Communication matters. Did you see Sam Mendes’ movie, 1917? Two soldiers were tasked with carrying a message across enemy lines, a message that could save the lives of many compatriots. Technology has come a long way in the last 100 years, but the movie reminds us how crucial communication is for saving lives.
Ephesians says we’re not fighting the flesh-and-blood humans who think they’re in power, but we are fighting the most important war in history: the conflict over who is running the world. For this battle, God has given us no other armour than what he used to save the world and defeat injustice, the armour Jesus wore as he stood before Pilate.
That’s why it’s so crucial to stay in touch with our Commander-in-Chief:
Ephesians 6:18–20 (NIV)
18 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 Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The prayers of his soldiers are aligned with the goals of our king: his campaign to free the world from oppression under evil, to restore divine kingship to the planet so it is the kingdom of God. This goal conflicts with those who want power for their own benefits, such as Nero in Paul’s time. That’s why we pray for each other (6:18), and especially for the evangelists who announce the good news of a planet liberated in the kingship of God’s anointed (6:19).
The writer understood this first-hand. As he wrote this, he was locked up by the rulers of this world (in chains) because he represented another kingdom (as ambassador). It can feel scary standing before someone who sees you as a threat to his power, someone like Nero or Pilate.
The armour of God was never about personal protection from evil spirits. It’s about standing together as the army that announces Jesus as ruler of the planet, in the face of existing powers that serve evil to gain and keep their authority.
And prayer is the final piece of that protective armour. It’s our communication channel with the king. With the promptings and guidance of the Spirit, this is how we have each other’s back.
What others are saying
Frank Thielman, Ephesians, BECNT (Baker Academic, 2010), 434:
To summarize, Paul urges his readers to defend their position in Christ against the onslaught of evil by prayer that is constant, Spirit-empowered, alert to surrounding evil, zealous in its devotion, and ecumenical in its breadth.