Whenever I read St Paul’s words in today’s epistle about putting on the whole armour of God I think of the prayer that is popularly known as St Patrick’s breastplate. The one that concludes:
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name, The strong Name of the Trinity; By invocation of the same. The Three in One, and One in Three, Of Whom all nature hath creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word: Praise to the Lord of my salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord
Tradition has it that he wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity. When writing the prayer he may well have had in mind those parts of St John’s Gospel (including today’s) which speak of Christ abiding in us (and us in Him). We may not feel we need a combat gear to go about our daily lives, (although many do, such as the refugees or “migrants” fleeing conflict zones) but the prayer is a reminder of our constant need for God’s protection and love as we reach out to serve our local communities.
The full version of the prayer can be found in your hymn books (326 at St Barnabas’ and 277 at St Nicholas’).