In this final part of the series, we will see what it means to pray in the Spirit, and why that is a crucial part of God’s armor.
Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) says: “praying 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,”.
But to get to the deepest truth of what this means, we need to actually go to the original Greek, and look at both verse 17 and verse 18, because they are one sentence.
That translation sounds something like this: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, through all prayer and supplication, praying in every season in the Spirit, and unto this very thing, watching with all perseverance and supplication for all saints,”.
That is quite a long sentence Paul writes here (and this is not even all of it) so let’s break it down so that it’s easier to chew.
The first pointer he gives us is to take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit through all prayer and supplication. I read the Bible in various English translations, and none of them translates this verse true to the original text. And as you can see, reading it right, makes a lot of difference in this case.
Paul teaches us that when we pray, we should hold on to the promise of salvation and the Word of God. Of course, you can do this literally, by praying out of the Bible (for example by using Psalms, the Lord’s prayer, and other prayers), there is nothing wrong with that. But I believe he also means that we should pray a) with the faith that we will see God’s promises come to pass, and b) with the truth of His Word in mind.
For example, if you know what is in the Word of God, you won’t go praying that you need the latest, most expensive smartphone because your friend has one.
With the Helmet and the Sword, you will pray from a heart that wants to glorify God, wants to put Jesus at the center, demonstrates love for other people, and rests in knowing that God is faithful. You will know that you are in good hands, and you will pray accordingly, without trying to tell God what He should do.
Not just needs
Since English is not my native language, I had a bit of a hard time understanding the meaning of the word supplication. My dictionary tells me that it means asking or begging for something earnestly and humbly. And since Paul mentions prayer and supplication separately, he teaches us to see them as two different things.
When we talk to God we should not just be begging. Why not tell Him that you love Him and that you are grateful for Who He is and what He does? The Psalms give plenty of inspiration for a healthy prayer life. Having said that, God is a truly good Father, so you can’t really go wrong, but just like your whole armor becomes stronger over time, we can all get better at praying, when we grow to be more like Him.
Pray in every season
He tells us that we should pray in every season. That means not just when things don’t go well, because it is easy to remember that you need God then, but also when they do go well, and you have a lot to celebrate. If your prayer life just consists of supplication for yourself and maybe your inner circle, this is going to be hard. Because then you will have nothing to say to God when things do go well.
Praying in every season also means in every stage of our walk with God. If your relationship with God feels like it is cooled down like winter, you should pray. If your relationship with God feels like spring, you should pray. If you are sowing seeds for God’s Kingdom, you should pray. If you are reaping the harvest, you should pray. If you are enjoying nature in the sun, you should pray. If the rains flood your city, you should pray. Pray through the good times and the bad, and through every season in between.
Praying in the Spirit
I believe, based on the rest of this text and my understanding of Scripture, that this means that we should always pray with help from the Spirit, Who guides us in what to pray for. Paul doesn’t say anything about the form of the prayer. The text doesn’t say that we have to pray in tongues, or that we should recite a certain prayer a certain way. He simply says that the Holy Spirit should be our Guide in all of this. The Spirit sometimes prompts us to pray for someone specific, or He fuels us with a need to be alone with God, or He tells us to ask for forgiveness for a certain sin, or He fills us with joy and gratitude for God, and so much more.
This is a similar concept to praying in Jesus’ Name. Many of us have forgotten what that actually means. It means that our prayers should be guided by Jesus’ authority and reputation, not our own. So in accordance with His character, His love, His faithfulness, etc. And Who can do this better than His own Spirit?
To be able to pray in the Spirit in every season, we need to be awake. We need to be on the lookout for the needs of other Christians so that the whole body of Christ lacks nothing.
If we are aware of what we need to glorify God more, and also what our brothers and sisters in Christ need, we can humbly ask God to supply us.
My husband and I have made it our habit for years now, to pray together before bedtime. Before we do that, he always asks me who I want to pray for. Because during the day, I keep my eyes and ears open, to any needs that I come across. And on the rare occasion that I don’t come across anything specific, I ask the Holy Spirit what I should pray for. Like I said before, when you pray in line with the Spirit, you pray in Jesus’ Name, and that is a sure way to get your prayers answered.
About three years ago, when my husband and I had no extra money to buy clothes, I prayed for walking shoes, so that we could save some money and at the same time exercise more by traveling on foot. Amazingly, the next day, my sister who was completely unaware of this, offered me her pair of brand new high-quality trainers, which she bought but were a bit too big for her. And of course, they fit me perfectly! I was so surprised that He answered my prayer so fast and so specifically. He really felt like a Father to me, arranging things in a way that worked out for my good and His glory. (Because of course I told everyone how cool my Daddy was.)
There are so many examples of God pulling through for us, not only when it comes to physical stuff like food and necessities, but He also provides healing, comfort, time, energy, encouragement, really all that one can think of when it comes to everyday needs. His faithfulness to me is so evident, that it would be incredibly hard for me to deny it.
I’m not going to say never, because Peter thought that he could never deny Jesus, but he did it three times (John 18). All I know is that day after day I see His hand providing for us and helping us in ways I can’t fathom. Often in unexpected ways, He timely provides what we need for the ministry and what we need to relax and recharge.
Of course, God has told me “no” sometimes, when I wanted something that the Spirit did not want for me, and sometimes He even gave me a reason for that. And that’s more than okay. Because I know that God is not a genie in a bottle to fulfill all my wishes, and thank God He isn’t. Because with that kind of power I would have made a mess of the world.
A final word
You’ve just read the final part of the series on the armor of God. If you read all 7 parts, you now know why we must wear all of God’s armor all of the time and how our eternal life depends on the quality of our spiritual defense.
We are living in a dark and treacherous world, but God leads the way with all the tools you need to come out of the war stronger, bolder, and better.
The challenge you are facing might seem like a giant no one dares to go up against, but remember:
Any battle can be won, when you are wearing the armor God has given you. So go get that victory!
Click on any of the links below to read about another piece of armor. Or read them all to see how they all work together.
Part 2: The Breastplate of Righteousness
Part 3: The Shoes of Readiness
Part 5: The Helmet of Salvation