While getting ready to go home for my friend’s wedding this week I kept reminding myself not to forget my bridesmaid dress or shoes or anything. It’s a little stressful, because I’m in my friend’s wedding and I can’t forget a piece of my outfit or it will be a big issue because I can’t just walk into a store and buy a new one. However, so often, I forget to put on the whole armor of God, and THAT is a much bigger tragedy than if I were to forget my shoes for my friend’s wedding. And yet, I think that we often do leave a vital piece of the armor of God out.
Can you list the pieces of the armor of God? What are they? There’s the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the readiness provided by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit…but have you ever noticed that the sentence doesn’t end there? Paul goes further and says “praying at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication.”
It seems to me that Paul included this as a piece of the armor, and yet when you hear the armor of God taught you don’t usually hear prayer included as a piece of armor. Perhaps that’s because Paul doesn’t seem to give it a symbolic equivalent to Roman armor like the shield or the sword. However, I think there is something that prayer equates to in a soldier’s life. There’s only one thing I can think of that a soldier needs to keep doing at all moments in order to stay alive: he needs to keep breathing. Prayer is as vital as a soldier’s every breath because without it, you simply can’t function. If you’re not breathing you can’t lift a sword or a shield or anything. No other piece of physical armor is of use if you’re not breathing, and no other piece of God’s armor is of use if you’re not praying.
If we simply focus on our own ability to pick up the shield of faith and to wield the sword of the Spirit then we are sadly missing the point. We’re focused on our own ability to defend ourselves with those tools, but prayer hands that to God and says, “I can’t do this on my own, I need your help.”