Ephesians 6:18-19a

In Ephesians 6:18-19a Paul now gives us the secret to using the armor of God – that which we have (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace) – and that which we are to take (shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the spirit) – which comes down to prayer. That is the means by which God’s power comes into the battle. “To that end, keep alert with all perseverance.” This translation is not as descriptive as some others which say ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit’. Paul tells the Ephesian church that the armor is necessary but it is prayer that gives it the power to deal with the enemy.

The idea is all that we should use all kinds of prayer or prayer upon prayer. We should use every kind of prayer we can think of. Group prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, shouting prayer, walking prayer, kneeling prayer, eloquent prayer, groaning prayer, constant prayer, fervent prayer – just pray. We can say that it is through prayer that spiritual strength and the armor of God go to work. In theory, the prayerless Christian can be strong and wearing all the armor; but never accomplishes anything because he fails to goes into battle through prayer. The battle is not ours, but God’s, and prayer is how we bring God into that fight. Otherwise we walk into it in our own strength and will fail.

Often we just don’t pray because we are simply overconfident in our own abilities. Winston Churchill said to Britain in the early days of the Second World War: “I must drop one word of caution, for next to cowardice and treachery, overconfidence leading to neglect and slothfulness, is the worst of wartime crimes.” Paul goes further with his admonition to pray reminding us that we can battle spiritually not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of others. The soldier isn’t only concerned for his or her own safety. He feels an instinct to protect and to battle on behalf of others. We are part of the body and need to do battle together, which means we need to be praying for one another.

To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me….”.  Paul not only reminds us to pray for each other but also for our leaders in the body. Paul was an amazingly spiritual guy, and yet even he knew that doing battle with the enemy was beyond what any of us can do on our own. So we need to lift one another up, as well as encourage each other to put on the armor of God so we are ready to stand. That means we challenge each other around our intake of God’s Word, our prayer life, the depth of our faith, and all the other facets of wearing the armor of God. It is important that we have brothers and sisters who are fully prepared and equipped, and are seeking God’s power to enable a victory in battle.

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