Christian Churches of God
Putting on the Armour of God Through Prayer
(Edition 2.0 20080720-20080720)
Ephesians 6:11ff. teaches us to put on the Armour of God. After each of the six pieces of armour is listed, Paul encourages us to pray always as we watch with perseverance for the return of Jesus Christ. This lesson was developed using the paper Teach Us to Pray (No. 111).
Putting on the Armour of God Through Prayer
We continue our series on the Armour of God.
Ephesians 6:11-18 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
The Armour of God is comprised of six elements: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.
Six is the number of man and six deals with creative works prior to the Sabbath rest. Here we see the same type of concept that there are six features to the armour of Eloah that He has given to man to use.
We know that Truth is the undergarment of all aspects of the armour of Eloah (Eph. 6:14; 2Tim. 2:15-25). Through truth we are able to use the other elements of the Armour of Eloah. Truth is central to the Faith. No lie is of the truth (1Jn. 2:21).
18 Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (RSV)
This also seems to tie to the concept that if we are not obeying Eloah, He does not hear our prayers (Isa. 59:2; Ps. 66:18, Prov. 15:8; 28:9). If we are going against Eloah’s ways we cut ourselves off from Him. Without truth we can do nothing because we will be led into error and lead others into error.
Prayer seems to take on the seventh unifying element to the armour of Eloah. The number seven denotes spiritual perfection. It reflects the work of the Holy Spirit as the power of God. Prayer is like a 7th component of the armour of Eloah and is the way we are able to access the Holy Spirit and make our needs known to Eloah.
Immediately following the description of the Armour of God, Paul tells us to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”. It is through prayer that we are able to put on the Armour of God. It is like the glue that holds all the pieces of the armour together. It is an intricate part of our relationship with God and enables us to successfully put on this armour each day. Through prayer, our salvation is developed, knowledge of the truth and the word of God are expanded, faith is strengthened, righteousness is encouraged, and we are able to have peace in our lives because we can give our problems to God. Without prayer, our relationship with God is unable to grow.
Sometimes, the need for prayer is difficult for us to understand. We know that God is all-knowing, so why do we need to talk to Him about things that He already knows? And why would we need to ask Him for things, when Scripture tells us He already knows our needs?
The irony lies in the fact that it is only through the actual process of prayer that the answers to these questions become clear. When we begin to be consistent with our prayers on a daily basis, and the evidence of our answered prayers becomes clear, we can then begin to understand that prayer is a necessary tool that we can use to communicate with and offer praise to our loving Father, God.
In the Book of Revelation, our prayers are compared to incense.
Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;
We learned in Altar of Incense (No. CB109) that the incense was to burn continually, night and day. We can think of this as all of our collective prayers being before God continually.
In this lesson, we will explore six simple questions about prayer:
1. Why do we pray?
2. Whom do we pray to?
3. How do we prepare for prayer?
4. Where do we pray?
5. When do we pray?
6. What do we pray about?
Why do we pray?
The Psalms teach us that God knows the thoughts of men. So, if He knows our thoughts, why do we need to pray?
Psalm 94:11: “…He who teaches man knowledge, the LORD, knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.” (RSV unless otherwise noted.)
Most often we pray because we need God to help us with something. When we are desperate for God’s help we tend to pray fervently and frequently. However, we forget that we were created for God’s glory.
Isaiah 43:7 “Every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (RSV)
It is easy to forget that our main purpose in life is to glorify God through our actions and words. We need to pray in order to glorify God and establish a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. We can’t develop a very good relationship with God if we don’t learn how to communicate with Him. And our form of communication is prayer.
If we spend most of our time glorifying God and focusing on the magnificence of Him, it will help us in our everyday life as we deal with tough situations. In glorifying God we remember that He is all-powerful and is there to help in times of need.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (RSV)
We also need to pray because we look to Jesus Christ as our teacher and we want to follow his example.
Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (NKJV).
Pay particular attention to the second word. Christ said, when you pray, he did not say if you pray. The vain repetitions of the heathen refers to the chanting of mantras to bring on a trance which can open their minds to demonic influence. Obviously, this is something that we, as Christians, do not want to participate in.
Jesus gave us examples of his prayers to God which show us the importance of a strong prayer life. A tremendous example of prayer by Jesus Christ was right before he was betrayed when he prayed so fervently that his sweat is described as being like great drops of blood.
