In the Bible we identify four different kinds of prayer, depending on the circumstances, the disposition of the person who prays and the aim of one’s prayer. This does not mean that a particular prayer cannot contain elements that fall into more than one category, or to all four of them. With the Bible’s help, in this chapter I will try to unfold the secrets of prayer, analyze the philosophy of it and explain how it works.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thes.5: 16-18)
The highest form of prayer and the most uplifting one is thanksgiving. Paul instructs Thessalonians to pray constantly, rejoicing and giving thanks to the Lord under all circumstances. This is the will of God, as He knows that such prayer serves our highest good. It is for our own benefit in the here and now. So we should endeavor to thank God, regardless of our circumstances!
It is easy to thank the Almighty when things go well with us. But who can rejoice and be thankful amidst calamities? How easy is it to...
thank God when, e.g., one has suddenly lost a beloved person? Yet, this is exactly what we must do: be thankful even when we suffer bereavement. Otherwise, i.e. if we nurture bitterness in our heart, our pain will become worse as we would have closed the door to the great Comforter, even the Spirit of God.
thank God when, e.g., one has suddenly lost a beloved person? Yet, this is exactly what we must do: be thankful even when we suffer bereavement. Otherwise, i.e. if we nurture bitterness in our heart, our pain will become worse as we would have closed the door to the great Comforter, even the Spirit of God.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, and bless his name! For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.” (Psa. 100: 4-5)
When we enter the “gates” of God, either alone, reaching into the holy of holies inside our heart, or with fellow believers in the church, we must be full of praise and thanksgiving. Surely the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting and his truth endures forever. That’s why we should always bless his holy name and give thanks to him. Being pleasant and cheerful under all circumstances glorifies God. Being thankful to God at all times is sanctifying us and renews our strength. It is also a light shining in the spiritual darkness, pointing the way to God.
“Do not be anxious about anything; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4: 6)
Worrying oneself about how to meet one’s needs doesn’t help. It eats up one’s energy and undermines his/her health. It is also unpleasant to those around us and makes one unpopular. We should not be anxious about anything. On the contrary, we should trust God and present our requests to him with thanksgiving in our heart. Then we will have inner peace and the answers to our prayers will be on the way.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4: 2)
There are times when the answers to our prayers seem to tarry. Then we should not be disheartened; but we should continue steadfastly in prayer, even remaining awake during the night, with thanksgiving in our heart.
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Tim.4: 4-5)
Here Paul refers to the believers who still adhered to ceremonial laws and taught people to abstain from certain meats. If we receive our food with thanksgiving in our heart, nothing is to be rejected as unclean. When we consciously apply the word of God and prayer over our food, then all food is blessed and sanctified.
Especially in our days, when most foods are contaminated with chemicals and hormones, one way or another, we need to purify them through prayer and the word of faith so that our health shouldn’t be harmed.
“Giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph.5: 20)
We are to give thanks to God, our Heavenly Father, always and for all things. We should thank him under all circumstances: when things turn up the way we want and when they don’t; when we are happy and when we are sorrowful.
“And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom; and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3: 15b-17)
Paul admonishes Colossians to be thankful towards God the Father. He exhorts them to sing hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in their heart. They should also be thankful in every word they said and every deed they accomplished.
How beautiful our world would be if we were doing our daily duties, even the most humble works, with thanksgiving in our heart! Of course I am not talking about such “duties” as harming or killing one’s fellow human beings in the name of God and for the sake of any profit… I am not talking about terrorists’ acts, “holy” wars and the like…
Supplication is the kind of prayer all humans, even the atheists, have used at some time of their life. It is only natural, in times of danger or distress, that man seeks the help of a superior being. We are all doing it instinctively, even if it is not expressed by words but it is simply the desire of our heart.
Let us see what the Bible has to say on this kind of prayer.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psa. 34: 4)
David, although an anointed king, had all the characteristics and the weaknesses of an ordinary man. When he sinned before the Lord, he was seized by fear. Fear is a crippling and torturing feeling and David would not sit idle resigning himself to its torment. He was a man of faith and prayer, and he earnestly sought the Lord to deliver him from all his fears. And sure enough, God answered his prayers and set him free from the devastating spirit of fear.
