The armor of God, from Ephesians 6, has fueled many a Sunday school lesson. Sets of plastic swords and shields give the young saint practice warding off the fiery darts of the enemy. But do we run the risk of trivializing the significance by making it a child’s toy?
One Christmas, my husband and I worked together to make our sons their own personal sets of spiritual armor. We wanted our boys to play out the truths we were trying to teach them. We desired them to practice warfare as boys, in order to have experience to draw from as adults. He built shields and swords from wood. I sewed cloth breastplates and belts from a pattern.
How did it actually work out?
Well … the boys wielded their Swords of the Spirit, but usually in combination with plastic machine guns and Davy Crockett hats in imaginary wars that crossed the time/historic era continuum. Their “armor” lasted for years and provided hours of play, though I can’t vouch that any deep spiritual lessons were learned.
You might also question the wisdom of a mom and dad who voluntarily hand their three active sons semi-pointed, wooden swords, expecting no one to lose an eye or need stitches. Thankfully, by the kindness of Jesus, our spiritual armor required no emergency room runs.
Ahhh, the naiveté of spiritually zealous parents. Good motives but definitely questionable discernment of second and third level results.
When I reflect on the ways I tried to teach my kids about the importance of spiritual armor, I realize I left out the most important lesson. I explained that as Christians we have an enemy. I told them to fight their enemy with their armor. But, I never taught them HOW to fight.
The Believers' Armor
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:14-17 lists six distinct pieces of armor:
belt of truth
breastplate of righteousness
shoes of the gospel of peace
shield of faith
helmet of salvation
sword of the Spirit (word of God)
As Believers, we own all this armor we’re supposed to put on, but then what? A Roman soldier wouldn’t strap his breastplate on just to take a stroll through the daisies. It was his protection as he went into battle.
That’s why anyone puts armor on. To FIGHT.
Alright- that sounds good, but HOW do we fight with our armor?
Before we answer the HOW question, there are a few important points to make:
We aren’t fighting each other, but rather “spiritual forces of evil.”
Ephesians 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Each and every piece of armor matters so we must “take up the whole armor of God.”
Ephesians 6:13a- Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
We stand. Stationery. Unmoving. Stalwart.
Ephesians 6:13b- and having done all, to stand firm.
Isn’t that last point interesting? The Lord doesn’t just throw us against the enemy, like the wars of old where opposing armies sent masses of infantry against one another. Once the dust settled, the army with most soldiers still living, won. Instead, our position is standing firm.
Now, if you read last week’s blog you may be wondering, “What about all that talk on offensive prayer, Susan? Standing doesn’t sound like I’m taking the offense against my enemy. It sounds like I’m NOT engaging in the fight.”
The Lord often works opposite of the logic of man. He gives us the tools to pray offensively, yet He doesn’t order us to march and attack. He instructs us to stand. But He’s not finished
In Ephesians 6:18 we receive our last instruction. We finally learn the HOW and the WHERE for using all our lovely armor.
Ephesians 6:18- praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
How do we fight? We PRAY.
In many Bible versions verse 17 flows right into verse 18 without a period at the end of 6:17. There’s no interruption to the flow.
We’re to buckle on truth, don the breastplate of righteous, and tie on our shoes of the gospel. Then we grab our shield of faith with one hand and put the helmet of salvation on with the other. After it’s secure, we use that hand to grasp the hilt of the sword of the Word.
Then we STAND.
And then we PRAY. At all times. With ALL prayer. Alertly, vigilantly, and persistently.
Praying IS fighting.
Somehow, in all the times I’d read and studied these passages, I’d missed the intimate connection of the armor and prayer. How do I take it to the enemy? I bury myself in the protection of the Lord and His truth, and then I PRAY.
Why Does This Matter?
At times, I’ve tired of praying. My prayers felt powerless, bumping like a helium balloon against the ceiling, never making it the heavenlies. How do I combat this impotence?
Remembering to put on my Ephesians 6 armor is my battle plan now!
I dive back into Jesus, wrap myself in His truth and protect my heart with His righteousness. My stumbling feet find support in the gospel, so I can stand while shielding myself with the faith and hope of salvation. Then I take up the Word and ask the Lord Who Answers Every Prayer to show me His heart.
The Armor cures anemic prayers. The Armor slays fear and doubt. The Armor defends me from the enemy’s arrows, while it launches offensive attacks into the enemy’s camp.
I invite you to join me. Let’s suit up. Get our armor on. Stand behind our Captain. Stand and pray. THAT is what our armor is for!
What change would occur in your prayer life if you suited up in the Armor before you prayed? Leave a comment below.
All Scripture from ESV. Emphasis added.