Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,..but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…Put on the full armor of God so that…you may stand your ground.
Ephesians 6: 10-13
Prayer is standing strong in the middle of a spiritual battle. It is remembering that there is an unseen spiritual realm of darkness at work in this world, and an unseen spiritual realm of light and love that is also at work. Prayer is staying grounded in God’s powerful love and light.
The point of praying with awareness that spiritual forces of darkness are at work is not to live in fear or despair. Quite the opposite. The point of praying in this way is to keep us mindful that God’s love and light are far more powerful than all the darkness we may encounter in this life. No matter how great the forces of evil are in this world, the power of God’s everlasting love is far greater.
We are told to rely on God’s great power, to stand in the truth and strength of the power of God’s active love. It is worth noting that the armor of God in this text is defensive armor. We are not to attack. We are to stand, knowing that we are safe in God’s care.
The psalmists often sing of the power of God’s love. In Psalm 89:2,8 we read:
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
O Lord God Almighty, who is like you?
You are mighty, O Lord,
and your faithfulness surrounds you.
The psalmist declares that God’s “love stands firm forever.” It is in this faithful love that we can stand, no matter how great the darkness may seem. God’s love stands firm and powerful and we can stand secure in the power of that love.
Most of us have had our own personal encounters with darkness. Sometimes the darkness can feel overwhelming. We may be tempted to despair. We may be tempted to believe that the power of darkness is greater than the power of God’s light and love. But the power of God’s love is always at work and is always more powerful than all the evil and all the darkness in this world. Even in the hour of Jesus’ arrest, torture and death–the hour that Jesus called the hour “when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53)–God’s powerful love was at work, saving, redeeming, healing, blessing us all.
In the middle of spiritual battle we may be tempted to fear that we are not loved, that we are beyond hope, that God is not truly loving or truly powerful. Prayer is remembering that these are lies. Prayer is standing securely in the mighty power of God’s faithful love.
Sometimes the darkness
is all I see, all I know.
I become overwhelmed
and I am tempted to despair
and to run away.
But you call me
in the mighty power of your love.
Strengthen me to stand
even in the heat of battle,
knowing your love is always
more powerful than any darkness.
Take a few moments to sit quietly, breathing deeply and easily. Picture the light of God’s powerful love above your head. Let it descend on you like a gentle blessing, falling over you like a protective shield, moving under your feet like a strong foundation on which to stand. Let it fill your heart and mind, guarding your heart and mind with peace, filling you with joy. See yourself standing securely in God’s powerful, faithful, unshakable love for you and for all that God has made. As you stand in this way, see yourself putting on a belt of the truth of God’s powerful enduring active love, a breastplate of God’s goodness, a helmet of God’s saving grace and power, a shield of faith and shoes of peace. In your hand take the sword of the Spirit which is God’s declaration of love and power. Stand securely in God’s mighty love. Let your standing be your prayer.