Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus- 1stThessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
Most commentators and teachers agree there are a total of six weapons named in the “warfare passage” found in Ephesians six.
I respectively oppose the conventional tally.
The traditional weapon count is: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit (the Bible).
In my humble opinion:
The Bible is not the last weapon listed in the passage. It is for sure not the end of Paul’s teaching on the subject of spiritual warfare. Verse eighteen begins with an “and”. Grammatically and practically speaking, “and” is never the end of a topic. It is always the continuation of said topic.
Here is the text of Ephesians 6:18-20:
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 Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should- Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV
Prayer the final weapon named in Paul’s instruction on spiritual warfare. If the sheer number of times prayer is mentioned is any indicator, and it probably is, then Pastor Paul believed prayer is pretty dang important (Romans 12:12, 1st Corinthians 7:5, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2,1st Thessalonians 5:17). Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to spiritual warfare.
The total number of times Paul mentions prayer in this particular context clues us into exactly how fundamental prayer is when it comes to dealing with the dark forces at work in our world (Daniel 10:7-21, Ephesians 6:10-13). Attempting to do battle on spiritual level without prayer is a fool hardy endeavor. Without prayer we lose connection with Jesus who is the spiritual head of the body of Christ (Colossians 2:18, Ephesians 1:22-23). When we lose connection with Jesus we have no one wiser or better leading us. We are forced to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Without a vital connection to Jesus our flesh takes over and we live in the natural rather than spiritual (Romans 1:26-32). When we are disconnected from Jesus spiritual discernment becomes impossible and wisdom is a pipe dream. Without the spiritual covering prayer provides we quickly become sitting ducks for the enemy. Satan is relentlessly searching for Christians wandering around without their armor on so he can deceive and devour them (John 8:44, 1st Peter 5:8)
Each piece of armor empowers Christians in some way. When we have the full armor on we walk in Spirit and are able to thwart the plans the enemy has for us. Walking in the spirit also empowers us protect and guide others on a spiritual level. In some cases, we are even able to snatch unsaved people from the fire (Jude 22-23).
Here’s how it works:
The belt of truth empowers us to know and understand what is true about ourselves, God and other people. The belt of truth protects our most vulnerable emotional, spiritual and psychological parts from the lies of the enemy. The simple act of putting on the breastplate of righteousness reminds us daily that even the best and brightest of humans have literally zero righteousness of their own (Isaiah 64:6). However, the breastplate does more than remind us of our weakness. The breastplate empowers us to walk in step with Jesus so we can be like Him, think like Him and do the things He did (Matthew 10:19, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 10:8).
The shoes of the gospel of peace remind us that Jesus is our mission (Matthew 28:16-20). The shoes empower us take the presence of Jesus and the word of God with us everywhere we go. The shield of faith enables us to remember who God is and what He is capable of –even when life is hard and our path feels dark and uncertain (Isaiah 64:5). This knowledge puts out Satan’s flaming arrows of doubt. Every. Single. Time. The helmet of salvation allows us to practice discernment so we can think like Christians in a world filled with hollow and deceptive philosophies intended to lead us away from simple faith in Jesus (Colossians 2:8). The word of God gives us the spiritual knowledge we need to live as productive members of God’s family.
Here’s the bottom-line truth:
Prayer is the engine that powers each piece of armor. Without regular prayer and the intimacy with Jesus that prayer provides, a Christian has no spiritual protection, no spiritual power, no practical holiness, no wisdom, no peace of mind and no spiritual discernment (Matthew 26:41, Mark 9:29. Without intimate connection to the Almighty we will struggle to grow in our knowledge of God (Hebrews 5:12-14).
We are a hot defenseless mess.
Prayer is the spiritual discipline most believers neglect. The average Christian spends slightly LESS than three minutes a day in prayer. That means most of us are asking God to bless our food, our commute to work and maybe our kids.
No wonder our lives lack power.
If we want spiritual wisdom, victory over sin, protection from the enemy and to tear down spiritual strongholds we must pray (2nd Corinthians 10:4). It really is that simple. Pray. Just start. Go to Him and ask Him to show you who He is and who you are in Him. Ask Him to transform you. Storm the gates of heaven with your requests and petitions for other people (Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2, 1st Thessalonians 5:17).
If you make a regular practice of prayer people and situations you never thought in a billion years could change will change.
It’ll blow your mind.