"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." NIVPaul wraps up this passage on putting on the Armor of God with "And pray." It's not a "possibly pray" or "maybe pray." He says, "And pray." Donning all that protection, no matter how powerful it is, will be ineffective if we do not keep the communication lines open between us and the Master. The supreme commander of the army needs to speak to His troops and His troops must communicate with Him -- at all times in many different ways. I would love to sit down with Paul and hear about his "all kinds of prayers." I don't see him discussing in his other books about different kinds of prayers. But in any case, prayer is less a method and more an attitude.
If I come before my God dressed in the armor and power He has made available to me as His child and soldier of the gospel, ready to face the fiery darts of the enemy, armed with the power of His Word, I'd better come in humility. As I walk through my day, I'm facing an enemy and his temptations that I have no power to face on my own. I face dangers that could take my life. (Well, have you been on a California highway lately?) I must make regular decisions that could change the direction of my life. I cannot imagine going through each day without my Lord's guidance. Do I listen perfectly? Sadly, no. My ears often become clouded with the clamor, chaos, distractions, fear and selfishness of my human nature. But in my continual efforts to please my Lord, to put off the old self and wear the new, to live a life pleasing to the Master, I strive to listen closer for His voice. And the more time I spend with Him, in prayer and meditation on His Word, the clearer the resonance of His voice becomes.
When our oldest daughter, Lauren, was born, practically the entire family was at the hospital. They were all outside the nursery window as she was screaming through her first bath. Even drying her off and bundling her up didn't calm her down. But so the family could take better pictures, the nurse kindly opened the door and held our screaming baby up for all to see. Of course, I wasn't there, but my husband was videotaping the whole event. On the tape you can hear all the family talking to Lauren, welcoming her to the world, and she is loudly voicing her complaints. Then, her daddy speaks. "Lauren, it's your daddy." She instantly quiets. In the midst of the dozen voices coming at her, as well as her own screams in her ears, she recognizes her daddy's voice.
Oh, how I want to be able, in every situation, to tune out the chaos and clamor and hear my Daddy's voice. When I'm working under a ridiculous deadline; when I'm in the middle of swearing, angry parents at my daughter's softball game; when I'm racing through the crowded mall; when I'm sitting on an airplane; when I'm facing criticism; when I'm disciplining my child; when I'm tired and alone or when I'm ecstatically happy. "On all occasions," I want to hear what my Father is saying to me. I can't do any of this alone - armored or not. I desperately need His voice.
Lord, open my ears to Your voice and Yours alone. I cannot do any of this without You. Whatever Your will, I am listening.
- If you don't know how to pray, beginning with how Jesus taught the disciples to pray. Read Matthew 6:9-13.
- Outline Jesus' prayer in Matthew 6. What are the basic points He covers in His prayer?
- Read through some of Jesus' prayers. (i.e. Luke 22:39-44, John 17:1-26)
- How are prayer and humility connected? (Read 2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 6:5-8. Find other examples in Scripture.)
- Set your phone or calendar to remind you to pray. (At the link, see Further Thoughts, #4)
- For parents, take time each morning to pantomime with your children putting on their armor. Here's how we did it when the kids were little, "The helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, our feet ready to spread the gospel and peace, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit." Then the kids said, "Are we dressed yet?" and we all said, "Yes." Then they said, "What are we going to do for God today?" And we all listed what we were doing that day -- school, work, playing with friends.... And we had prayer. It's a good way to start your day, too.