Ephesians 6:18

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The Final Piece of Armor: Prayer

 

The culmination of all God’s armor brings us to the greatest piece.  It calls for one that everyone needs.  It speaks of the greatest and most needed item in anyone’s closet.  This item often remains neglected.  We forget prayer right before the battle, and we forget during battle, but we do tend to remember God after. 

In Satan’s realm war is so we forget God and depend upon our resources, and our uniform—not God’s.  We forget God gave us everything needed to win.  We forget God provided the way to win.  In doing so, we lose.  We lose the fight.  We lose the skirmish, but in the end God wins the war.  We should be using this as a source of strength until that time. 

Paul begins Ephesians showing us all we have in Christ.  God has taken care of the past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:4, 7, 11).  He takes us by the hand showing how to “walk in Christ”, lifting us on two feet.   Now Paul takes us to our knees, getting us to depend on Christ.  Christ has given “every spiritual blessing”.  Paul showed how to live differently in a world gone mad.  Paul showed how to have a proper relationship with Christ and others.  Paul showed that we have spiritual armor to protect us from the evil one.

With all this, we can become proud and think we are standing on our own two feet.  Failure is right around the corner.  “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18).  When times get tough and we are weak, tired, and weary, we face giving in, throwing in the towel, walking off the field defeated.  These are times when prayer is needed.  Prayer brings focus; gets us looking to “One” who gave all.  Prayer puts the burden on Christ.  It removes pressures of the day; it restores from failure and puts back the path to success.

Prayer, what more can I say?  Prayer, what more can we do?  It is that effectual and wondrous beauty of God who sits in the throne room of Grace waiting to tell us what to do next, how to respond, giving peace, patience, and kindness towards those who have hurt us.  Prayer gets us through another day of trials and temptations.  Prayer allows easy breathing from a day of hyperventilating.  It removes heartaches.  It allows being heard.  Challenges our spirits, and draws us closer to Christ.  All these prayer does and even more. 

 Prayer closes gaps between failure and success.  Paul closes Ephesians by telling in order to win the fight, keep in the battle, pray to “stand and walk”.  He wraps up by giving the greatest gift besides Christ dying on the cross for our salvation.  Don’t miss God’s blessing!  If we fail to see the greatest blessing of all, we fall away from our true love.

Communication is the key to keeping a relationship going.  Many find this out when their marriages die off and spouses tell them that they “fell out of love”.  Remember what you did when you first met?  You talked for hours, and even when getting off the phone you did not want to be the first one to say “goodbye”.  You missed hearing their voice.  You wanted to spend all your time with them.  When you were having a bad day at work, you shared.  When you had joys you called.

Remember those days?  Remember that feeling of being deeply in love?  Remember that feeling of happiness you got from being heard and listening?   Remember the smile you had, the strength from talking?  If you are missing that joy, perhaps you are missing communication?  Maybe you forgot you need to talk about your troubles and even your joys. 

Maybe you lost your marriage or in the process?  Do you think this is not you and your spouse? We all fail, and are weak, but prayer is the only way to gain strength.  We might have all the armor, know all the right verses, and can tell others how to fix their mistakes.  Do you fail to address your own problems; do you fail to see your own failures (see Romans 2)?  Go to Christ, ask for forgiveness.  Seek restoration.  You see, when we sin that separates us from God—we don’t lose salvation, but we lose that joy and communication with God.  Asking for forgiveness restores that line of communication.

James tells us to “Wash your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, you double minded” (James 4:8).  We are to make our lives match our hearts.  If your heart is right, then we must live right.  We must make our external match the internal.  Purify and wash are verbs, action words, to get us to take action, do something.  Wash and purify our lives both internally and externally.  James tells us that faith without deeds is useless (dead).  Indeed, one cannot have faith in a saving Christ if we don’t live like we have a saving Christ. 

(For further study take a look at these passages: Psalms 24:3-5; Isa 1:16-17; 2Cor 7:1; Acts 10:15; Mat 8:2-3; 1John 1:9)

Earlier in this verse, James calls for us to “come near”.  The way in which this can happen is through prayer. 