Luke 22:39-44 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Jesus also teaches us that when we pray we ask in his name.
John 14:13-14: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
Jesus is our great High Priest. He is the intercessor for all of our prayers. That is why we must pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. He is at the right hand of God the Father and brings our prayers to Him.
We must realize that when we ask God for something in prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, that it must be according to God’s will. We cannot ask for things that are contrary to the Law of God or don’t have a place in God’s plan. This would be like mocking the name of Jesus Christ.
Whom do we pray to?
This is an extremely important aspect of prayer. If we are not praying to God in the name of Jesus Christ, then He will not listen to our prayers.
Jesus Christ tells us that we are to ONLY worship God the Father.
Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You
shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
He was quoting from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:13: “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his name.”
We are to worship before the Lord our God (Deut. 26:10; 1Sam. 1:3; 15:25). Is this God made up of two, or even three persons? No! Can we say that Jesus Christ, the son of God, is God as God the Father is God? The answer is definitely “NO”. Jesus Christ never prayed to himself, he always prayed to his Father in heaven.
Jesus is spoken of as God (Jn. 1:1), even as mighty God (Isa. 9:6), but nowhere is he spoken of as being The Almighty God (Gen. 17:1). Jesus in no way seeks the position of his Father (Lk. 4:8). Jesus is a god, but he is not the One True God. He is a separate spirit being, but through his obedience he is one with the Father, just like we are to be one with God (See the paper Who is God? (No. CB1).)
Christ tells us that the object of our worship is the Father and not himself.
John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. (NIV)
Other Scriptures to read which reference God as our object of worship include:
1Corinthians 8:5-6: “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"-- yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”
How do we prepare for prayer?
When we go to God the Father in prayer, we must ask Him in faith.
Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (NIV).
James 1:5-8: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.”
Here in these two Scriptures the Bible gives us clear instruction that we are to ask in faith.
Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Thus, we see by putting all these Scriptures together that in order for our prayers to be effective we must have faith, and we must believe the following three things:
· There is a God in Heaven.
· God hears our prayers.
· God answers our prayers.
We must also remember that sometimes God’s answer to our prayers isn’t what we are looking for, or His timing is different from ours. Sometimes God makes us wait in order to learn patience and overcome sin, or learn certain lessons. Or maybe He has something else in mind for us. We must remember that God will act in the best time for the purpose He has determined.
Romans 8:28: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
Prayer is not a matter of forcing God to do the things we ask, but coming to God in absolute faith that what we need will be given to us.
Have a repentant attitude
The Bible also teaches us that sin can interfere with our prayers.
Isaiah 59:1-2: “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear.”
If we know that we all sin, then we can understand that this Scripture is showing us that we need to talk with God about our sins, say we are sorry, and ask God to help us repent. We do not want our sins to continually separate us from God.
Proverbs 28:9: “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
This shows us how important God’s Law is, and how we need to strive to follow it continually.
Along with this is the instruction in Mark 11:25.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
If we want God to forgive us of our sins (and we just learned we need Him to), we must forgive other people who have wronged us.
Have a humble attitude
We also need to humble ourselves before we pray.
Luke 18:10-14: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Have a thankful attitude
As we learned earlier, God has created us for His glory. We must always be thankful for the blessings that God has given us, knowing that even in times of trial He is developing us and working all things to our good.
Philippians 4:6 “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Where do we pray?
We are to pray in private.
Matthew 6:5-6: "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 and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
What about praying together with our family, or in Church? Does the Bible give us an example?
Acts 12:11-12: “And Peter came to himself, and
said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the
hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’ When he
realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other
name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.”
Here, a group of people were praying together, but like the example given by Christ, they were praying together in the privacy of a home.
When we pray together, one thing we don’t do is hold hands in a circle. This practice comes from ancient pagan religions and is not an example that we want to set as Christians. Instead, being together in a room, with everyone in agreement with the prayer, and saying “amen” together is more in line with the biblical teachings.
When do we pray?
The easiest answer is to quote scripture which says we are to pray constantly. But what does this really mean?
1Thessalonians 5:17-18: “…pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Some translations say pray without ceasing. This does not mean we must pray all of the time, but rather that we should be in a proper attitude, ready for prayer at all times.
