10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 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.
Unfortunately after talking about the sword of the Spirit this is where many Christians conclude the passage. But Paul doesn’t conclude with the Sword of the Spirit he goes on to talk about the power of prayer. Many of us fail in the fight because we stop short and forget about the power of prayer. But Paul calls us to pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. Now prayer isn’t another weapon, but rather the thing that keeps us going as we do battle. Prayer provides the power to stay in the fight instead of fleeing. It’s here that Paul provides a pattern for prayer as he gives us six essential elements that will beef up our prayer lives and take us from puny to potent. The first ingredient to a powerful prayer life is that it is:
Praying in the Spirit means that our desires are directed according to God’s Will not our wants. Which means our lives will be directed and guided by God. When it comes to prayer we need to remember we are not partnering with God where we are partly in charge, we are surrendering to His supremacy. Which means that we are not praying for God to approve our plan but to pursue His. When it comes to prayer we need to remember that it is not something that is to be rote or repetitious. Jesus cautioned us against just going through the motions in Matthew 6:7: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Instead we are to “pray in the Spirit.” That is to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us pray. Romans 8:26 says: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” When we allow the Spirit to direct our prayers we can avoid selfish requests and empty words. Not only should our prayers be Spirit directed but second they should be:
We are to pray in the Spirit “on all occasions.” Unfortunately for many of us, prayer is a part time proposition, and part time prayer leads to part-time progress. Corrie ten Boom a Dutch Christian who not only survived the Holocaust but also rescued many Jews during this horrific time in history has a famous quote that provides a powerful question for us today: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” This illustration begs to ask the question is prayer our first hope or our last ditched effort? Do we go directly to God in difficult and trying times or do we utter the appalling statement: “I guess all we can do now is pray?” Can you imagine what God thinks when he hears that statement? We are essentially saying, “God, we have tried everything, we have made all the attempts we know of to remedy our situation. We’ve checked with all the experts and we have come up with nothing. All we have left to do now is pray.” So let me ask you is your prayer life today your steering wheel, what directs and drives your life, or your spare tire, something that you fall back on if everything goes out? Paul reminds us here that the time to pray is all the time. Prayer is appropriate in all seasons of life and at all times during the day. We are to pray during the good as well as the bad times. In times of tragedy, and in times of triumph; when we finish well, and when we fail miserably; when God feels close, and when we don’t know where He is. The early church certainly understood this for in Acts 1:14 we read that they were “continually devoting themselves to prayer.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 challenges us to “pray without ceasing.” Have you ever wondered how you can pray like this? How can you pray without ceasing? The only way I know is by allowing Christ to be at the center of your life so that in every situation and circumstance you will find yourself naturally talking to Him. At all times reminds us that it doesn’t matter how important or otherwise the situation seems to be. The Lord loves to listen to us, the question is do we love to listen to Him? We must not fall into the trap of believing that it’s only the big stuff that we should take to God. Don’t think that your need is too small for Him because He is a God of detail as well as of the big picture. So go to him with whatever needs you have. So how powerful is your prayer life? How much time do you spend talking to God? The more time we spend in His presence the less we will focus on the problems and the more we will be focusing on His power.