By Brooke Holt
“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” The Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent, Book of Common Prayer
My children had an array of dress up clothes as they grew up: princess outfits, Gator football and cheerleader uniforms, fireman attire, and then there was my favorite set – the armor of God. Like most boys their age, my sons loved to play the part of a warrior, and so what better warrior to be than a warrior of the Lord? They had the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation (see Ephesians 6:10-20). Those boys were set to fight anything the enemy would bring against them!
As you pray the Collect today, you are asking God to clothe you in his armor and to protect you – body, mind, and spirit – from all adversaries and adversities. You may not have the physical armor to put on each day as my sons did; however, Paul guides you to put on spiritual armor in his letter to the Ephesians (again, see Ephesians 6:10-20). This provides your defense against the attacks of the enemy. You put on the armor and join the prayer of the Collect that God would aid you in this defense.
The primary key in warfare is knowing the enemy. Who comes against you? What warfare tactics and weapons does the enemy use? What strengths does the enemy have? What weaknesses? Just as physical warfare requires recognizing the enemy and understanding his ways of warfare, so must you acknowledge and recognize the enemy of your soul.
Last week, we read of Jesus being driven out to the wilderness for forty days. After he had fasted, Satan came to Jesus who then was hungry, thirsty, and physically weak. Satan questioned Jesus’ identity, tempted Jesus to prove himself, and then offered Jesus glory without the pain of the cross. Jesus overcame each temptation with scripture, and Satan departed from him.
Satan’s tactics have not changed through the years. He waits for opportunities to come when you are physically, mentally, or emotionally weak. He looks for times when you have let your guard down, and he questions the goodness of God and the plans of God. He berates you for your sin and then encourages you to continue in that sin. Satan loves to hit you while you are down. He will do anything to move you out of the love, peace, and joy of the Lord.
This Lenten season, be aware of and alert to these attacks. Then put on the armor of God and pray for God’s protection of your heart, mind, and soul. Like Jesus, you can overcome every attack of the enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you live alert to the enemy, to his evil work, and to the ways in which he tempts you to go astray? Consider the Lenten discipline of putting on the armor of God each day and asking him to strengthen you for every battle. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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