The Armor of God, Part 7: Praying Always

Posted on 04/29/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

Public Prayer Requests:

*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***

Isn't God good? Of course that's a rhetorical question. God has kept us here in Second Life ministering for going on seven years. He's provided for this island for about four years, I believe it is, and has always given us what we needed to pay the rather obscene fees Linden Labs charges for a region.

Today, we're going to cover the last part of a series from three years ago on The Armor of God; and this also may very well be the last week we meet here in this place in Second Life.

But we can't expect God to only open doors and never close other ones. And when He no longer sustains what He's called us to do in one place, it's because He's calling us to serve Him in some other place, or in some other way.

Wherever we go and whatever we do from this point forward, He will continue to maintain what He ordains for as long as it's His will; and then He will continue to lead and guide us, providing what we need for what He wants us to do.

We're actually working toward saving this region, at least in the form of this church building and some of the surrounding work, but of course we'd need to pay what we owe, which is almost $350. Some of you have given a grand total of about $120 toward that amount. If you feel as though the Lord is drawing you to join in with those sacrifices, please be obedient to His voice.

Take a moment right now to open up a web browser, and go to Click the offering plate on that page, and give as the Lord leads.

If you're unable to do that for whatever reason, turn around and click one of the offering plates by the door, and let's worship God by sowing our finances into His Kingdom.


Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.



I love to be in Your presence
with Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
lift my hands and raise my voice

You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice!


Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
It's my joy to honor You,
In all I do,
I honor You.

You are my King, Jesus
You are my King

If the Son has set you free,
you are free indeed!


I love you, Lord
and I lift my voice
To worship You
oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
in what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

For some time now, we've been talking about the Armor of God, which is a review of this topic from about three years ago. So far, we've covered all the pieces of the armor:

The Belt of Truth
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The Shoes of the Gospel
The Shield of Faith
The Helmet of Salvation and
The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

We saw that the first and the last, truth and the Word of God, are Jesus; he is the first and the last, and therefore is also the center.

We saw that the second and the fouth, righteousness and faith, are intimately related, as are the third and fifth, the Gospel and Salvation, overlapping and woven together to form a complete package.

And today, I'd like to wrap up this series by addressing the verse which comes after our main passage.

Let's read this passage again, from Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 through 18.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (KMV)*

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 For this reason, put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

So taking up not only part of the armor, but the whole armor, is vital if we want to be able to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil; and if we have any piece of it not firmly and completely in place, not one single one of us is immune to being tricked and deceived.

Just like any armor, the Armor of God requires care. We don't just put it on once and then never worry about it again. Instead, we need to make sure we're wearing the whole armor of God every single day, and in every single situation.

And in addition to making sure we're wearing all of it at all times, we also need to make sure it's oiled, polished, and kept strong.

Verse 18 says this about the lifestyle of putting on the whole armor of God: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

I've talked with people who say they pray frequently, but not necessarily every day. Then there are those of us who pray at meals and say "Now I lay me down to sleep" at bedtime.

But this verse tells us we should be "praying always with all supplication in the Spirit." And it doesn't stop there, but goes on to say we should be attentive to this, with all perseverance.

Another way of saying this is, "Pay close attention to make sure you are praying always, persevering, not slacking up or losing your resolve."

Have you ever met someone who seems to always be in a state of prayer? If you share a problem with them, they are ready to immediately pray with you about it. If it's sunny or rainy, if they encounter something good or if someone pulls out in front of them, they react to all things in an attitude or atmosphere of prayer. They seem to always be communicating with God, as though He is sitting right there with them all the time.

Let's forget about those who just try to act like this is the case, I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the real deal, the first people you think of when you want someone to pray for you or give you Godly advice.

They might be very practical and down to earth, but at the same time, they seem to breathe the rarified air of heaven, living out the Scripture which says we are seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

This isn't just some personality trait. And it doesn't just come naturally. Rather, it's the result of years of being attentive to pray always, persevering even when the newness of the effort grows old, the excitement of feeling spiritual wears off, and other things catch our attention, things that aren't necessarily compatible with intimate fellowship with God.

But that's exactly what we're being asked to do. This is the lifestyle we're being instructed to live.

And it's not for no reason. In the garden, the night Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples to watch and pray. But every time He came back to them, they were sleeping. And He told them again to "watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Certainly He didn't mean the flesh is weak in the sense that it doesn't have much influence over us. No, Jesus was referring to what needed to be done in a quickly-approaching crisis of faith.

The spirit is willing to do the right thing, to do what God says, to react the way the Holy Spirit would have you react.

But the flesh is weak; weak to hear God's voice, weak to do the right thing under pressure, weak to know right from wrong when suddenly your life is on the line.

Jesus knew what was about to happen, and He knew they desperately needed to watch and pray, being attentive to do so, with perseverance and supplication.

But He also knew they would fall asleep instead. So He repeated His instructions, so that both they and we could learn from their failures and do the right thing instead.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather learn from someone else's mistakes than from my own; and what I mean by that is that I'd much rather see someone else do the wrong thing and then do the right thing myself and avoid the misery that comes from making those wrong choices.

But, speaking from my own personal experience, pride so often keeps us from admitting that the same destruction will come to us that has come to others. "THAT won't happen to ME!"

