ARMOUR OF GOD – Praying at all times
Today we finish our devotional series through the armour of God, with a surprising additional piece of equipment:
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”Ephesians 6:14-20
The list of armour, which starts with a ‘belt’ and ends with a ‘sword’, continues into a discussion on prayer. Notice that ‘praying’ continues the sentence which includes specific pieces of armour!
It’s for this reason that some call prayer the seventh piece of armour, which may in fact be the most important! The emphasis on prayer is the climax of this list, and in fact could be the climax of the whole book.
This is not just due to placement, the call to pray is repeated four times, and each time the qualifier ‘all’ is added.
Sometimes when my wife and I are having an argument we might say ‘You always..’ or ‘You never..’. Of course we don’t use this strong language in a literal sense, but to add emphasis. That is certainly the case here: a very strong emphasis on prayer at the end of this list.
Charles Spurgeon puts this in context by saying:
“When you cannot use your sword, and even when you can hardly grasp your shield, you can pray. The weapon of ‘all prayer’ is the handiest kind, because it can be turned in any and every direction.”C.H. Spurgeon
The four ‘alls’ divide into two main instructions regarding prayer:
1. Praying at all times in the Spirit
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”Ephesians 6:18a
I sometimes feel inadequate when I read instructions like this in scripture. Does it literally mean at all times? Like even now while I’m writing? Of course it functions primarily as an emphasis, but I do believe we are being pushed to engage with God in prayer further than just a morning & evening prayer, or perhaps grace at the dinner table.
I heard one Pastor say that perhaps prayer is simply inviting Jesus into the conversation in your head. You know, the constant thoughts we have while we’re driving, in the shower etc. Perhaps this kind of ‘praying at all times’ is simply that: inviting Jesus into the everyday circumstances off our lives.
I believe this is what Paul means by praying ‘in the Spirit’. I don’t think that refers to a specific kind of praying, like in tongues or things like that (that’s another whole discussion topic!). I believe it’s simply this: engaging with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the concrete circumstances of our lives.
2. Making supplication for the saints
“To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”Ephesians 6:18b-19
It’s amazing that apostle Paul repeatedly asks for prayer at end of his letters, and almost always, with the exception of 1 Thessalonians, it was specifically for the advancement of gospel.
This is an appropriate place to wind down this series through the armour of God: a call to pray for the advancement of the gospel, particularly in these tough times.
As you go about your day ‘praying at all times’ be sure to ‘make supplication for all the saints’, specifically that the Kingdom would advance through the proclamation of the gospel. Remember, this is not just a prayer for preachers, its for ‘ALL the saints’! Lets pray for each other ‘boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel’
Activity for kids
(Click on the bold, underlined text in the activities below to go to the online link.)
1. The Lord’s prayer, prayer stations:
Set up interactive stations around your home and pray through the Lord’s Prayer as a family (Matthew 6:9-13). You can set up stations in any way you like, but here are some ideas:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name – God is our Father in heaven, who cares about us and loves us a lot. He is also holy and worthy of all our praise. Write or draw what it means to be God’s beloved child, and what you are praising God for today.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – Build with playdough all the ways you would love to see God’s kingdom on earth. What would you like God to restore?
Give us this day our daily bread – Break a piece of bread from a loaf. As you eat it, remember God’s past faithfulness and thank him. Then, bring your needs before him and ask God for his provision.
And forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors – Using sticks, break one and pray about your own sin. As you mend the pieces together with a plaster, thank God for how he has forgiven you and fixed your broken relationship with him through Jesus. Break a couple more sticks, praying about ways you have been hurt by others. Mend the broken pieces together as you ask God to help you forgive others.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil – Paint or decorate a rock or smaller stone/pebble. Ask God to help you live in obedience to him and walk closely to him. Ask that he may protect you against temptation. Ask God to help you be like the wise builder in Matthew 7:24-27, so that you will hear God’s word and put it into practice.
2. Prayer box/journal:
Decorate a box to place prayers in, or write them in a notebook – be creative and have fun with this! Spend time as a family filling the box / journal with prayers and perhaps make this a weekly habit. Look back at your prayers after a period of time to see how God answered them.