In Ephesians 6, Paul gives us a list of armor that all believers are called to wear when preparing for spiritual battle. He uses traditional pieces of armor as a way to illustrate how we are to arm ourselves as Christians against the enemy. This list includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
He concludes his list with the following verse:
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. – Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
Growing up in the church, I’ve been a part of many studies regarding the armor of God. But I must admit that many of them did not include this final plea. Paul gives us a list of armor to wear in verses 14-17, but verse 18 tells us what to do once we put it on – pray.
For believers, prayer is the means by which we fight our spiritual battles.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
The enemy never sleeps. This is why Paul pleads with us in verse 18 to always be praying – to stay alert and to be persistent in our prayer life.
I have a confession to make. For most of my life, my prayers have been all about me. I’ve asked God for His mercy, His protection, His provision… not even realizing that my prayer life has been entirely self-focused.
Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to pray for these things. He desires to bless us and to meet our physical needs. But it’s time for me to grasp the reality that I’m missing out on a vital aspect of prayer.
If prayer really has the power to move mountains, why am I so focused on myself and my petty needs?
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. What I find interesting about this prayer is that Jesus prays for the kingdom first and foremost. Then he addresses His own needs. He concludes His prayer by praying against temptation and evil – something I often neglect in my own prayer life.
If prayer is the primary way we fight spiritual battles, it’s time to grow and expand in the way we pray.
We are called as believers to be unified in Christ. We are the church – God’s holy Kingdom. It’s time our prayers become more Kingdom-minded. After all, isn’t that what Jesus prayed at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer? Paul pleaded with us in Ephesians 6:18 to pray for all believers everywhere. We are a family, and it’s time we start praying like one.
One final thought: Our battle as believers is not against flesh and blood. In other words, our battle is not against the people of this world but against the unseen powers of darkness. God doesn’t need us to defend Him to other people. And He doesn’t need us to fight culture wars by condemning the world and saying hurtful things to make our point.
It’s time to harness our anger and frustration with sin and put it to good use on the real battle field.
It’s time to pray.