Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

May 26, 2005

The Full Armor of God

I've been thinking about the "armor of God" lately. I know people who insist that we should pray the armor-prayer (Eph. 6:10-20) every day. Now, to me that seems just a little, I don't know, superstitious. It's not that I don't think we ought to put on the armor of God, but I'm just wondering how we do that? In some cases it's obvious. If you want to take up the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God), for example, you've got to be in the Word often, imbibing its principles, understanding its precepts, encouraged by its wonderful portrait of the grace of God in Christ. If you do these things, you will be able to apply those principles and precepts to every situation in which you find yourself. Isn't that what wielding the sword of the Spirit is all about?

Well, whatever it's about, it's surely about more than simply the ritualistically repetition of Ephesians 6:17 ("Lord, I'm taking up the sword of the Spirit now, which is the Word of God.") Repeat those words if it helps, of course, but the key thing is to know the Word. To be thoroughly engaged with it day-by-day, allowing it to challenge you in every aspect of your life.

Now, just let me say that the people I know who repeat the armor-prayer each day are people who do that. I'm not suggesting that their faith is shallow or something. I'm only saying that putting on the full armor of God means much more than reading the armor passage. Putting on the breastplate of righteousness, for example. What's that all about? What does it mean to put on that particular piece of armor? How does righteousness defend me from the enemy? And whose righteousness? And how do I put it on?

I'm asking these questions this morning without having formulated anything but the shadow of an answer to some of them. But I do know one thing. At the beginning of the armor-passage, Paul says, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the full armor of God." Note: it's in His strength that we are strong. It's His armor we're putting on. If righteousness is to be our breastplate, protecting us from the attacks of the enemy, well then we must first remember that it is God's righteousness that protects us, not our own. In fact, every piece of the armor is His.

Maybe I'll get back to the armor passage at some point. All I know is, we need that armor, because we truly are in a battle. The enemy is firing those flaming arrows even now. How shall we extinguish them, if not by the shield of faith?


Blogger Peter Bogert said...

The armor prayer is a classic example of missing symbol/metaphor in the text. The symbol represents reality, and the reality relates to character and real "weapons" like knowing God's Word, etc. They don't get put on in prayer, but are developed and lived.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Well said, Peter. I couldn't agree more.

9:49 AM  
Blogger jared said...

Good thoughts.

I was reading some of the letters of the early church father Ignatius this week, and the way he spoke of the fruit of gentleness was quite striking. First he referred to gentleness as a "power." Then he said that gentleness is what destroys the ruler of the age. Wow.

I blogged a bit about that at Shizuka Blog this morning. I'm reminded of it again reading this post of yours. It's easy to think one thing about spiritual warfare and the armor of God when the Bible may mean another thing entirely.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

That's an interesting thought. We clearly have to remember that Paul is essentially talking about prayer here, waging a prayer-warfare against spiritual enemies. But don't forget that even in the midst of Paul's armor metaphor we have mention of "feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace." That's the gospel that the spiritual powers and authorities of this world would like to stop us from spreading.

More thoughts, anyone?

3:19 PM  
Blogger Broken Messenger said...

"The armor prayer is a classic example of missing symbol/metaphor in the text."

Agreed! The same is true of the Lord's Prayer that was taught by Christ as an example of the things we should pray for, not as a ritualistic prayer to be repeated over and over again as a "spiritual good luck charm" - which was something that He had just warned against.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Panda said...

Hi there!
I have the same objections against using 'The Prayer of Jabez' as a mantra. It is good to think about biblical prayers and it is wise to meditate on passages about prayer and spiritual warfare. But: we don't have to repeat prayers like a ritual - I totally agree with broken messenger.

I have to think of Psalm 1...
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. 2 But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.

It is good to meditate on Bible passages and to internalize biblical truth - to 'eat' the Word as daily bread! But, in stead of repeating wellknown Bible verses like mumbling monks - I feel it is better to be silent and listen to what God has to say to you (and me) TODAY, after reading His Word. Blessings from the Netherlands!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Awesome stuff, you guys. Thanks for checking in.

8:22 AM  

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