There’s a catchphrase in the Christian journaling community: War Binder. This is an outgrowth of the popular movie, War Room. Disclaimer: I haven’t seen it, but my mom told me about every bit of it.
I have, though, read one of the actor’s, Priscilla Schirer’s, book Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer. While I was a little iffy about a few parts of it, I enjoyed and grew from it enough to read through it a second time, and I expect a third and fourth.
A War Binder is a faith or prayer notebook. It’s a place to house written prayers, Scripture to pray over, and any other bits and bobs we find applicable to our spiritual lives and faith journeys. War Binder.
I get that it’s spiritual warfare, but this term still hung me up for quite a while. With hatred, destruction, cruelty, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, misogyny, fear, and lies knocking on our door everyday, the word WAR wound into my prayer journal made me uncomfortable and downright indignant. At a time when young white men are radicalized into domestic terrorists, the president incites violence and anger, and a lot of stuff is basically a garbage fire, it doesn’t seem like the time to work war into my everyday life. There’s enough war.
Ephesians 6:10-18 New International Version (NIV)
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
These verses from Ephesians have been working on me.
If ever there was a time to see evil at work in the world, this is it. I also realize every generation says that, but let’s be honest that many of the shitstorms swirling are pretty new for most of us. Or maybe we’re just waking up to the realization and the growing intensity.
Either way, my gut associates war with proactive killing, one of the reasons I felt a negative association with War Binder. War is happening. Not just elsewhere, on someone else’s soil, but right here in the United States against immigrant families, black bodies, women’s bodies, Muslims, LGBTQ+ folks. They’ve been the victims of war for a long, long time.
In reading these passages from Ephesians, I begin to conceptualize war a little differently. Armor indicates a defensive, protective mechanism, as well as the ability to move and act within that protective layer. We have to gird ourselves against hatred and injustice. We have to move to fight it. We have to be able to run into the fray with our prayer, our voices, our bodies.
There’s not a day that goes by, as I’m texting voters for my Senate candidate’s campaign, that someone doesn’t call me a sheep and a whore. A liberal cunt. It’s a lot less than many others endure, but it stings. At first it made me sick to my stomach. Now, it’s a good day if it only happens once.
…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
We have to protect ourselves. We have to protect our hearts and souls from cynicism and hopelessness. We have to mobilize. We have to be proactive. We must continue to love humbly and openly. It takes armor.
We are at war.