Originally posted at Livejournal 21st October 2010
I’ve never really been in to the whole ‘angels’ thing, certainly not in the form of cute wish-granting children or even – after my recent experience reading Lauren Kate’s Fallen books – as (predictably) gorgeous American teenagers. However, call me someone who’s spent far too much time in Middle Earth, but terrifying seven foot tall sword-wielding heavenly beings is a concept that I can easily get my head around.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading Frank E Peretti’s 1986 book This Present Darkness; a book I was recommended to read in 2001 by my Alpha Course leader. But in true Rachel fashion, I never got around to it. That is until now, when my prayer partner Monica, who had also been on that course in 2001, pulled the latest chick lit blockbuster out of my hands, replaced it with Peretti and said, ‘read this. Now!’ I dutifully complied, she’s scary in full flight!
I knew what it was about, it’s about the gigantic spiritual battle for a small American town waged by demonic forces. It has the worst opening chapter of any book I’ve ever read, but beyond that it unwraps into a gloriously compelling thriller, in which you can play a wonderful game of spot the Bible passage. Bits of the story play out and your head goes – or at least mine does – ‘ooh that’s 1 Timothy 5:20!’ Yes, I’m odd like that…
This book isn’t really for non-Christians. I think, before I was baptised and started taking the Bible seriously in my life, I’d have struggled to read it as just a casual church-goer. This is mainly because there’s a shocking amount of Christian ‘in-jargon’ in it. Interestingly, had I read in back in 2001 I’d most likely not have even got a third of the way through it for that very reason. I had no clue what it all meant back then, but now I do. I’m also slightly more mature in my faith and can see the bigger picture that Peretti is conveying without imagining some scaly, sulphur-breathing dragon called ‘greed’ with his claws clamped around my stomach. There may however be one, so I’ve taken the precaution of rebuking it and told it to go in the name of Jesus – just in case.
That the angels draw power to fight the forces of evil from the prayers of the saints is a concept in the book I really connected with. By saints I mean ordinary-Joe praying Christians, not anyone special to whom miracles can be attributed or who shows up at the 13th hole of a Galway golf course.* Over the last two weeks, that in particular has been responsible for a heck of a lot more prayer going in from me!
I really liked the way Peretti wrote about the stirrings in the spirits of the faithful Christians who could feel that burden to pray when the battle was on a knife-edge. Oh I’ve been there and felt that call to prayer – it physically hurts!
If you’re a Christian I’d recommend you read the book. It might not ‘be your thing’ in terms of what you’d normally read, but certainly it does put into a rather cracking novel the following verse from the Bible:
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. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
But make sure you don’t stop at verse 12… Find a Bible and go and read the next bit down to verse 18. I love that bit!
Sword of the Spirit at the ready!
*Yes, I’ve been watching too much Father Ted.
Rachel J Lewis | 21st October 2010