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened unto you. For every one who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (…)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7: 7-8, 11)
These are some of the instructions on prayer that Jesus gave to the multitudes during his famous Sermon on the Mount: ‘Ask’ and ‘seek’ and ‘knock’… What is the reason behind this? Is God deaf or blind and we have to be loud and persistent in our requests so that He could eventually take notice of us and answer our prayers? Of course not! Is he unwilling to give us good gifts and so we need to be persevering in our prayers in order to convince him to change his mind and eventually grant us what we have asked for? Not–at-all! If a good human father knows in advance what his children need and does not expect them to beg him on their knees but gives them freely what they want, before they even ask for it, how much more will our heavenly Father give us what we need without asking!
Why, then, Jesus gave such instructions? In order to answer this question we must understand how prayer works. Furthermore, we must clarify in our minds whether we deal with a personal God or just with his sovereign impersonal laws that govern our nature and our relationship with others and the Deity. In my search for the truth on this matter, I have reached the conclusion that we rather deal with the Deity’s sovereign laws.
The answers to our prayers do not fall down from heaven, but we draw them to ourselves in proportion to our faith and persistency. The power to get those answers is released by our own spirit, which is God’s presence within us, i.e. the inherent divine element where God does become personal. The closest definition I could give to prayer is this: prayer is the means of generating and releasing spiritual energy from within in order to effect the fulfillment of one’s wants. The invocation of the name of God in our prayers quickens our spirit, while faith increases the quantity and quality of the energy produced therein. The more we ask and seek and knock, the more will be given to us, the more we shall find, the more doors will be opened! That’s why we should be very cautious what to ask for in prayer lest we violate God’s divine principles and bring judgment on ourselves.
Through the following verses, the above definition of prayer will be further verified.
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us, unto Him be the glory (…).” (Eph. 3: 20-21a)
Surely God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask in our prayers or even think of. But He is limited in what he does by the power that is working in us, i.e. by our faith and the energy it produces in our spirit. In other words, it is our inner man, even our spirit that answers our prayers. If we believed this, we would never complain to God when our prayers are not answered. Nor would we ever hold bitterness in our heart against the Almighty, when things don’t turn up as we anticipated.
“If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” (Prov. 28: 9)
If we do not adhere to the law of God, even our prayer is a repulsive act. When we disregard God’s precepts and violate his sovereign laws, then whatever we ask for in prayer will be detestable. The things we may receive as answers to such prayers could be detrimental to us. Only if our heart and mind are fixed in God can we have the wisdom and the discernment to ask for wholesome things in our prayer.
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matt. 21: 22)
Faith is the substance of things hoped for. (Heb. 11: 1) This substance is absolutely essential in order to have our prayers answered; it is the seed we sow in our spirit to create the necessary energy for the materialization of our requests.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you hold anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11: 24-25)
So strong must be the faith vested in prayer that we should believe that we have already received what we ask for! Note the present perfect tense of the verb: believe that you have received. So firm one’s faith must be, in order for his/her prayer to be effective!
And when we stand in prayer, we must have forgiven all those who have wronged us. Unforgiveness undermines one’s faith and weakens one’s spiritual energy. When we hold in our heart anything against others we don’t have boldness before God. Besides, forgiving others is the prerequisite for our own trespasses to be forgiven by God.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam. 5: 16b)
The prayer of the righteous man, when it is fervent, has great value. Why should one’s prayer be fervent? For this way, it produces more spiritual energy. It appears that faith should be vested with enthusiasm, intensity and emotion in order to be more effective. Prayers that are read from books, as one reads a poem, are not effective.
