#DETOX is designed to prioritize God in the new year as we allow him to cleanse and renew our souls (Psalm 51:10). Together, we are committing to 21 days of prayer and fasting so that we might come into greater alignment with God’s will, purposes and plans believing and trusting in His power alone to create lasting impact and change in our lives, our church and our world.
Over the course of our #DETOX journey, we will have a daily prayer focus that will help guide and unify us as a community in prayer as we seek God's heart together on a variety of topics. You can find an overview of our daily prayer focus topics here. The following post is meant to serve as a reminder and inspiration on what and how you might pray on today's prayer focus, but should not limit how God leads you in praying. Be sure to follow along daily at our #DETOX Daily Blog here.
Prayer Focus: Spiritual Protection
Football is a big part of my family, and it’s a big part of my Dad’s faith story. He and my Mum were often asked to speak to various sports teams, youth groups, and other ministries about their testimonies. Sports metaphors were almost always used, and this one was my favorite one that my Dad did…
My Dad would start out by reading this passage:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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. -Ephesians 6:11-17
He would then have someone come to the front… usually the smallest, scrawniest kid in the crowd, and he would ask if this kid would ever play in a football game just as is, with no football equipment or protection. A resounding “NOOOOOOO” would fill the space, and my Dad would continue.
He would have an actual belt that goes in the football pants, and he would say that it was the belt of truth. The belt ensures the player’s pants won’t fall down and trip the player or make him look silly, just like the belt of truth protects us from “tripping” or foolishness. The kid would put it on, as ¾ of it dangled to the ground. Then he’d put shoulder pads on the kid and say it was the breastplate of righteousness. He talked about how the shoulder pads protect the bones in the upper body, and essentially the lungs and heart. Righteousness protects our hearts. My Dad would have some obnoxiously large cleats, and would fit the kid’s feet with “readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. He would say a player isn’t ready to compete without proper footwear, and we can’t be ready if we don’t have or know the Gospel. The shield of faith would be a football jersey (meant for a 300 lb man) to hang over the pads. Our faith is like our team jersey, meant to be worn for all to see. The helmet was always the funniest, as the kid’s head would inevitably tilt to one side because it was oversized and way too heavy! The helmet protected the head, obviously the most important piece of equipment in football, just like salvation is the most important and protective piece for a Christian. And lastly, the football itself would serve as the “sword”. It’s what is meant to be played or “fought” with in a football game, just like the Holy Spirit is critical in all of our battles.
My Dad would then ask if this kid was now ready to and play a hard-fought football game. Crickets…. I mean what was the right answer? The kid had everything he needed, he got dressed up for a reason right? But he looked absolutely ridiculous in the get-up, everything falling off of him, and his head tilted sideways from the heavy helmet. Although he had the entire outfit, was he really ready for battle?
Ultimately, my Dad would share, the battle wasn’t for the kid to win on his own… the kid would have a coach and teammates. The kid would also probably not go into a game without the proper preparation. The kid would need to practice, learn the game, improve his skills, get stronger physically and mentally, and become a better athlete every day, all under the guidance of the coach and all with the support of his teammates.
Now that I’m older and thinking about the spiritual battles we go into every day, I realize what an awesome metaphor this is! It is up to us to have the right equipment… We need to put on the full armor of God to go into battle and win the day! However, for ultimate victory, we need to remember the battle is not our own. We have THE COACH, God Himself, writing up an amazing playbook and putting us through some incredible workouts. We have teammates, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are in the trenches with us and on the sidelines cheering us on.
Take some time to think: Is the full armor of God fitting you like a scrawny kid in football pads? Or have you filled it in, like a Heisman trophy winner? Do you take time to do the heavy-lifting, the wind-sprints, watch game film and reflect on past performances? Or do you casually ride a dusty exercise bike while eating a tub of ice cream? What does your team look like? Are you a good teammate? And do you allow yourself to rely on your teammates? Lastly, does THE COACH call the plays? Do you trust in His game-plan and will you execute it whole-heartedly? What kind of athlete are you making yourself into, to go and win the game?
For spiritual protection today, pray in this way:
Equip me Lord with your full armor. Help me become familiar with and comfortable with every piece, so that I can be best equipped to win for you!
Help me Lord be diligent and focused in my spiritual disciplines. Help me become stronger and more resilient with Your Truth, Your Righteousness, Your Peace and Your Word permeating through my spirit.
Thank you for my brothers and sisters Lord. Help me be a strong teammate to them, and allow me to be vulnerable in my need for them.
Thank you for Your Protection Lord. Thank you for being GREATER IN ME than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). May Yours be the Victory, may Yours be the Praise, may Yours be the Glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Kaela Y.