And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.—Ephesians 6:18

Observations:

  1. All – is repeated (3 times)
  2. And – connects previous thought (refers back to Ephesians 6:14 “stand firm” shows the completion of how to do this “in full”)
  3. Continues a command
  4. In the Spirit – refers to not fleshly prayers but a prayer reflected by “heartfelt heavenward longings”, to pray consistent with God’s nature and will (Romans 8:26-27).  To line up our desires with His desires.  Submitting, obeying, and relying “is” to be “in the Spirit”.
  5. Pray – carries the idea of adoration, devotion and worship. It is to bring something before God.
  6. All kinds of requests – to make supplication, to ask for specific needs, a heart-felt petition but given only to God not man.
  7. On all occasions – or at all times.  The word signifies the here and now, a moment or a period.  Or an opportune time, redeem the favorable time that God has revealed this request to you; do now not later, at this moment in time—the favorable moment of circumstances God has brought you to.
  8. With this in mind – continuing thought, with this in view, consideration (mind NIG—not in Greek)
  9. Be alert – to keep one awake, keep guard, watch.  References Satan’s ever present attack on the moral and spiritual lives.  We are to always be vigilant in “watching” for Satan’s ploy—praying without ceasing.
  10. Always keep on praying – signifies the  due diligence to never quit but not only for yourself but “for all the saints

 


 

I.     And pray in the Spirit…(Ephesians 6:18a)

Our prayers are not to be fleshly, so others are impressed.  We are to pray with God’s heart.  We are to pray for God’s glorification and not man’s. 

Jesus spoke to this problem.  In Matthew 6:5-8 Jesus addresses this issue of being hypocritical. 

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.—Matthew 6:5-8

Jesus’ teaching on prayer seeking to glorify one taught that it is self-righteous and doesn’t glorify God, but what does is prayer seeking private communion with a Holy God.  Proper prayer seeks an “Audience” that matters.   There is a time and place for public prayers, but they should not be showy, and showered with flamboyant language seeking to glorify oneself and not God. 

The hypocrites as Jesus defines are those seeking to be seen.  Their hearts don’t appear to be in it.  The definition Jesus tells is to seek only to be seen by God.  These are two polar opposites about “praying in the spirit”.  It is this devoted, worshipping, adoration of a holy God and Savior whom we seek to supply our needs—requests (see #6 above).

 

II.     …on all occasions (Ephesians 6:18b)

Paul’s asking us to pray at all times, or “without ceasing” or to be faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12; 1Thes 5:17).

Colossians 4:5 translates the Greek word for occasions as opportunity, implying that we should take every opportunity, or at every opportune time to pray that we would stay vigilant in battle—a lifestyle. 

It is our priority to seize every moment serving Christ presenting ourselves holy and blameless and to pray so that we could continually receive direction and answers to problems and issues regarding our battle.

 

III.     …with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18c)

This is the culmination of what type of prayer we are to bring.  It is asking for specific needs.  Taking what is upon our hearts and verbally speaking them to God.  Paul is telling us that all types of prayers we can bring.  It does not matter what we bring, but bring them to God at every opportunity.

We are to pray at every season of life, no period in which we live should be without bringing prayer to God, whether we are young or old.

  

Cross In A Cemetery by George Hodan

IV.     With this in mind, be alert…(Ephesians 6:18d)

“With this thought”, we need to be alert, always looking for the opportunities to pray.  Anyone in battle cannot afford to lose focus, praying keeps focus. 

We are to exercise constant vigilance or the devil will come and attack.  The Jews did not pray with head bowed and eyes closed, but with the eyes open and head towards the sky, Christ implored: “Watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation…” (Matthew 26:41)

Luke 21:36 gives the great idea behind what is being said (ESV):

But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

We need to stay awake constantly scanning our “sectors of fire” for any sign of the enemy.  Prayer keeps centered on the task: living holy and righteous lives despite trials and temptations.

The present tense has us making it part of everyday life.  Even Hebrews 13:17 shows that leaders “keep watch”; having a constant concern for their flock because they have to “give an account”.

