Spiritual Warfare 101.2: Fighting back with the armor of God
In my previous post, I offered an introduction to spiritual warfare, including why we often become discouraged when we engage in consistent intercessory prayer. The enemy wants to keep us from praying for others effectively and persistently, and he will try to deceive us into thinking that our prayers are not making a difference and are a waste of time and energy.
God has not left us defenseless in these matters. We are not sitting ducks in the midst of the spiritual battlefield; we are fully-equipped soldiers with armor and weapons of our own (Eph. 6:10–17). (All Bible verses are taken from the NIV.)
Here is a step-by-step inventory of the armor of God, including examples of how to use each piece in the heat of battle. Just as the pieces of a well-made suit of armor overlap to provide appropriate protection, you’ll find that these pieces of spiritual armor overlap in their protective purposes:
The belt of truth (Eph. 6:14).
Deception is one of Satan’s foremost weapons. Indeed, it is the first weapon he ever deployed and, quite tellingly, the weapon that led to mankind’s fall (Gen. 3:1). Counter every lie with truth from God’s Word.
The lie: “God isn’t listening to your prayers.”
The truth: 1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
More truth: Psalm 55:16–17 – As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
The lie: “If God was going to answer your prayers, He would have done so by now.”
The truth: Psalm 37:7 – Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
More truth: Habakkuk 2:3 – For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
The breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14).
The enemy may try to discourage us from intercession by reminding us of the sins we have struggled with in the past or with which we continue to struggle. “Who are you to make requests of a holy God?” he accuses.
If you have accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross as payment for your sins, God no longer sees you as a sinner. Instead, when God looks at you, He sees the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24).
We should never be ashamed to approach God in prayer, as Jesus Himself understands our struggles and is interceding for us:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:15–16
Feet fitted with … the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15).
God’s responses to our prayers sometimes take a different form than we anticipate, which may lead to us becoming frustrated or angry that things didn’t turn out the way we expected. Anger and frustration are not ungodly emotions in and of themselves (see Mark 9:19; 11:15–17). If they are not properly dealt with, however, the enemy can use these emotions against us, encouraging us to focus on the results we wanted to see rather than what God has purposed to do.
The shield of faith (Eph. 6:16).
Your shield is your first line of defense – if used appropriately, it will enable you to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” before they even connect with the other pieces of your armor (Eph. 6:16). Note how the shield of faith doesn’t just extinguish “some” of the enemy’s arrows; it extinguishes “all” of them.
We use the shield of faith by choosing to believe God and His Word instead of the lies of the enemy. When confronted with Truth Himself, the father of lies doesn’t stand a chance (John 8:44b).
The helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17).
When we are engaged in persistent prayer, it can be tempting to focus only on our own agenda in regards to the people, nations, industries, etc. for whom we are praying. We may think we know what they need and what will be best for them, but – as seen in the protective footwear section – God may have other things in mind.
Some of the things that God wants us to pray for are readily discernible in His Word: love, healing, justice, mercy, for glory to be brought to His name. There may be other things that God wants us to pray for that are not as obvious, however, and we can ask Him to reveal these things to us as we pray.
The enemy would like nothing better than for us to follow only our own agenda in prayer, presenting a wish list of blessings and bondage-breakings to the LORD instead of engaging in prayerful dialogue with Him. Through prayer and the study of His Word, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).
The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).
As I have demonstrated throughout this post, our ultimate weapon in our fight against the enemy is God’s Word as revealed through the Bible. Jesus gives us a picture-perfect example of how to use the Word as a weapon in Matthew 4:1–11, when He is tempted by Satan after fasting for forty days and forty nights.
I encourage you to continue to intercede with all persistence and to use the armor of God to stand strong against any and all attacks of the enemy.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
– Teresa Santoski
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