And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requestsEphesians 6:18a
There is a strong and powerful relationship between putting on the armor of God and praying. These two things belong together; in fact, one grows out of the other. It is not enough to put on the armor of God; you must also pray. It is not enough to pray; you must also have put on the armor of God. It is impossible to divide these two. Putting on the armor is essentially something that is done in the realm of your thought life. It is an adjustment of the attitude of your heart to reality, to things as they really are. It is thinking through the implications of the fact that revelation discloses. This is always the necessary thing to do in trying to face life.
The apostle does not reverse this and say,
First pray, and then put on the armor of God. This is what we try to do, and this is why our prayer life is so feeble, so impotent. There is great practical help here if we follow carefully the designated order of Scripture. I think most Christians would confess that they are dissatisfied with their prayer life. They feel it is inadequate and perhaps infrequent. Sometimes we struggle to improve the quality as well as the quantity of our prayer lives. Sometimes we adopt schedules we attempt to maintain or long lists of names and projects and places we try to remember in prayer. In other words, we begin with the doing, but when we do this we are starting at the wrong place. The place to start is not with the doing, but with the thinking.
Prayer follows putting on the armor of God. It is a natural, normal outgrowth. I am not suggesting that there is no place for Christian discipline; there is. I am not suggesting that we will not need to take our wills and put them to a task and follow through. There is this need. But the place where discipline should come in is not in praying first, but in doing what is involved in
putting on the armor of God. First, think through the implications of our faith, and then prayer will follow naturally much more easily. When it comes in that order, it will be thoughtful prayer, prayer that has meaning and significance.
This is the problem with much of our praying now. It is so shallow, so superficial. Sometimes our prayers are only a cut above the simple childhood prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. What is needed? Prayer should be an outgrowth of thoughtfulness about the implications of faith. This adds depth, meaning, and significance to it. Prayer should be pointed and purposeful.
If you take the whole range of Bible teaching on this great subject of prayer, you will find that underlying all the biblical presentation is the idea that prayer is conversation with God. What the apostle is saying is,
After you have put on the armor of God, after you have thought through the implications of your faith in the ways that have been suggested previously, then talk to God about it. Tell Him the whole thing. Tell Him your reactions, tell Him how you feel, describe your relationship to life around you, and ask Him for what you need.
Forgive me for the way I have looked at prayer as though it were insignificant and optional. Help me to take it seriously. Help me to realize that You have made this my point of contact with You. Teach me to pray.
Do we struggle to pray, or feel we pray too infrequently or inadequately, or realize our prayers are indeed superficial? How can we talk with God in a real & relevant way?