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Part Thirteen

The Believer’s Armor and the Spiritual Battle

Ephesians 6:10-20 (Verse 18, “Praying Always...”)

Ephesians 6:18-20

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.

For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I my speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Up until this point in our study we have learned that in order to stand in this spiritual battle we are to:

Have our loins girt about with truth (v14),

Have on the breastplate of righteousness (v14),

Have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (v15),

Take the shield of faith (v16),

Take the helmet of salvation (v17), and

Take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (v16).

Some sermons on this topic have required the application of these six items of armor, then assumed that that is the conclusion of the matter. To be properly equipped we must also consider verses 18-20, as they include important resources and purposes necessary for the inclusion of the armor and the promise of victory.

“Praying” is not individual piece of armor that we stick on at the end. It is an operation which bathes the whole process of putting on the armor and standing in the battle. Praying should be a pattern of everyday life for the Believer. The word “praying” in this verse is a participle, not a verb. This clause of a long sentence (v14-20) starts in verse 17 and literally is telling us to take these items mentioned and while taking them to be in the process of prayer and watching.

What is prayer? The Greek word comes from two words that simply mean, “toward a wish or desire.” In its simplest definition it means, “asking God for something you want.” Prayer in the Bible is talking to God (silently or out loud) and asking for desires or needs of ourselves and others. We are also told in various places to praise Him, offer thanks and to confess our sins. If prayer is asking for something, then answered prayer is receiving that for which you asked.

Since we have access to this power to use for God’s glory we should then seek God’s wisdom in what to ask and how to pray (See Ps. 106:15 and context). His instructions to us are found in His Word. We are commanded to be controlled by God’s Holy Spirit (Gal.5:16; Eph. 5:18). He always leads according to His Word and never contrary to it. We should then diligently study God’s Word (II Tim. 2:15) for the assurance that we are not being influenced by spirits that are not of God (I Tim. 4:1). One precious promise concerning prayer and God’s Holy Spirit is found in Rom. 8:26, where we are told that He helps together with us in our weakness and makes intercession for us because we do not know for what we should pray.  

Two major reasons for unanswered prayer are given in James 4:3,4. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

The two reasons addressed here are for unanswered prayer are:

1. We do not ask.

2. We ask for the wrong motives.

We not only have access to this power but we are commanded to continually engage in prayer. In Luke 11:1, one of Jesus’ disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray...” Part of Jesus’ answer was to start praying. He then presented two parables with lessons concerning the necessity of consistency in prayer and the qualities of the One to Whom we pray. In Luke 18:2-8 Jesus tells a parable which illustrates that “men ought always to pray and faint not” (v 1). We are told in I Thess. 5:17, to “Pray without ceasing.

Why the emphasis on constant prayer? “Without faith it is impossible to please God...” (Heb. 11:6:), and “...whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). This may be a major reason for prayer. Prayer is not only an act of obedience but an act of faith. God has bought and paid for us (I Cor 6:19,20) and He now wants us to be God-sufficient for His glory, not self-sufficient for our glory (II Cor. 3:5; 12:9). This is contrary to human nature and all the humanistic philosophy which is dumped upon us today.

In my own Christian growth I frequently can visualize results of eternal value when I diligently study God’s Word, sacrificially give to minister to other believers, or boldly share the gospel with an unsaved person. Though this is certainly an accurate assumption and we cannot underestimate or detract from obedience to clear admonitions such as these, why do I sometimes not feel the same about prayer as I do about other forms of service?

Maybe it is because of my pride. Prayer is hard work but I do not seem to be accomplishing anything by my power. When I am doing something, I may think that I am kind of helping God along with my “marvelous” efforts and talents. When I pray, it seems that I am not doing anything. I am seeking God to do something. That offends my sinful pride because I am then trusting God, instead of me. Except for the emotional crutch value, upon which I would rather not depend, humanly speaking, prayer is a waste of time. That is not God’s assessment of prayer.

