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Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 6: 10-20 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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 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.
Evidence of the vulnerability and imperfection of any human power is ever-present. What then did the Apostle Paul intend in commanding those who received this letter to “be strong in the Lord”?
Human strength alone is inadequate against the devil’s schemes. Paul knew this. His command (written in the passive voice) may be literally translated as “be continually empowered”, “be made strong” (“made strong” not only today but every day). It is in the power of the Lord and only in his power that we may hope to take our stand against the evil we will inevitably encounter as servants of Jesus.
The Lord’s “mighty power” (alternatively “the might of his strength”) is available to us if only we ask. Paul has alluded to how we access this power in the representation of each component as an item of armour which the servant of Jesus Christ is to bear.
We are to do this by prayer. His command continues: “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers … always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (italics added). People of God should recognise the repetition of “all” through this command. We are to be people of prayer.
Paul’s request for prayer for himself in this passage may be emulated by all who are undertaking the mission of God today. We anticipate their requests for prayer when we bring to God the Father through our mediator Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit all who lead us in his Church, all who are ambassadors for Jesus, all who teach, all who intercede and all who declare the word of God fearlessly, regardless of their own personal circumstances.
Even as we read this reflection, let us pray for them now.