Recall with me that richly devotional passage, Psalm 53:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Let’s change the wording and context of the verse, O.K.? Reimagine it being prayed to…Satan. That’s right, our adversary. Now you will be able to understand what you’re about to see in the following clip.
One of the most riveting scenes for me in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was when Kylo Ren, the bad guy, prayed to his deceased grandfather, Darth Vader, asking his forgiveness. It was attention-grabbing because…well, watch it for yourself.
Was that not eerie? Did it not turn the purpose of prayer, as you understand it, on its head? We’ve been taught ‘Deliver us from evil’, not ‘Create in me a dark heart’. The human heart generally attempts to be good, but there is another kind of yearning. The evening news too often tells of malevolence somewhere around us or crouched and waiting to spring.
How Dark the Night!
Paul was emphatic about it: we’re caught in the throes of an unseen cosmic battle between Christ and dark powers. Rulers and authorities and forces of evil is how he describes it in Ephesians 6:12. They are the inventors and motivators of human sorrow, of murderers and despots and terrorists, of political despondency and opportunism and ongoing war—all enacted to ruin humanity and ultimately keep souls bound in sin to be destroyed.
Recently I read an intriguing article that hints at this evil. It is written about the famed and former ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, Andrew White. He reestablished St. George’s Church in Baghdad in 2003. It was the sole Anglican church in the country, established there in 1864 but shut down by Saddam Hussein in 1991 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. White reopened the church and grew it to over 6,500 Iraqis and expatriates.
White explains that in the Middle East religion must be part of any political solution because the worldview places religion at the center of every facet of life. So being a true statesman, his custom was to periodically facilitate dinners with faith leaders of other religions, who would come and dialogue. It worked well, too. But when he invited leaders of the Islamic State (ISIS), they vowed to come—and chop his head off.
Ride On, King Jesus!
Ours must be a determination to be filled with God’s light, refusing darkness. And it is especially a standing call to prayer, Spirit-empowered prayer that will route out evil. Unlike Star Wars there is no dualism involved. This is not God versus the Devil and a wait for an outcome. We march behind our King with the victory in tow. I get the sense that there is so much more to this cosmic drama than we can now see. But thank God that our prayers are powerful through Christ, able to demolish all strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4).