Hand-to-Hand Combat? Really?

praying_hands_hand_to_hand_combat_stickers-r4bbb52c7cfd7401ea57672a040f2ab90_v9waf_8byvr_324   I recently saw a sign outside a church that said:  “Prayer is hand-to-hand combat.”  This placard represents a common view of many Christians that we must pray diligently to keep Satan and his minions at bay, and that any slacking on our part could turn events for the worse.  This attitude says that God’s plan for the world is resting squarely on our shoulders, and that if we mess up, Satan will wreck it.

I have a number of problems with this saying.  First, I think prayer is a conversation, a back-and-forth, between us and God, and it’s the type of conversation that invokes change in us without guilt or “shoulds.”  It’s the kind of conversation that affirms who we really are, loved and accepted despite our flaws.  I don’t see prayer as a fight or even a wrestling, though any wrestling I’ve ever done in prayer has not been with God, but with my own ego and misperceptions.

Next, the idea of fighting against Satan and his minions gives the evil one more attention than is really needed.  Many Christians live their lives as if the fate of the world is still hanging in the balance, as if Satan could still possibly snatch all humanity from God’s hand.  The fate of the world, of all humanity, was sealed in Christ, and nothing that Satan could do would ever change it:

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:2-9)

            Christ trumps Satan and has included us all in himself, and we are seated with him at the right hand of the Father.  While we may still be influenced or tempted by the evil one to see ourselves as unworthy and unacceptable, our fate and the fate of world does not hang in the balance. Before the foundation of the world, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit determined that humanity would not be destroyed but restored into their fellowship.  We can rest in knowing that the salvation of the world doesn’t rest on our shoulders, but on the strong shoulders of Jesus Christ, and our prayers do not need to be a “fight,” but a simple giving of thanks for what has already been accomplished.

~by Nan Kuhlman

8 comments so far

  1. I understand how appealing it can be to see the universe primarily in terms of warfare. It’s very energizing to have foes to destroy. But my conversion to faith in the Holy Trinity has made me abandon that old worldview. The universe is primarily about love and collaboration. Enemies are not for destroying, but for embracing and including.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      John,

      I like your sentence “Enemies are not for destroying, but for embracing and including.” President Lincoln asked a question along that same line of thought: “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” I think it’s more evidence that God is in the business of transformation, not destruction.

      Nan

    • iamjean9 on

      I’ve had a similar experience, John.

  2. Pat on

    Well said both of you. I’m so glad the battle is not mine to fight. It sure does make it easier to get along with others.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Pat,

      I’m with you. It can get overwhelming when we think we must take care of the mess, but when we realize that Jesus Christ has it all under control, we can trust that all is well and recognize we have more in common with others than we ever knew.

      Nan

  3. Wanderlei on

    I like the sentence.

  4. Jeannine on

    Beautiful, Nan. I agree 100%!

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jeannine,

      I appreciate your comment!
      Nan


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