In the daily practice of praying on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), there has been a significant solidification of my emotional state, giving a growing stability that is very encouraging.
This is not a self-centered focus, but is believing and accepting what God says about us; it is living in the light of His love rather than in self-condemnation, vague shame and the natural negative self-thoughts that Satan wants me to dwell on. I have always been critical of and dissatisfied with myself, never believing I can measure up, but this is fading as I see more and more of God’s total forgiveness and love.
In this, the Lord is building in me an emotionally healthy independence from others—I no longer feel obligated to be influenced and controlled by others negative emotions. And He is also developing an emotionally healthy, deeper dependence on Himself. The growing grasp of His unshifting character, manifested in His love, acceptance and graciousness, is the rock upon which I can rest. In the light of this, I actually like myself now!
Following is part of what I pray in putting on the belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness. In this, I do not just say the words, I seek to enter into the truths emotionally, letting myself feel both sides (negative and positive) and choose to rest in the warm and rich goodness of His love for me. Try it yourself, praying this each day for a month and see what a difference it makes for you!
“Help me, Lord, to stand today having on the belt of truth. On one side is the truth that all I deserve as a sinner is failure, frustration, depression, despair, hopelessness, punishment, suffering and death.
“But you, in your gracious love, have redeemed me, cleansed me, called me into your waiting arms, made me your child, brought me into your family and into your Kingdom of light, of love and life. You have given me forgiveness, joy and peace. You have given me purpose, protection and provision. You have given me meaning, hope and a future. In you I am chosen, holy and dearly loved (Col. 3:12). I did not choose you, but you chose me because you wanted me! (John 15:16).
“You, Lord Jesus, love me as the Father loves you! (John 15:9): wholeheartedly, unconditionally, enthusiastically, joyfully, eternally! You are glad when I come into your presence in prayer, you laugh with pleasure when we are together and you rejoice in having me as your child. You saved me because you delight in me (Ps. 18:19).
“Help me to put on the breastplate of righteousness. In doing this, I agree to forgive myself as you have forgiven me, to accept myself and to love myself as you do. I choose to bask in your wholehearted approval and acceptance of me; I agree to rejoice in your unceasing love for me; I commit to reveling in your rich and eager embracing of me as your beloved child.
“While eagerly confessing any sin and receiving your forgiveness, I repent of being critical, negative and unaccepting of myself. I exchange these for your garment of approval, your covering of love and your continuous warm, happy, gracious embracing of me as your dear and valued child, chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before you in love! (Eph. 1:4).
“What a wonder! I praise you for your great and gracious goodness, your marvelous and magnificent kindness and your unending, undying, eternal love for me. Help me to walk in the light of your warm and wonderful presence throughout today, obeying you in all and loving myself as you love me, so I can better love my neighbor.”