Battle Prayers

One certainly need not be in recovery from compulsive behaviors to need battle prayers, but this card is designed with people like us in mind. The St. Michael prayer dates back to Pope Leo XIII in the late 1800s.  Many legends surround the original prayer (the one used here and in common use is abbreviated) but no matter which stories about it are actually historical, the prayer has become a favorite of many both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Tradition.  It is popular among soldiers going into battle and is often used by military chaplains in such a context.

A more visceral depiction
of St. Michael fighting
our enemy the devil.
The second prayer was written in collaboration with the late Father Winfrey who was all about Ze Olde Englishe and iambic pentameter and so on.  He took my farmer words and gave them rhythm and beauty.  Many in recovery will attest to having an inner courtroom where they are judge, jury and prosecuting attorney and always win their case against others whom they resent.  Of course, that inner space must be disassembled, for a core truth and slogan of every recovery program is "If I'm disturbed, I'm the problem".  This prayer was powerful in my life as I struggled to break free from thoughts that saw everyone else as the problem, thoughts that constantly plagued me and which recovery programs call 'stinking thinking'.

The third prayer is straight out of a recovery book where it was originally phrased "Whatever it is I'm really looking for now, let me please find it in You".  It was Pastor John Winfrey again who spun this into the old poetic and rhythmic form you find on the card.  It was truly a turning point in my own recovery when this prayer took root in my soul, transforming white knuckling into a steady untwisting and redirecting of legitimate God hunger. 

The fourth prayer on the card is a one of many surrender prayers composed on the farm, distilled directly from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  If any one bit of stinking thinking ever got stuck in my head, it was that I deserved to be understood.  I was desperate in fact for people to understand and even approve of my views, my spirituality, my way of life, etc.  It is quite freeing when I can surrender that obsession.  Jesus understands and that is more than enough.  It is then that I can focus on understanding others and serve them with compassion.

Lastly, the slogans are taken from The Big Book of AA and other twelve step literature.  They often prove to be quite infectious and transformative in their own little way.

All of these prayers and slogans have in common the counterintuitive notion that in order to fight and win the battle we must surrender every thought of doing it in our own power.  This is very much countercultural and so living in this manner takes a lot of reminding and reinforcement.  Such prayers get prayed and shared so much that it seemed smart to make this portable version of a small selection of favorites.  If it blesses and helps one person, it is more than worth it to include it here on the farm!

If you really want a fun deep dive into more battle prayers, to The Battle Page where I pair up various songs recorded in the last couple decades with an appropriate Psalm. To Arms! is another blog the farmer posted in a similar vein. 

Below are the prayers from the card plus some that I find helpful even though they didn't make it onto the card.


St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

O Lord my God who art mighty in battle
I beseech Thee to be Thou quick to mine aid
and defend me who am pow’rless
'gainst the thoughts which do plague me
and put an end to the foes of my mind and my soul.

Whatsoever my heart now truly doth seek
Lord lettest Thou me please find it in Thee

I surrender my need to be understood
And beseech Thee the grace to understand others

I can’t but God can and will
I lead with my weakness
I surrender to win
The way up is down
My power is in admitting I’m powerless

Psalm 3
A Psalm of David. When He Fled from the Face of Abessalom His Son, in the Wilderness.
O Lord, why are they multiplied that afflict me?  Many rise up against me. 
Many say unto my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God. 
But Thou, O Lord, art my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. 
I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain. 
I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord will help me. 
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that set themselves against me round about. 
Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God, for Thou hast smitten all who without cause are mine enemies; the teeth of sinners hast Thou broken. 
Salvation is of the Lord, and Thy blessing is upon Thy people.

Psalm 100: 7-8
The proud doer dwelt not in the midst of my house; the speaker of unjust things prospered not before mine eyes.  
In the morning I slew all the sinners of the land, utterly to destroy out of the city of the Lord all them that work iniquity.

Compass me about, O Lord, with the power of thy precious and life-giving Cross and preserve me from every evil. May it be unto me a weapon of peace and a trophy invincible.

Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ at my left
Christ at my right
Christ above me
Christ below me
Christ in my heart
To rule my mind
Christ shield my eyes
Christ guard my lips
Christ guide my ears
And my body
Christ around me
Christ within me
And one with me

Psalm 143:1-2
Blessed is the Lord my God, Who teacheth my hands for battle and my fingers for war. My mercy and my refuge, my helper and my deliverer, My defender is He; and in Him have I hoped, Who subjected my people under me.

[Prayer of St. Benedict]
Be gone Satan
Never tempt me with your vanities
What you offer me is evil
Drink the poison yourself
May the Holy Cross be my light
May the dragon never be my overlord

Angel of God, my holy guardian, given me by God to protect me, I pray thee earnestly; enlighten me this day; from all harm shield me; toward good advise me; and on the path of salvation guide me. 

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