10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
This is not an easy passage for some of us. Many struggle with the militaristic imagery. It leads some to believe that we are warriors waiting to go on attack in a cosmic battle with evil.
But let's look at this passage as it connects with the rest of Ephesians. This is the conclusion to the epistle's call to Christian unity and communal ethics. The struggles of a life of faith are compared to battle and God's power to armor. Paul is clear about the menacing might of evil. However, we are not called to go on the offensive, rather each item of armor mentioned is defensive. Our call is to "stand against" and to proclaim peace: the advice is entirely about protection and resistance, not about aggression.
Lastly in this passage, we are called to prayerfulness--not just when it's convenient, not just when we get up early enough, not just when there are a few extra minutes in our busy schedules. "Pray in the Spirit at all times." This is not solely prayer for our own needs, but for the rest of the body of Christ. Paul included himself as one in need of prayer.
I echo Paul's words, "Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel...Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak" (verses 19, 20). Thank you for your prayers for every aspect of our ministry at St. Timothy's and for our life together as a community of faith.