Prayer, Armor, and Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:10-20
What is the nature of spiritual warfare? What is the armor of God? Where does prayer fit in? Bereans carefully studied the Scriptures before believing that something taught was true (Acts 17:11). Let’s be good Bereans and look at Eph 6:10-20 to answer these important questions. There are too many people shadowboxing with Satan these days. Let’s focus our efforts where they belong.
Paul first encourages us to “be strong in the Lord” (v. 10). In 3:26, he explained that we are strengthened with power through the Spirit of God so that we will know the love of Christ, be filled up with the fullness of God and the power that raised Jesus from the dead. Second, he instructs us to put on the armor of God. Armor is not an offensive weapon. Armor protects from the effects of an opponent’s weapon. In this case, the armor of God enables us to stand our ground against the schemes of Satan. In short, he is always scheming to get us to believe a lie. The first lie was to get Eve to doubt that God meant what He said. He’s been lying ever since. He’s always trying to get us to believe him instead of God’s Word. The armor of God enables us to resist and stand firm in the truth of God:
- Belt of Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
- Gospel of Peace
- Shield of Faith (extinguishes the flaming arrows (lies) of the evil one)
- Helmet of Salvation
In his commentary on Ephesians (NICNT, p. 408), F.F. Bruce notes that fiery arrows were used to hit, scare, or to ignite a soldier’s wooden shield to get him to drop it and be vulnerable to spear attacks. In the spiritual realm, a shield of faith that extinguishes lies is quite advantageous.
Lastly, Paul says to be equipped with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The sword is the only piece of equipment in the list that can be used both defensively and offensively. By correctly handling the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15) we can demolish arguments that oppose God (2 Cor 10:4-6). In Eph 6:18-20, Paul did not cast prayer as a weapon. Instead he encouraged the Ephesians to pray at all times in the Spirit in order to be alert to the schemes of the enemy, to persevere, and to pray for all believers. He then asked for prayer to boldly proclaim the Gospel. The lies against God are demolished by the bold, loving proclamation of the truth.
In Eph 6:18-20 prayer is the means by which believers ask God for wisdom, perseverance, and for boldness to proclaim the Gospel which is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). In spiritual warfare our focus is not to fight Satan. Instead, it is to stand firm in the truth and advance the Gospel. The armor of God is designed to protect our hearts from the effects of the lies, and the sword of the Spirit frees the hearts of others to believe in the Gospel of Christ.
It is very important to keep three things in mind:
- Satan is outnumbered two-to-one. Only a third of the angels decided to follow him!
- God is being patient until as many people as possible can be saved.
- Christ will completely defeat Satan and his followers, but only when the time is right. He has always had that authority and power. He doesn’t need our help.
Stand strong in your faith, know the Scriptures, grow to Christlike maturity, be filled with the Spirit, pray at all times, and share the Gospel.
Yours in Christ,