  

V.     …and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18:e)

Not only are we to pray for ourselves but also for fellow Christians!  We are to never give up.  We are to “keep on praying”.  Due diligence is the theme.  Doing what needs to be done. 

As Christians we should not only be concerned for our walk but also the walk of others.  Paul stated in Corinthians that he became whatever was needed for the benefit of the person so as to not put any stumbling block in front of another.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.—1Corinthians 9:22

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.—Romans 14:13

Praying for others takes things away like, envy and anger which changes them to genuine concern.  Of course we will not always get along, we are human after all, but prayer has a way of changing the outlook.  Genuine love puts others first.  Read 1Corinthians 13.

It was Christ who was hurt by our sins, separating from His loving arms.  To restore this relationship He came out of love and died on the cross.  Love changed the relationship and our love should change our relationship to others.  If God can love and forgive, how can we not love and forgive?

Romans 5:3-4 gives the best illustration as what happens when we don’t give up, we have hope:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Our sufferings ultimately give hope.  When we don’t give up and “persevere” this builds godly character that is looking not on man but God to provide protection—the armor.  When we are looking to God wearing the armor while praying we are standing firm on the promises He has given us that one day we will be in His presence.  Prayer is this key to keeping on the armor and to persevere.


Application: God has given a way to communicate with Him.  God has done something special.  He has given prayer so that we can come to Him even in the midst of a storm.  Even in a trial or temptation God is right there but we may fail to see Him. 

 John Ortberg has written a wonderful book that deals with storms.  He begins the book by talking about Matthew 14 where the disciples get into a boat and head towards Capernaum (John 6:17).  During their trip they encountered a “strong wind” which made the water rough (John 6:18).  Jesus starts going out to them but was about to pass them by when they noticed Jesus.  At first they did not know it was Him.  Jesus tells them it was Him and so Peter calls asking if it was Jesus, “tell me to come”.  Jesus replies for Peter to come.  If you want you can read the rest in Matthew 14: 22-32. 

When we are in the middle of a storm Jesus is right there.  I question whether or not we actually are looking for Him or if we even see Him?  John writes that “[o]ften in the middle of the storm, tormented by waves of disappointment and doubt, we are no better at recognizing his presence than they were.”  (Ortberg 14)  How true is that?  God is right there alongside and we miss Him.  We don’t even notice His guidance because we get so caught up in what is going on.  We forget prayer; we forget the armor of God.

Right in the middle of the storm Peter obeys Christ and gets out, but because of all the waves and wind he doubts and begins to sink.  He recognized Christ, asked if this was God’s calling and appropriately obeys, but doubt sets in.  Jesus reaches out and takes him by the hand.  I will ask you this, do you see Christ, but because of doubt are you like Peter and begin to sink?  Are we taken up by all the problems and washed away?  John brings out a good point to understand:  Just because we obey the call, it does not mean we will not be “spared adversity.” (Ortberg 15)

Trials will come, Satan will attack, but where is your strength?  Strength comes from prayer and putting on the armor of God.  Jesus is right there, He knows your struggles, and your trials.  He knows right when to pull you out and put you back in the boat of safety.  God knows our limitations and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.  God will also provide “a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1Corinthians 10:13). 

 Paul takes us from walking and standing to our knees, knowing where true strength rests.   We can get all God’s armor, get to praying and then “step out of the boat” to all those waves and wind.  Our focus is on God and our focus is serving Christ to the fullest, then we take it off Christ and on our surroundings.  We sink, taking off God’s armor, stop praying and “run for the hills”.  Some faith, huh?  It doesn’t need to be like that!  It can be the ride of your life; the smiles on our faces as we “let go and let God”.  Won’t you take that step out of the boat today keeping our eyes on Christ?

 



Work Cited:

 Ortberg, John. If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve got to Get Out of the Boat. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

About Ernest Grogg

First and foremost I am married to Olesya and looking forward to the rest of our lives together. Marriage is a journey and it is interesting and fun. Saved at the age of 25 and while salvation has been a challenge, God has always been faithful.

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