How to find a little light and comfort when fear or anxiety strikes.
Posted in , Oct 26, 2017
My youngest grandchildren—ages three and five—are afraid of the dark. They find the glow of a nightlight comforting when they climb into bed and lay down their heads.
I’m not so different, myself. I don’t use a nightlight, but I do find a little light comforting amid the darkness and misery that seems to surround us and assail us these days, from news of wildfires, hurricanes, and floods to shootings and other corrupt and hateful behaviors. When it gets to be too much, as it often does, I turn to prayer—and, in particular to these prayers.
The first is a lighthearted verse I’ve prayed sometimes with my children and grandchildren, especially at this time of year when trick-or-treaters and pranksters roam. It’s a traditional Scottish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
I’ll sometimes incorporate the words of the prophet Isaiah, quoted in Matthew’s Gospel, into a hopeful prayer to counter darkness and death:
Thank you, God, that “the people who live in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those living in the land of the shadow of death,
a light has dawned….[for] the kingdom of heaven has come near” (from Matthew 4:15-16, CSB).
The prayer Jesus taught His disciples includes a wonderful prayer against the forces of darkness, both within and without:
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13, ESV).
And Zechariah’s prayer, from Luke’s Gospel:
Dawn from on high…visit us
to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:78, CSB).
This prayer is drawn from Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John:
Jesus, You are the light of the world; fulfill Your promise that anyone who follows You will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life (John 8:12, NIV).
Paul’s words from the letter to the Romans provide a prayer against the deeds of darkness:
The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. [Grant that we may] put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and [not] make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:12-14, NIV).
Finally, I have committed this prayer, based on Paul’s words in Ephesians, to memory, so that I can pray it often when darkness seems to surround and abound:
Let me be strengthened by You, Lord and by Your vast strength. Grant that I may put on the full armor of God so that I can stand against the schemes of the devil, knowing that my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason, help me to take up the full armor of God, so that I may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take my stand. Let me stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around my waist, righteousness like armor on my chest, and my feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation, let me take up the shield of faith with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, taking also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. Amen (based on Ephesians 6:10-17, NIV).
These seven powerful prayers are just a beginning, of course. But I recommend them, and even suggest memorizing them, if possible, so they can be called upon in every situation, at a moment’s notice, “with all perseverance,” as the apostle wrote (Ephesians 6:18, NIV).
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