Another example in the Bible comes from Daniel.
Daniel 6:10: “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem; and he got down upon his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”
Daniel’s example is a good one for us. If we pray at night before we go to bed, when we get up in the morning and in the afternoon, we have the opportunity to include God in all parts of our day. By taking the time to pray before we fall asleep, we are able to thank God for each and every day. In the morning, by praying we are showing God that we recognize our need for Him every day and we are able to ask Him to guide us throughout the day. By praying some time during the middle of the day, we remember that God is more important than our physical day-to-day routine. By making time for God we remind ourselves that God is our number-one priority.
In ancient Israel, the morning and evening sacrifices were at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
We are to be gathered in prayer at the time the incense was offered and that is why at the Feasts the services are typically at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Luke and 1Chronicles both indicate the time of the sacrifices.
Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside the hour of the incense offering.
Here we see an indication that when we meet with our brothers on God’s Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feast and Holy Days, we should be assembled in prayer and study at the times of the morning and evening offering.
1Chronicles 23:30-31 … and to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even; and to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the Sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the Lord: (NASV)
God is not looking for sacrifices now but that we have a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). We do need to be worshiping and obeying the One True God all the time. Therefore, a good time for prayer each day is 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
What do we pray about?
Although there is no right or wrong answer for this question, the Bible does give us some guidelines for things to include in our prayers, and things that we should be thinking about when praying.
Pray for the Armour of God
Each day we should pray that God would strengthen us by placing his armour on us. We can pray for the helmet of salvation, the breastpiece of righteousness, the belt of truth, to have our feet shod with the gospel of peace, the sword of the spirit, and the shield of faith. We have learned in this series, that individually, each piece of God’s armour is an intricate part of our salvation and plays an important part in God’s plan.
Pray for the Fruit of God’s Spirit
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (RSV)
Each day we can pray that God will give us His Holy Spirit and that the fruit of God’s Spirit will be evident in our lives.
See Lesson: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit (No. CB85) for more information on the fruit of God’s Spirit.
Use the model prayer
For other things we should pray about, we can use the model prayer that Jesus gave to us.
Matthew 6:9-13: “Pray then like this: 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 have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.”
For some children who have attended other churches, this prayer may be familiar. They may have memorized it, and repeated it often in large groups. However, we must look at what Jesus Christ was saying. He said “Pray then LIKE this”. He did not say to chant the words of this prayer repeatedly in meaningless repetition. This is a model and the structure of this prayer should be the pattern of our prayer.
This prayer includes some of the following elements:
· Begin by worshipping God, glorifying Him and focusing on His goodness.
· Our prayers must be in harmony with the will of God. We need to include God in our plans from the beginning and not start praying about something as a last resort. This helps remind us that we want to follow God’s will, and not our own.
· Pray for our needs, both physical and spiritual. Let’s look at what Luke teaches us.
Luke 11:13: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
· We must ask God that His Holy Spirit would work with us. We know that it is only through repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands that we actually receive God’s Holy Spirit. However, it begins working with us long before baptism, moving us toward God and His way of life.
· Pray for forgiveness for our shortcomings. By asking for forgiveness from God we are acknowledging our sin against God. But this forgiveness comes only with a price. We must forgive others, so that we can be forgiven.
Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
· Pray for God’s protection. Remember that God is our ultimate protector.
Other examples of things to pray for:
· Pray for the needs of others.
Ephesians 6:18-19: “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” Here Paul is giving us instruction to pray for all of the saints, which are defined in Revelation 14:12 as “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
· Pray for the widows and orphans.
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (RSV)
· Pray for our leaders.
1Timothy 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings 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.”
· Pray for our enemies.
Luke 6:28: “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. (HNV)”
When all else fails
When we are not sure what to pray for, we are given assistance through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:26-27: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. 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 the will of God.”
God’s Spirit will direct us to pray for things according to the will of God.
If we keep in mind the answers to these six questions, which include Why, Whom, How, Where, When, and What, we can begin our journey to a successful life, full of prayer. Always remember that the primary object and purpose of prayer should be to glorify God and to establish a relationship with Him. Prayer is more than just repeating words. It is the establishing of a vital contact between God and the self through Jesus Christ.