Prayer Activates Our Armor


Ephesians 6:13-20
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.


Recently, I lost my debit card and had to request a new one to be sent to me from our bank. When I received my new card in the mail, it had a sticker on it with instructions on how to activate the card so that I could begin to use it. If I had carried around that card in my wallet but never called the number, chosen a PIN number and activated it, it would have been of absolutely no use to me. Similarly, in this passage, Paul describes the spiritual armor that God provides for all believers, and gives us the key to activating that armor: prayer.

In Ephesians 6:13-20, Paul encourages us to stand firm in the very real battle we find ourselves in against the Enemy by putting on every piece of God’s armor. The belt of truth (v. 14) is foundational and holds everything together, the body armor or breastplate of righteousness is imparted to us by Christ and guards our hearts from sin. The shoes of the Gospel of peace (v. 15) ground us in the good news of Jesus and prepare us to walk forward to share it with others. The shield of faith protects us from the attacks of the enemy and extinguishes the fiery darts he launches at us, meant to take us out. The helmet of salvation protects our minds from the lies of the enemy with the great assurance of the hope we have in Christ. Then, Paul instructs us to pick up our offensive weapons: the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
But beyond wearing the armor, Paul exhorts us to pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. The presence of this exhortation after the list of armor to put on and take up suggests that our spiritual armor is activated through prayer that is moved and guided by the Holy Spirit. There are several things I notice about what Paul says about prayer here that I believe are significant for us–how we are to pray (in the Spirit), when we are to pray (at all times and on every occasion), and for whom we are to pray (for all believers everywhere). The very act of prayer is practicing dependence on God, trusting in His power and plan rather than our own. John Piper writes that praying in the Spirit means that “we are being prompted to pray by the Spirit; he’s awakening it and moving it. And the things that we pray for are being shaped and determined by the Spirit. So, it’s his power that carries the prayer, and it’s his leading that guides the prayer.” When we pray in the Spirit, we align our hearts with God's will and invite His presence to work in and through us. This is what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He was taking on arguably his toughest spiritual battle; he was facing the cross, the thought of the sin of the world being added to him and being completely separated from His Father for the first and only time in eternal history. He asked his closest friends to pray with him, he prostrated himself and groaned out prayers in agony to the point of sweating drops of blood. And, He ultimately submitted to God’s authority in prayer, over his preferences, circumstances, and desires–this is the model for praying in the Spirit at all times!

Paul also asks the Ephesians for prayer on his behalf: for boldness, clarity, and fearless power to proclaim the Gospel! Prayer activates our spiritual armor, so that we don’t just stand in place, wearing our armor; we march forward, into battle with the enemy over the souls of those around us with full confidence in the One who will accomplish the victory! Let us be persistent in prayer at all times, led by and yielded to the Spirit, lifting up not only our own needs but also the needs of others. Let us intercede for fellow believers, asking God to empower them to stand firm in the face of adversity and to boldly proclaim the gospel message. And let us pray for ourselves, that we may share the Gospel fearlessly and effectively, just as Paul did, so that generations to come will know and follow Him.

Action Step

How are you praying? What are you praying for? Consider spending some time today sitting alone in a quiet place, maybe with your hands open in a posture of surrender, inviting the Holy Spirit to be present with you and to lead you as you pray today. Ask Him to help you to pray bold, audacious, God-sized prayers. Keep a journal and pen handy, and write down the things you are praying for as the Spirit brings them to mind. Keep a running list during this season to return to, so that you can see how the Lord moves in response to your Spirit-led prayers.


Holy Spirit, come. Overwhelm us with your presence, and prompt us to pray in line with the heart of God. Help us to pray beyond just the here and now; lead us to pray in ways that are bigger and bolder than what we would pray of our own strength and intellect. Empower and embolden us to plant the seeds of the Gospel through our prayer, our words, and our actions wherever we go. Spirit, lead your people, all over the globe, to share the good news of Jesus, so that every nation and tribe and tongue would know that He is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. Amen.
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