Text for the Week: A Promise to Pray

Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. 11 Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. 12 We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. 13 Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. 14 So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, 15 and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. 16 Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

18 Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers. 19 As for me, pray that when I open my mouth, I’ll get a message that confidently makes this secret plan of the gospel known. 20 I’m an ambassador in chains for the sake of the gospel. Pray so that the Lord will give me the confidence to say what I have to say.

Theme- A major part of the Christian commitment to the Church is to pray for one another.


  1. What is the relationship between the paragraphs, specifically how does the discussion of God’s amor lead to prayer?
  2. Why is the command to offer prayers qualified by “in the Spirit all the time”, is it possible to pray without God’s Spirit and how do we do this at all times?
  3. Is there a message between the prayer life of the community and the message of God?

Helpful Information

Ephesians 4:24 speaks of clothing ourselves in God & Isaiah 59:17-18 speaks of God armed the way described here. In the ancient world putting on another person’s clothes (God’s clothes here) gave one the power of that person or at least it means to be closely associated with that person.

In 1:16 we are told Paul prays for the community continuously and now requests them to do the same. Showing the bond of prayer is essential Christian community.

Rather, prayer is presented as a comprehensive activity that covers and supports every aspect of the church’s witness to the powers[1]

Major themes of the Book of Ephesians are “the reunification of everything through Christ (1:10), of which the unity of the church (2:11–22; 4:1–16) and the harmony of the Christian household (5:22–6:9) are examples and the elimination of anti-social vices (4:17–5:21)”[2] and this section how the Christian is to participate in this world understanding these themes.


                We all recognize that prayer is one of those things Christians do, whether it is a regular part of our lives or not, we at least acknowledge it has a place. And most Christians probably recognize that prayer should make up a larger part of their daily routine. But I do not think we often recognize how vital the time of daily communion with God is to our lives and community. Ephesians 6 is a frequently cited chapter from scripture because of the “Armor of God” passage in verses 10-17; but most people fail to recognize that verses 18-20 actually finish the thought. The passage that we are all so familiar with about defending ourselves from the attacks of evil in this world culminates in a call to pray continuously. But why are we so strongly commanded to pray in this context?

                These verses represent the culmination of the letter and so many of the major themes are brought together in this section through somewhat subtle wordplay. The Church is the physical manifestation of Jesus’ plan to reunite humanity with God, and that brings attack from evil. And as we the Church recognize this we are seeking to build unity within our lives, peace within our houses and the elimination of vice within society. To that end we adorn ourselves with God’s armor, the armor which the prophet tells us adorns God. Obviously, God wearing armor is an extreme metaphor, but it tells us that what “protects” God from the attacks of evil are these characteristics that are intrinsic to who God is. Through God’s Spirit these characteristics are open to us and we can adorn ourselves with the characteristics necessary to protect us from the assaults of evil. As we are clothed with this armor we are imbued with God’s power, a power to overcome evil with the same means that God is using through Jesus. This wonderful gift is open to all believers, and it comes through prayer.

Prayer is the means by which we connect to God and put on this armor. Verse 18 is so intertwined with the sword of the Spirit that we can see prayer being how Christians are to use the sword. We bring down evil through God’s word in prayer. Sadly, this connection is often obscured but we must recognize that prayer is the essential quality for dressing out for action. It would not be overstating the matter to say that prayer is the greatest duty for the Christian and as it is something every Christian can participate in, we do poorly when we de-emphasize it. Unfortunately, prayer today is seen as an individual activity; we think of it as individual in the sense that we do it alone and that often our prayer lives revolve around our immediate individual concerns. But prayer should be a time to build up the community in in the work of God. When I think of this passage, I picture phalanx style formations used by Roma armies. These formations were designed to protect a large group of soldiers and use intimidation to prevent attacks on the main body. This to some degree reflects our prayer life, because in our prayer life we can lift up the community in a way that brings us together and allows God’s armor to envelop each of us. Our prayers for one another can help to protect people in the difficulties of life, even perhaps in those times when it is impossible for them to pray.

Prayer, this time of connecting to God, is literally how we use sword and shield to ward off the attacks of evil from our community. It might seem like this is true because in our daily lives we feel the attacks coming from people, but the attack is far subtler than we are often aware. Our only hope to ward off these attacks is to be clothed in the armor God wears and we step more fully into that armor through prayer. But we are not doing this for ourselves alone but for the entire community for whom we pray. May we step more deeply into the discipline of prayer so we can connect more richly to God’s grace for the sake of our world.

[1] Stephen E. Fowl, Ephesians: A Commentary, ed. C. Clifton Black, M. Eugene Boring, and John T. Carroll, First Edition., The New Testament Library (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 208.

[2] Charles H. Talbert, Ephesians and Colossians, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 158.

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