes me feel rejected. Panic pushes my loved ones away. (Read a blog about losing your kids to college here.)
Control my thoughts, Lord. Speak truth to me, and help me hear you. Help me to focus on your love and grace to me, not my feelings of loss or worry. You've got this. You've got me. You always protect, always draw near, always speak to those who seek you. And to those who don't…