O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
As I pray this prayer this week, I think of an old friend who years ago lay wasting away on a hospital bed. I had been his pastor for some time. He had been one of those men who showed up to help on work days, always cheerful and always ready to lend a hand. Now, we all knew that he had weeded his last flowerbed, at least on this side of eternity. He would never again fix that leaky faucet in the men’s bathroom. I doubt the faucets ever leak in heaven. The illness which would take his life had laid waste to his body, but his mind remained with him. More importantly, his faith remained with him. He had come, in these final weeks of his life, to long for Jesus.
We pray in this prayer that God, by His mighty power, would defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body. How is it that my friend lay stricken in his body? Had God not heard this prayer for my friend? Hardly, but he planned to defend him from this disease and death itself by resurrection. That is the moment God uses his mighty power to defend, rescue, and save my friend.
We also ask that God defend us from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul. These are surely the greater but more subtle threats to us. The Lord surrounded my friend with a faithful spouse, good friends, loving children. He was still subject to all the frailties of our human condition, temptations to self-centeredness, covetous greed, and anxious fears. But God had steeled him and protected him. Baptismal promises, incarnate Word, and a net of Christian fellowship had protected him and caught him when he stumbled. He peacefully breathed his last in faith and we rejoiced and wept at his funeral. God hears this prayer. Pray it earnestly.