A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:10-13 (NLT)
Austin pulled the zipper on his coat up tight around his neck and buried his head like a turtle. Stuffing his un-gloved hands in his pocket, he braced for another gust of wind. Dad had warned him. He told him the wind was blustery this morning and it would be cold. He told him to put on an extra layer.
But Austin hadn’t listened. They’d had such a mild winter so far and the weatherman that morning had said it was 34 degrees. But Austin hadn’t factored in the wind. As another gust of arctic air blew against his hatless head, Austin knew he had left the house that morning unprepared. He hadn’t put on that extra layer.
There were other things that Austin was neglecting to put on, too. When Mom had first left, he had joined his dad and older sister in prayer for her. Dad had told him how important prayer was and that they were showing love to Mom when they prayed for her. And Austin had believed. He had believed that God could do anything and he knew that if they only prayed enough, she would come home.
But things hadn’t worked out that way and Mom wasn’t home yet. Austin had sort of given up on his prayers. But Dad and his sister continued to pray. They prayed the armor of God every morning on their family. They prayed that the Lord would keep them all safe. They prayed that He would touch and change their mother’s heart and that she would come home to the Lord and to their family.
Austin’s dad had told him how important it was to put on an extra layer of prayer every morning. He said it was a way to let the Lord know that they loved Him and that they wanted Him to be with them that day. It was a way to have peace in the midst of the turmoil that was their life right now. Praying the armor of God was like putting a shield in place with the Lord standing between us and that which would harm us. It didn’t mean that bad things wouldn’t happen. But it did mean that the Lord was with us when they did and would help us get through it; even turn it around for good.
Just like he had neglected to put on that extra layer of clothes this morning, Austin had also neglected to put on the armor of God. As he walked, Austin felt the chill of the wind through his jacket and the chill of walking away from prayer in his heart. Something was drawing him to pray. So he did. With each step he took, Austin prayed. He prayed for his dad and for his mom. He prayed for his sister. He prayed for his friends at school and for other children who were going through what he was.
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. Luke 18:1 (NLT)
And Austin prayed for himself. He prayed that the Lord would forgive him for walking away from prayer, for not putting on that extra layer, for not “bundling up” with the Word of God. He prayed that the Lord would help him always remember that Jesus was walking beside him.
As he rounded the corner of the last block, the lights from his school came into view. He was glad to see them but then something strange came to his mind. Since he had started praying on his walk, the biting wind seemed to have relented and he was no longer as cold. He wasn’t sure if the warmth had come from the weather or from inside his heart. He was just grateful for it.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
A Stander in Nebraska