How intensely have you ever prayed? How desperate have you been in talks with the Lord? Sometimes our ability to pray effectively is so obscured by confusion or anguish we do not know how to reach the Almighty. There are many reasons why prayer is difficult, but when an obstacle to prayer is detected, the Bible gives us excellent tools to battle through the obstacle, remove it, and break through to victory and answers.
Keep this verse foremost in your thoughts—like a banner over your mind—as you go before the Lord in prayer: the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man [or woman] avails much (James 5:16). The Greek meaning of effectual fervent means to be operative, be at work, and put forth power. It is the word energeo, from which we get energy and energetic. Prayer is work. It is active and alive because it is a discourse with Almighty God, and He is a fantastic communicator! Our words matter to God, and our approach and technique in prayer often determine how effective and powerful the outcome will be.
When an obstacle is blocking your communication with the Lord, or you sense resistance in getting answers or release during prayer, it becomes necessary to engage in spiritual warfare to stand up to the devil and his plans of defeat. Remember, his mission is threefold: to steal, kill, and destroy our hopes, dreams, destinies in God, health, finances, and anything he can get his grip on (John 10:10). He is a legalist and will take advantage of any open door of vulnerability we give him, including sin such as lying, stealing, perversion, fornication, adultery, addictions, greed, anger, etc. The list is spelled out in various scriptures like Galatians 6:19-21, Mark 7:21-23, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
James 4:7 (NIV) gives us instructions for success in life, prayer, and spiritual conflict: Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes resisting the devil requires certain spiritual weapons. Ephesians 6:14-17 describes the spiritual armor we need during spiritual conflict: Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Paul likened the armor to that worn by Roman soldiers. Studying each piece of spiritual armor is fascinating. A brief description of these powerful defense weapons is given below:
Belt of truth—A Roman soldier’s long, flowing skirt could easily get tangled in his legs or cause him to trip, so a tight, unyielding belt was necessary to prevent such annoyances. He had to free himself of all encumbrances so he could run with great speed. In the same way, we must be people of truth, honesty, and transparency of character, unyielding to even the slightest hint of secrecy or deception, for untruth will impede our ability to finish our race well. Untruthfulness masks the character of Christ in us and compromises the effectiveness of all the pieces of armor.
Breastplate of righteousness—The breastplate protected a soldier’s heart from enemy darts, swords, or blows. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) tells us, above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. The NLT says, guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Furthermore, Proverbs 23:7 says, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. What we contemplate in our hearts determines how we act and become. A way to polish your spiritual breastplate and protect your heart and thoughts is to take Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8 and think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. That produces a heart of love and righteousness, making an impenetrable weapon against evil.
Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace—Roman soldiers wore strong, heavy shoes that extended up the calves. They enabled the soldiers to be mobile and available to move over rough terrain at any time. Our spiritual “shoes” are to be prepared with the gospel of peace, meaning that we must be prepared to walk as Christians into a world of darkness, fully equipped to understand what Christ’s gospel and true peace are. We cannot give peace unless we possess it ourselves.
Shield of faith—A Roman soldier wore a massive shield that resembled a door, covering most of his body from enemy attacks. If you are serious about serving the Lord, He told us we would have trouble in this world. Anything is fair game on Satan’s playing field, so attacks may come to our bodies, families, churches, finances, etc. We need to be fully covered spiritually, as the Roman soldiers were naturally. It is impossible to please God without faith, we are told in Hebrews 11:6. Our greatest protection in this life is not an arsenal of guns and ammunition but a shield of faith in God’s protection and power.
Helmet of salvation—Helmets protect our heads, and the helmet of salvation safeguards our minds against enemy incursions into our thoughts. He is a liar and the father of lies, according to John 8:44. When we come to know Jesus Christ, part of our salvation package includes power over the enemy if he attacks our minds or bodies. The enemy builds strongholds of deception and lies in our minds that can cause us to spiral downward into depression and defeat. The hope of salvation in Christ promises us that in all of life’s conflicts, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). When negative thoughts enter our minds through lies, mistrust, discouragement, and so on, our salvation in Christ has purchased the power and authority to take such thoughts captive, rebuke them, and dismiss them. Quite a hat!!
Sword of the Spirit—The Sword of the Spirit is also called the Word of God. It is like a two-edged sword in our armor—actually better than a two-edged sword--and an incredibly dynamic weapon in spiritual warfare. Hebrews 4:12 declares this: For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Jesus quoted the Word to the enemy when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). It was His choice of weaponry to use against the devil, and it was highly effective. If Jesus used the Sword of the Spirit, so should we! It is wise to study and memorize scripture, for we never know when we may need to declare the Word over a negative situation and wield the Sword of the Spirit.
As you begin your day or meet with the Lord in prayer, suit up with the proper armor to put the enemy to flight should he try to get in the way of a victorious day of living for the Lord.
© 2022, Chris Werre
(Note: Derek Prince’s book, Spiritual Warfare, was helpful in writing this One-a-Day. Visit derekprince.org to obtain a copy.)