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Prayers for challenging times

Prayers for challenging times

(10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 

(11) Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 

Ephesians 6:10–11, NIV

Lord God, we thank you that it is your will to strengthen us through your presence, through Jesus Christ, the leader of your cause, who is and remains victor among all on earth. Our souls need strength and our hearts need confidence so that in our time we can draw near to you and to your kingdom. Bless us with the Holy Spirit whenever we begin to grow weary. Your Holy Spirit can give us the strength to believe and hope, the strength to see the salvation that is coming to give joy to all the world. Amen.

The context of the words of Ephesians 6:10–11, NIV

Ephesians 6:10–20 concludes Paul's practical application of Christianity with a famous series of metaphors. Here, he describes the ''armor of God.'' In this passage, Paul uses the allegory of a Roman soldier's basic equipment to show how the components of Christianity work together as we strive to serve God. The soldier's tools include a belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword. In parallel, the Christian's implements are truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Christians are also given prayer. Just as a soldier's equipment is designed for their earthly battle, a Christian's equipment is meant for spiritual warfare.

Chapter Summary

Paul gives specific instructions to children and fathers, stressing obedience and patience, respectively. He also directs servants to serve with sincerity and good intentions, as if they were working for Christ. Masters are warned not to be harsh: the same God who judges all will not give them preference over those they supervised. All Christians are called on to use the tools given us by God for surviving the attacks of the devil. These are imagined as pieces of a suit of armor. Paul ends this letter in his typical style, with prayer, blessings, and news about his plans.

Meaning of the words

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power"

Verses 10 through 20 are a famous and well-used portion of Scripture. Paul wraps up his practical teachings with a series of analogies, comparing aspects of the Christian faith to the equipment carried by a soldier.

This verse introduces the overall motivation for Paul's instructions. Namely, this is strength, through the Lord, and of the Lord. Paul opened his letter with a prayer for the Ephesian Christians to receive wisdom and knowledge (Ephesians 1:15-23). Here, after discussing the real-world application of that wisdom, Paul notes that the believer does not rely on his or her own strength, but on the power of God to win victory in life's battles.

The following verses will offer an outline of each part of the metaphorical armor of God. Each piece connects to an area of spiritual life important for reliance upon God's strength. Paul's depiction of these components will conclude with a focus on prayer (Ephesians 6:18–20), again asking God for strength and success in battle. Only by relying on God, through these spiritual tools, can we overcome spiritual evil and succeed at living out God's will.

Paul personally saw himself as a spiritual warrior as well. In fact, he was often a prisoner of war, in a sense (Ephesians 6:20), yet still involved in the battle to reach others with the good news of Jesus.

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes"

Here Paul introduces the armor of God, a famous and often-used metaphor from the Bible. Paul begins with two important qualifiers in this verse. These give a useful perspective on how these various components are meant to function, and why they are important. His admonition to "put on" these pieces is also instructive: Christians have to be deliberate about using these implements.

First, believers must plan to utilize all tools available to them. One or two pieces are not sufficient, especially in light of the second qualification, which are the plans of Satan. Only with every piece of the armor of God can a believer adequately stand against the schemes of the Devil. Just as a Roman soldier could not reasonably enter battle with a partial suit of armor, or with only some of his weapons, a believer will not be as successful in spiritual battle unless every part of God's armor is included.

Second, Paul calls the Devil's work against believers "schemes." This indicates a coordinated plan of attack against believers. It is clear Paul does not have in mind physical violence, but rather a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). Further, the Devil appears to specifically seek to destroy the good work of all believers. Thankfully, his power is no match for the power available through God. However, believers must pray and fully rely on God's resources to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13) against his attacks. Using the armor of God fully, and completely, is key to surviving this spiritual onslaught.

Also interesting is the fact that these tools are meant to allow Christians to "stand against" the Devil. The verse does not suggest conquering, leading a charge, or other types of offense. While believers are called to speak out against evil (2 Corinthians 10:5), triumph over Satan primarily involves holding a firm defense, and allowing Christ to win the ultimate victory.

Verse 12 will put this battle in graphic terms. At the same time, Paul will make it clear that Christians are engaged in a spiritual war, not an earthly one.


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