Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen. Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer
Joel C. Seifert
When you’re little, there’s something incredibly comforting about the angels’ protection. That’s power enough to keep you safe from the thing sleeping under your bed and the monster hiding in the dark closet. No wonder we teach our children to pray those words from Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer.
Something seems to happen as we grow up. We look under the bed and realize that there wasn’t a tentacle reaching out for us. It was just an old shirt that didn’t make it into the hamper. Our lives get a little safer, more predictable.
But sometimes life reminds us that danger still lurks around us. I like to think of Psalm 91. Whoever wrote it wasn’t a kid, and he wasn’t worried about things that went bump in the night. He talked about disease and plague, being out on the battlefield as your brothers-in-arms lost their lives; he wrote of arrows flying and wild animals prowling. It reminds us we need the angels’ care.
It’s because our world is at war. An angel of God, so beautiful and powerful that he could only be described as a bearer of light—a Lucifer, if you prefer the Latin—rebelled against God and brought other angels with him. He knows he can’t defeat God, so he preys on his children. It’s been war ever since.
What opens your eyes to that war? The phone rings, and someone you love is on their either end. Their doctor didn’t use the words deadly pestilence, but saying cancer was really no different. We don’t fight battles with arrows anymore, but the 22-year old Marine knows that the Kevlar in his vest can only do so much good. The psalmist talked about the terror of night, and that seems far off until you’re driving down the highway with your family and the driver next to you swerves unexpectedly.
GOD’S ANGELS PROTECT
But there’s more to see: “If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:9-12). I think of the time my niece was on a hike deep in a state park and collapsed, unable to breathe. She was on the ground, maybe 90 seconds from death, when a man in white showed up, put his hand on her chest, and her lungs opened up again—and then he was gone.
But we might also think of the dangers we don’t experience: “No disaster will come near your tent.” “Let your holy angel be with me” is a prayer for the mother standing over her daughter’s bed because every time she lies down, she’s worried the fever won’t break. It’s for the soldier on the battlefield and the family weathering the storm. It’s for you, because God promises for the sake of Jesus Christ to send his holy angels to serve those who will inherit salvation.
And when troubles do arrive, those angels stand ready to carry us home, if that is God’s will. And the wicked foe will have no power over you.
The Christian church celebrates the Festival of St. Michael and All Angels on Sept. 29. Consider reading Psalm 91 on that day and giving thanks to God for his angels’ watchful care.
Contributing editor Joel Seifert is pastor at Shining Mountains, Bozeman, Montana.
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Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017
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