August 13, 2017

Our Father: Deliver us from Evil

Our journey through the Lord’s Prayer is almost done. Last week we prayed to be delivered from temptations in our own actions. Did you have time to walk a labyrinth or other path?

Today we look at the request that God keep us safe from evil. There is evil in the world, of that fact everyone agrees. Watching the nightly news brings it right into our living rooms with scenes of war and destruction and hatred and violence. There have always been evil and frightening things. We know that God is our protector and shield. Psalm 28:7 tells us, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Sometimes though it can be difficult to remember that when assaulted by all the pain and problems and dangers in the world. With the ancient Scots we can beg,

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Enter the Presence: Paul’s letter to the Ephesians advises, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

An important part of the armor is the final verse. Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “Pray in the Spirit at all times”. In the Lord’s Prayer we are asking God to clothe us with this armor, as we enter God’s presence with prayer. 
Stand In Awe: The Deer’s Cry is a prayer or song attributed to St. Patrick. Legend says that Loeguire, the High King of Tara, resolved to ambush and kill Patrick and his monks to prevent them from spreading the Christian faith in his kingdom.  As Patrick and his followers approached singing this hymn, the King and his men saw only a herd of wild deer and let them pass by. The words remind us of the power of God in the heavens, fire, sea, and rock. It is God’s strength that keeps us safe as Christ is behind, below, above, and all around.  

I arise today through the strength of heaven
Light of sun, radiance of moon
Splendor of fire, speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind, depth of the sea
Stability of earth, firmness of rock

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me
God's eye to look before me
God's wisdom to guide me
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me

From all who shall wish me ill
Afar and a-near
Alone and in a multitude
Against every cruel, merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul

Christ with me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise, Christ to shield me

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me

In fact, it is the Lord who is our armor. Paul’s advice to ‘put on the armor of God’ is to allow God to surround us.

Involve your Heart: Think about what each part of the armor of God means in your life. Draw a shield shape, and add these ideas to it.

Take time to listen to the hymn Deer’s Cry in this video. Let yourself rest in the protection of Christ above, and surrounding you.   

This week focus is on Deliver us from Evil. Next week we will come to the conclusion of the prayer. 

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