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears toward their cry. (…) When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psa. 34:15,17)
Is there any divine intervention, beside the person’s own spiritual energy, in answering one’s prayers? Most probably there is. We are not alone in the Universe. There are the angels, God’s ministering spirits – the eyes and the ears of the Lord – and probably the spirits of the deceased saints, which are drawn to the help of the righteous when they cry out to God for deliverance from a difficult situation. However, as the Bible advises us, we should not deliberately enter into communication with such agents lest evil spirits deceive us. We should only pray to God. This is what Jesus said.
“The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” (Psa. 34: 22)
The servants of God, i.e. the servants of righteousness, who take refuge in him through prayer, will be delivered and none of them will be condemned.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” (Psa. 66: 18)
David knows from experience that when he was guilty of sin he didn’t have boldness in his prayers. His faith in God was weak and he didn’t expect his supplications to be answered.
“Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3: 21-22)
John also verifies that in order to have confidence before God our hearts should not condemn us of sin. When we keep God’s commandments and do what is pleasing to him, we receive whatever we ask for in prayer, John said.
Does this mean that a righteous person will never have a prayer unanswered? This is a difficult question! Quite often life proves the opposite…
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15: 7)
These are the words of Jesus: if we abide in his teaching, i.e. if we live a godly life, then we will have our prayers “answered”.
I would very much like to believe this…
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, that you may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4: 3)
If we pray for things to indulge upon, we will not receive. This is a wrong prayer. People who pray for superfluous things, in order to gratify their lusts, will not have enough faith and boldness to support their prayer. Their spirit will not cooperate to produce the necessary energy for it. Consequently their prayers won’t be “answered”, says James.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, unto Him who was able to save him from death, (…).” (Heb. 5: 7)
Jesus himself, during his life and ministry on earth, offered up to God prayers and supplications with strong cries and tears. Jesus knew the power of fervent prayer and he prayed earnestly to God, who was able to save him from death.
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done’.” (Luke 22: 41-42)
In his prayers, Jesus submitted his will to the will of God, setting up an example of how we should pray.
“Likewise, the Spirit also helps us in our infirmities; because we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that cannot be uttered. And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to God’s will.” (Rom. 8: 26-27)
Here we have arrived into deeper spiritual waters. One cannot be taught this kind of prayer nor can one cause it to happen by an act of will. Moreover, one cannot easily explain the origin of the groans that cannot be uttered. Is it born in the Spirit of God, as the Apostle Paul affirms, or is it unction caused by deep emotion? In any case, it manifests in those who pray fervently, while in great need, or intercede earnestly for others in distress, and it has powerful effects.
“When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled; and he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’
Jesus wept. (…) Then Jesus, again groaning in himself, came to the grave; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. (…) So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me’.
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, (…).” (John 11: 33-35, 38, 41-44a)
In this story we see Jesus being troubled and groaning in his spirit when he saw Mary crying for Lazarus, her dead brother. Jesus was greatly moved, for he loved Lazarus and his sister dearly. The miraculous result of his intercession with groaning was the resurrection of Lazarus!
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat nor about your body, what you will wear. (…) Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! (…)
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! (…) Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be given to you as well’.” (Luke 12: 22, 24, 27-28, 31)
In the above verses Jesus suggests that we shouldn’t worry about our physical needs! Instead, we should pray for the kingdom of God, i.e. for our spiritual enlightenment and that of our fellow human beings. Then all the necessary things shall be added to us! Indeed, if we take a look in nature around us we will marvel at how God takes care of all living creatures. How much more, then, will he take care of human beings created in his own image and likeness! Therefore we should have faith in our Maker and not worry too much about our body’s needs.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
But when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (…)
This is how you should pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen’.” (Matt. 6: 5-7, 9-13)
In the above verses, Jesus gives us some golden rules for effective prayer. First of all, one should pray alone in some place of privacy. Thus one will be able to concentrate on God and pour out his/her heart before him without being distracted. This way one’s prayer will be genuine, fervent and effective. On the contrary, if we pray loudly in the midst of a congregation, we may experience either timidity or hesitation to freely express our thoughts. On the other hand, if we are aware that we pray piously and eloquently, we might be puffed up. Both of these attitudes undermine the effectiveness of prayer. So, then, it is preferable for one to pray in secret.
