Strategies for Putting on the Whole Armor of God

    Armor

    In the Come, Follow Me “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” for September 30 to October 13, we are invited to read Ephesian 6:10-18 (see also Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18) and consider answering the following questions: “What will the “whole armor of God” protect us from?” and “What can you do to more fully put on each piece of armor each day?” As I pondered these two questions, some powerful memories and impressions came to my mind.

    Protection from What?

    For example, years ago an acquaintance was excommunicated. He was a returned missionary, temple married, with a good job and serving in a bishopric. He had a lovely wife and sweet family. I was deeply saddened for them. I prayed they would be comforted through this trial and that he would find his way back. I wanted to know how he could have strayed. Was there a lesson there for me?

    For several weeks I prayed with a sincere heart, having faith in Christ (Moroni 10:4). I intended to act on the information I was seeking. Then a distinct impression came clearly to my mind: “He wasn’t praying every morning and evening. He had quit studying the scriptures each day. He did not keep a daily journal, recording instances of My hand in his life. In other words, he wasn’t putting on My whole armor—and neither are you, Gary!”

    couple
    Brother and Sister Bikman

    Why Is Daily Protection Needed?

    Those words pierced my soul—personal insight and a warning from a loving Father in Heaven. I repented quickly and began doing those three things: having daily prayers, reading the scriptures, and keeping a journal of spiritual experiences. I noticed a change. It became more obvious to me how often the Lord was helping me each day. I recognized and responded to promptings from the Spirit more quickly. The Lord has promised us, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2).

    The new Come, Follow Me resources emphasize and encourage the importance of documenting what we are learning: “Recording spiritual impressions will help you remember what you learn during scripture study. You might write in a study journal, make notes in the margins of your scriptures, add notes in your Gospel Library app, or make an audio recording of your thoughts” (New Testament 2019: Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, [study manual, 2019], 146).

    By praying, studying the scriptures, and keeping a journal daily, my relationships with loved ones improved. My service in the Church was more effective. Business research and activities were beginning to be more focused and I was making better decisions. I was learning the truth of God’s promise, “the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10).

    Lehi's dream

    While discussing this experience and the changes I was making in my life, two very inspired friends shared additional insights. One suggested that service and physical exercise would also be “armor.” As King Benjamin taught, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). The Lord has also promised that all who obey His commandments “shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18).

    The other friend said, “Daily association with friends of high standards” should help you avoid temptations and have the strength and support to resist the unavoidable tests and trials. As the Prophet Joseph Smith was told while imprisoned in Liberty jail, “Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:9). The Spirit confirmed the wisdom of their counsel.

    visiting the sick

    So, for me, these are six pieces of spiritual armor that I do daily:

    1. Twice daily prayer.

    2. Daily scripture study (not just reading).

    3. Making entries in a journal every day.

    4. Daily acts of service and kindness.

    5. Daily physical exercise.

    6. Associating regularly with friends of high standards—of all faiths.

    Am I perfect at it? Of course, I am not. I struggle with exercising. The other five habits, however, are a regular part of my everyday life. I have learned that because we are dual-natured—have a body and a spirit—it is vital that both receive appropriate nourishment each day. I could not stay physically healthy if I fasted six days and then gorged myself at a three-hour banquet on the seventh day. I could not stay spiritually healthy on that “diet” either.

    I doubt anyone has every decided to leave the Church following this regimen. It has certainly helped me maintain perspective, avoid serious sin, and learn from the challenges and setbacks that are an inevitable part of our mortal experience. I share them here with you for your consideration, with a suggestion. Try them for 30 days. What is the worst that could happen?

    1. Your testimony might get stronger?

    2. Your relationships might improve?

    3. You might feel closer to the Lord and recognize His hand in your life?

    4. Your prayers may contain real examples of things you’re grateful for?

    5. You might have better friends?

    You may find an inner peace and calm—a perspective on the challenging and distracting voices or forces trying to lead you astray.

    Jesus Christ

    When we pray and study the scriptures, it is like we are putting on spiritual armor that helps keep us safe. We keep our minds focused on living righteously. We are enabled to make good choices, even when things are hard. When we choose the right, we are blessed with spiritual strength. As we love God with all our hearts and strive to keep His commandments, the Spirit helps us when we face bad or hard things. By following the footsteps of Jesus Christ and putting on His spiritual armor, His great atoning sacrifice will make it possible for us to live again with Him someday.