When viewed in the light of harsh reality, I must accept the fact that God got along fine before I came along and He will do fine when I leave the scene. It is only because of His grace that I can have the gift of eternal life and share the privilege of serving Him. He does not need my faithless efforts to further His cause. He wants His Spirit-controlled children to be yielded to Him. In His grace He promises the gift of eternal life to those who will trust Him (Eph. 2:8,9; Rom. 6:23) and He promises great blessings in addition to the gift of eternal life to those who will serve Him (Luke 18:29,30).

We have guarantees of answered prayer. These promises are conditional. The first condition is listed above in the comments about James 4:2. We do not have answered prayer because we do not pray. Assuming that we do pray, the following are several of the conditions listed in God’s word for assurance of answered prayer:

I John 5:14,15, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

The condition listed here is that we ask according to His will. That may entail some searching of God’s Word and being yielded to His Holy Spirit. I infer from this verse that if it is right to do or have, it is right to pray for it.

John 14:13,14, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

The condition given here is to ask in Jesus’ name. Does this mean that if we stick the well-worn phrase on the end of our prayer that this promise applies? No. It means that we must ask something that Jesus would ask. This could be an allusion to the requirement God puts on believers if they are to be faithful stewards. I Cor. 4:2, “Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A steward was a trusted house-servant whom the master put in charge when he was to leave town. The steward was assigned great responsibility and authority. He was to make decisions just as the master would if he were there. When Jesus left He said that He would send the Comforter to be with us and in us, but we, as faithful stewards, were to be doing Jesus’ business just as He would if He were bodily present. We can pray in Jesus’ name by praying for what He would if He were here. This condition is similar to the first.

Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

The condition given here is to delight yourself in the LORD. If our delight is to do what God wants us to, the rest of the verse applies. One fringe benefit that may not be obvious is that as we put God first in our lives, not only does He give us the request of the desires of our heart, but frequently, He will give us the desires themselves, then the fulfillment of them. That is a neat deal.

OK, I need to pray. I prayed once last week after I went to bed (sometimes called “sack religion”) but I now realize that that is not what God requests of me, either for His glory or for my benefit. What now? How can I start a meaningful prayer life and see more of God’s blessing flowing in me and through me?

Some helpful suggestions:

1. Determine, with God’s help, to start praying, as Jesus admonished His disciples in Luke 11:1. Realize that praying is not a formal speech with a bunch of “thee’s” and “thou’s.” It is just talking to someone who loves you more than you can grasp and with Whom you can grow to love as you become closer to Him. Satan does not seem to mind a believer’s “Christian” activity, as long as it is not done “in the power of His might” Eph. 6:10).

2. Set aside a time to pray that works for you. Make it a priority. We all have busy schedules but we also all have 24 hours in a day. We end up doing what we choose to do during this time. Evaluate how you spend your time. Whatever is of lesser value or importance, discard. This will take self-discipline. It is foolish to spend most of our time and energy on efforts that will mean nothing a thousand years from now. One pastor was convicted about the amount of time that he spent watching TV. He chose to start praying during the same time. This was a turning point in his life. God has since used him in a ministry that has affected many thousands of people (See “The Cross and the Switchblade” by David Wilkerson).

3. Set aside a place to pray, preferably without too many distractions. This suggestion, along with setting aside a time is to be made in addition to consistent, brief, prayers necessary throughout the day.

4. Make a study of prayer. See what God has to say on the subject. Follow the footnotes or study guides in your reference Bible, or get a good book on prayer in the Bible book store. Read biographies of faithful servants of God.

5. Make some sort of list of prayer requests with notations of the time of answers to these prayers. Update as needed.

“Praying always” is an essential ingredient for victory in our spiritual battle. Verses 18 and 19 will tell us for what we need to pray and in verse 19 and 20 we shall see the ultimate goal in our battle; to make known the gospel so that we may glorify God by bearing much fruit (John 15:8).

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