Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour 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 armour 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 round 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.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Last week I started the slightly overwhelming task of weeding my parents’ front garden. Overwhelming because the soil in my parents’ garden is very light and sandy and the weeds spread very quickly across any bare patch of soil. This means that all eight of the beds in their front garden were covered in blankets of weeds surrounding and growing between the plants that were supposed to be there. Weeding is not my favourite activity in the garden, I much prefer planting, but it is a necessity if you want the garden to look at its best and you want the plants you have planted to flourish. So I was to be found, for a short period of time, each day, on my knees weeding. It wasn’t a particularly difficult task, but it required close attention as I needed to avoid pulling out any of the new growth on the ‘wanted’ plants.
One day, while I was weeding, the local Salvation Army Officer walked past me (he was delivering something to my parents’ house) and he said to me somewhat jokingly, ‘Good to see you on your knees again!’ It got me thinking about the similarity between weeding and praying.
In our reading from Ephesians we are given a list of things that we need to do in order to stay strong in the Lord. It is a very active list, if we are to remain strong we are not to be passive but we are to be active in our faith. For those of us who want lovely gardens it requires effort, it is no good planting all our plants and then just leaving it to just look after itself, if we do that then the weeds will soon take over. The same goes for our faith, we can’t expect to say that we believe and then simply sit back and expect our faith to grow. Without nurturing our faith, without reading, studying, praying and listening to God our faith will not grow, all that will grow will be weeds.
I know that when I have completed weeding my parents’ front garden the task will not be complete as by the time I finish the last bed, the first bed that I did will need doing again. It won’t however be as bad as it was and with small amounts of continued effort it will remain in good shape. A garden is never finished, the work is never done. While we are on earth the work of looking after our faith will not be finished either, only when we are in heaven will the job be done, until then we are actively to look after our faith and as it says in 1 Thessalonians we are to ‘Rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances’.
Father God, we thank you that we are able to pray to you at all times and in all circumstances. We are sorry when we forget to talk to you and when we rely on our own strength rather than on yours.