Over the last several years, I have been captivated by the armor of God teaching in Ephesians 6. Part of it is the great battle imagery that comes to mind when I read about the helmet, shield, sword, etc. What boy hasn’t been enamored by the notion of donning a shiny suit of armor bristling with spikes, emblazoned with his kingdom’s crest and mounting his trusty steed to ride off into battle and glory? Another thing that percolates regularly in the recesses of my mind (you knew I would bring coffee into this, didn’t you?) is the puzzle of taking the beautiful, image-rich text of that passage and translating it into practical life. This difficulty first hit me when I taught on the armor of God at our Jr. Camp two summers ago. I find myself again teaching on the subject in a fun class where I’m having the kids build armor out of cardboard and duct tape while also soaking up God’s Word.
I noticed something a couple weeks ago which I have come to see as absolutely clutch to the teaching, but which for most of my life I have mostly ignored. (Shame on me.) Don’t worry; it’s not some secret code or anything. I’m not smart enough for that. It’s just the verse that comes right at the end of the passage which seems to generally be left out of the party when it comes to talking about the armor of God. Verse 18 says “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Prayer plays a critical role in our obtaining/wearing/using the armor of God. I’ve been piling through this great book by R.C. Sproul recently entitled How Then Shall We Worship?. The chapter I read today seemed to be one of those great God moments where He helps you see something from a new perspective. It was a chapter about prayer. Sproul mentions the time when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple. Luke records it this way:
Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’ “
My perception for a lot of my life was that tabernacle worship and subsequently temple worship was more about sacrifice than anything else. Sproul comments “Jesus did not call the temple a house of sacrifices or a house of preaching. He called it a house of prayer. The temple’s chief designation was that it was to be the focal point of the nation and of the people for prayer.” You see, when it comes to how prayer relates to the pieces of the armor of God (truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation and the Word of God), it is not an additional piece. Prayer is how we use the armor! Prayer is an open line of communication with our Maker, our Savior, our God. It is expressed in so many ways: in corporate gatherings, by a family with joined hands before a meal, in silent, desperate breaths during a crucial moment, in our hearts during our routine comings and goings as we walk with the Spirit. I think these are the sorts of things the apostle Paul had in mind when he said “pray continually” in his first letter to the Thessalonian church. God is expanding my point of view regarding prayer. Rather than thinking of prayer as a formal thing a pastor does in church or as the thing we have to do in order to begin eating a meal, we need to think of it more like breath. I need to be breathing in and breathing out prayer, in all occasions with all kinds of requests, continually relating with Jesus in each part of my day. In this way I hope to be fitted with a helmet, a shield, a strong belt, breastplate and a double-edged sword with which I may claim victory in my life through the power of Jesus Christ himself, the very power that raised him from the dead! Walk with me, brothers and sisters. To victory!
Author: Pastor Jonathan Blycker