Secondly, one should not use many words and vain repetitions. Idle babbling in prayer is useless and is characteristic of pagans. Unfortunately, it is also characteristic of Christians who rehearse the same words again and again in the Sunday Services of main line Denominations. Intelligent believers should not endorse this kind of prayer. The effectiveness of prayer does not depend on the multitude of words but on the clarity of expression, the purity of heart, the intensity of emotions, and the faith of the person who prays.
How should one pray? Jesus gave us a model for this: “The Lord’s Prayer”. This is the first thing Christians of every denomination learn and recite in their prayers. It is an address to our Father who is in heaven, i.e. in the spiritual realm. God, who is Spirit, is the Father of all men and so we can be sure that he loves us. Consequently we can approach him both with reverence and boldness, as a child approaches his/her father, knowing that he cares for us. Apparently, there is no need for mediators – angels, saints, or even Christ – in order to speak to our heavenly Father. Otherwise Jesus would have said so.
Before we submit our petitions to God, we must give him glory, offering our adoration to him: “Hallowed be thy name”! If we expect to receive mercy and grace from him, we must first praise and honor him for his greatness. Is this a request from our heavenly Father? I don’t believe so. This instruction of Jesus is for our own good, for the preparation of our own heart. To approach God with an attitude of worship is beneficial to us. Besides, if we have the right relationship with God, we have the natural tendency to express our feelings of praise and adoration to him before we submit our petitions.
“Thy kingdom come” – This is the first and noblest petition that Jesus suggested to submit to God when we pray. It is not a request for limited personal benefit but it concerns all mankind. We ask for the kingdom of God, which is spiritual, to come in the hearts of all people. God’s first concern is the spiritual well being of human beings.
“Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” – What is the will of God for the earth? It is not difficult to guess: Peace and love among people, righteousness and justice, health, joy and prosperity. Thus the earth will be more like heaven.
“Give us this day our daily bread” – Man has a physical body that has material needs in order to function properly. However, we must only pray for our daily bread, not for tomorrow’s needs. We must ask God for today’s bare necessities and shouldn’t worry about the future. Jesus leaves no room for greed here. If we have what our body needs today, we should be satisfied and trust God for tomorrow.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors” – What kind of debts should we ask God to forgive us? Surely Jesus is talking about our sins, i.e. the violations of divine principles that might have hurt others and have negative effects on our well-being. We need to acknowledge these debts and, where possible, to make amends to those we have harmed. However, if we expect our sins to be forgiven by God, we must also forgive our debtors. Of course God wants to forgive us, but if we nurture unforgiveness and bitterness in our heart against others, we obstruct God’s mercy and grace on us. Forgiving one’s debtors includes our own selves. God won’t forgive us if we cannot forgive ourselves.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” – Does God lead us into temptation? The answer to this is not easy, moreover since in another verse of the N.T. James tells us: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one.” (Jam. 1:13) However, the Bible (Matt. 4) also tells us that the Spirit of God led Jesus himself into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil! If, then, testing is a necessary process in one’s spiritual growth, can we convince God through our prayers to absolve us from this? To this question every one of us has to seek the answer for each particular instance he/she faces “trial”.
In any case, we should ask God to give us wisdom and discernment to recognize the origin of our “temptation”. We should also be careful to avoid the snares that cause “temptation” to us, i.e. evil people, elusory things, foolish actions, etc. If however we are caught up into temptation, we must surely ask God to deliver us from every evil, while showing us the spiritual lessons we are to be taught from it. We shouldn’t have the slightest doubt that it is His will to deliver us from evil!
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” – The Lord’s Prayer closes with an acknowledgment on our behalf that everything belongs to God. It is a form of praise to the greatness and faithfulness of the Almighty. It is the overflow of a heart full of awe and gratitude towards God.
“Amen”! – This is the summary of our prayer. Let it be so.
“Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like foxes in the deserts, O Israel. You have not gone up into the gaps, neither built up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.” (Ez. 13: 3-5)
The prophets and all God’s representatives on earth, i.e. all devout believers of every faith, have the responsibility to intercede for individuals and nations. Unfortunately, the prophets of Israel used to deliver curses against the “stiff-necked” Jews, instead of building a hedge around them by their intercessions, so that the house of Israel might have stood in the day of the Lord, i.e. the day of judgment.
God does not want anyone to perish. However, in spite of his love for mankind, his sovereign laws work out the destruction of the disobedient. Judgment comes as a consequence of one’s transgressions and not as a direct punishment from God. Otherwise God would not need the prayers of the prophets to stop himself (i.e. the Law) from punishing the transgressors. It is only by the fervent intercessory prayers of the holy prophets of God that the results of such judgments may not be devastating.
“And I sought for a man among them, who would build up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.” (Ezek. 22: 30)
Once again, the Spirit of Jehovah, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, complains that there were no intercessors in Israel who would stand in the gap. God had sought for a man to build up the hedge and stand in the gap between him and the land so that he wouldn’t destroy it in the day of judgment. But he had found none! Not even Ezekiel! It is surprising that Ezekiel, who spoke this on behalf of Jehovah, did not offer up himself to be the intercessor God was looking for! Presumably his love for the people and his understanding of God’s heart versus his sovereign laws had not been perfected.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. (…)
I desire therefore that men should pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without anger or doubting.” (1 Tim. 2: 1-2, 8)
The believers should not pray only for themselves and their own families. It is their duty to intercede for the whole society, lifting up holy hands with faith and love for all people. Especially the intercessors should pray for those in authority that they might receive wisdom and govern soberly, creating the right conditions for a peaceful and decent life for every citizen.
“You also, like living stones, be built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 5)
Peter exhorts Christians to be built into a spiritual house, like living stones, so that they may become a united holy priesthood. As the priests in the Old Testament offered animal sacrifices on behalf of all people, so should Christians offer their intercessions for the world as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. The same rule applies to the devotees of every other faith. If they are holy and united, their prayers are acceptable to God, i.e. effective.
IV: Spiritual Warfare
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage a carnal war; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. We cast down arguments and every pretension that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10: 3-5)
The true believer or the servant of righteousness is someone whose main purpose in life is to advance the spiritual kingdom of God on earth. Such a person is a divine “soldier”, as he/she continuously wages war against the spiritual strongholds that oppose divine principles from being established in society. The righteous man fights against the interests of evil spiritual agents that promote destruction, corruption and the gratification of man’s passions in this world.
In this non-carnal war, man is not left without proper weapons. Through the word of God, the soldier of righteousness can cast down every argument that opposes the knowledge of the Truth, and can bring into captivity every evil thought, so that it may not come to fruition.
“Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Therefore, put on the full armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand firm then, having girded your loins with truth; and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To this end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all saints.” (Eph. 6: 10-18)
There is a vicious war going on in the spiritual realm that affects primarily the children of light, i.e. God’s representatives on earth.
In the above verses Paul affirms that the believers wrestle not against carnal forces but against spiritual powers of wickedness in high places. These are the instigators and rulers of the moral darkness in the world. Paul exhorts the believers to make use of all the weapons that are available. He describes in detail the spiritual armor that each believer should always “wear”, in order to stand against the wiles of the devil.
The first and more important piece of our spiritual armor must be the girdle of truth.Truth is like a girdle that one must fasten around his loins, as the soldier is girded around with his belt. To gird up one’s loins is to prepare for action, in this case for spiritual warfare. Truth then is our girdle. We must be sincere in our relationship with God, truthful towards our inner man, i.e. our conscience, and towards our fellow human beings. Lies form holes in our girdle and make us vulnerable to the attacks of the wicked powers.
Second in importance piece of one’s spiritual armor is the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness includes all virtues, but primarily justice and love, and is likened to the breastplate of a soldier. The breastplate protects one’s heart from the attacks of his/her enemies. So does righteousness. It fortifies one’s heart so that it shouldn’t fall into the temptations of evil.
Third piece of one’s military armor is proper shoes. A soldier’s shoes of brass defend his feet against the gall-traps and all kinds of sharp objects so that he can march unobstructed against the enemy. Likewise, the believer must be well prepared to take the message of peace and love to all men, marching ahead without being endangered. Readiness to move for such a high mission means wearing the right spiritual shoes. Thus the believer will protect his/her feet from being hurt by poisonous thorns such as persecutions, provocations and temptations. Enthusiasm, love, wisdom and patience are the best material for such shoes.
Fourth and very important piece of armor for a soldier is the shield. Likewise, the soldier of righteousness needs to hold firmly his spiritual shield, which is faith. By turning the shield of faith in every possible direction, the believer is able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked, and render them ineffective. In the hour of temptation, faith in God and his love for us, like a mighty shield, will protect us from being hurt and enable us to stand firm and triumph over evil.
Fifth is the helmet, another crucial piece of armor for the warrior. It protects his head. So the helmet of the spiritual warrior will protect his mind from deception, confusion and despair. With the helmet of salvation, i.e. confidence of one’s standing with God, in place, one gains confidence and boldness in his/her conflicts with negative spiritual agents.
Last but not least among the warrior’s equipment is the sword. It is the only offensive piece of armor. All the previous ones are defensive. With his/her sword the warrior attacks the enemy in a body-to-body battle. For the spiritual warrior his/her sword is the word of God, i.e. the inspired scriptures. Even Jesus repelled Satan’s temptations in the wilderness with the word of God. The scriptures tell us that the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. The use of the word of God presupposes that one knows the inspired scriptures well so that in each occasion one can answer with the appropriate: “it is written…”
Having all the spiritual armor in place, the believer must constantly pray. One should be in an attitude of prayer always, attaching it to all other parts of his/her spiritual weapons. Thus one is imploring the assistance of God in every instance of his/her spiritual battle. The spiritual warrior must use all kinds of prayer: praise, thanksgiving, supplication, groaning (if it comes naturally), and other tongues (1 Cor. 14: 15). Confession of one’s sins (to God) should also be an integral part of prayer, as we saw in the example Jesus gave to us.
All prayers, however, must be offered to God in the Spirit. Unless we approach God with the inner man, i.e. our spirit, connection with him cannot be established. Words and emotions are not sufficient to connect us to God unless our spirit is involved. The scriptures give us no specific technique of how one could pray in the Spirit. However, with practice, one would know in his heart whether his prayer is in the Spirit or just a hypocritical lip service.
On the top of all this, one should pray for the needs of all other spiritual warriors (saints) with perseverance.
Next I shall quote some scriptures that one could memorize in order to use them, as a spiritual sword, when one feels attacked by evil. Personally I have often consciously recited them, believing that these are God’s words addressed to me, and have experienced great relief and uplifting of my spirit. Reciting them, mentally or verbally, generates strength and peace in my soul helping me to overcome evil in the hour of temptation.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward Him.” (2 Chr. 16: 9a)
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall render ineffective. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, says the Lord.” (Isa. 54: 17)
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isa. 59: 19b)
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.” (Psa. 34: 19-21)
“You shall be protected from the lash of the tongue; and you shall not fear the coming destruction.” (Job 5: 21)
“And even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, these comfort me.” (Psa. 23: 4)
“Do not be afraid of sudden panic, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it comes; for the Lord shall be your confidence and shall keep your foot from being caught.” (Prov. 3: 25-26)
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust’. For he will deliver you from the fowlers’ snare and from the deadly pestilence. He shall cover you with his feathers and under his wings you shall be safe; his truth shall be your armor and shield.
You shall not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day; nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness; nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall on your left side, ten thousand on your right, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, and no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.
‘Because he loves me’, says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will set him on high, because he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and I will honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation’.” (Psa. 91)
“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isa. 40: 31)
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.” (Prov. 26: 2)
The essence of all the above scriptures is that patience, unwavering faith, righteousness and love of God and men form a protective shield around us that enables us to live a more safe, peaceful and happy life.