Let's think about something for a moment: the disciples were with Jesus for three years, spending every day and night, and almost every hour and minute with Jesus. They heard first hand the words He spoke, saw with their own eyes the miracles He performed, witnessed the dead being raised back to life. They were there when He commanded the storm to cease, and they saw first-hand the wind and the waves obey Him. They saw how He silenced the brilliant Torrah scholars with just a few words of God-breathed truth.

And yet they could not stay awake. And they did not watch and pray.

Now, before we starting thinking we would have done better, let's consider the Israelites as they were being delivered by God from slavery in Egypt, and as God led them across the wilderness to the Promised Land.

They saw the plagues that God brought upon Egypt, and saw that only those who obeyed the Word of the Lord through Moses and put the blood on their doorposts were spared, while the first born of all the other households in egypt died.

They saw God miraculously separate and protect them from the armies who came after them to bring them back to Egypt, God appearing as a cloud by day and as a fire by night.

They saw God part the Red Sea, as they walked across on dry land.

They saw God cause the waters to fall back into their place, drowning the Egyptian army and burning the bridge, so to speak, that would lead them back into Egyptian bondage.

They saw God give them water to drink from a rock that followed them, and bread to eat from heaven which gave them perfect sustinance so long as they obeyed God's instructions.

And yet, throughout the entire time, they grumbled and complained, and they accused Moses of bringing them out into the wilderness to die. They wished they were back in Egypt, remembering only the food they were able to eat, and forgetting the great weight of slavery.

Of course we would never react like they did. Just like we would never complain that we're too poor, even though God gives us food to eat and a roof over our head. Just like we would never complain that it's raining again. Just like we would never accuse God of being unjust or unloving because we see evil in the world in the midst of all the abundance of good with which He surrounds us.

No, we would never react like the children of Israel. We would never complain that our car is too old, our clothes are too shabby, our job doesn't pay well enough, our landlord is too impatient, the people around us are too stupid to be driving on the road with us, the person ringing up our groceries didn't smile at us, and so on and so forth.

Instead, I'm sure every single one of us lives a life of thanksgiving in all things, because, after all, that's what God has told us to do. We would never grumble or complain. We would never be dissatisfied with the blessings God has given us.

Never. No way.

Just like I wasn't complaining as I wrote the outline for this message three years ago about the loud noises outside my window, or about how it was much too hot for the air conditioner to not be working.

All the while, I had walls around me and a roof over my head. I could sit there in relative privacy and type on a computer instead of having to exercise my soft hands with an old-fashioned pen and paper.

I can have a glass of water in front of me, or something more tastey when I start complaining that the water is too bland. And if I get hungry, I can grab something out of the refridgerator, a modern convenience lots of people in other countries don't have.

Woe is me. There are just so many hardships in my life. I mean, I still have to work for a living. I can't go anywhere I want and do anything I want any time I want. I have to stick to a budget. Poor, abused me.

I have to take insulin injections, and then wait in line at Wal Mart to buy more. And to do that, I have to use some of the money I worked hard to earn.

Of course the reality is that God loves us way too much to just hand everything to us, because the less we are forced to do for what we are given, the more we take it for granted; and, just like the Israelites who were miraculously given everything they needed by God, we start to complain. We become dissatisfied and discontented.

"I came to the Truth sim and someone started giving me a hard time or didn't talk to me. I just can't deal with that." Just maybe we are allowed to go through the unpleasant things in our life so we will some day realize just how soft and spoiled we really are.

I certainly am. I don't like hardships. I don't like inconveniences. I didn't like our inconsiderate neighbors who stayed up all night stealing my sleep because they were living off my tax dollars and, instead of having to work for a living like the Bible says we should, they were handed everything with nothing expected in return. (Sorry about that rant from the past...)

And God does care about the things that cause us turmoil. Everything that matters to us matters to God, simply because WE matter to God. But that doesn't mean He's going to take all the negative things out of our lives. He loves us too much to do that to us. And He's all-knowing and perfect in wisdom, and He knows everything in the future and what long-term effects every situation will have.

He's building character in us. He's maturing us. He's strengthening us. He's shaping us into the image of His Son. And He tells us in His Word what we need to do to cooperate with His will, to surrender to His hand, so that everything in our lives will work out to our good.

And here's a very important part of the lifestyle He calls us all to live: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

So what do you think? How can we pray always? Well, maybe we can ponder what prayer really is. Very simply put, prayer is communication with God. It's some sort of exchange. It's connecting with Him.

It can be sharing our heart, or our burdens, or our joys, or our needs with God. It can be just sitting in His presence, inviting Him to be there with us, and just waiting upon the Lord.

It can be reading the Scriptures with a listening ear, asking in our hearts, "Lord, what does this mean in my life? What are you telling me?"

It can be listening for the voice of God as we go about our day, as we do our work, as we shop for groceries, as we visit with friends.

A life of prayer is a life of constant fellowship with God. It is a life that avoids anything that would displease God and therefore break, even if just for a moment, our fellowship with Him.

A life of prayer is a life that takes perseverance. It takes purpose. It takes practice. And it takes the Holy Spirit, who is poured out upon those who have asked forgiveness for and turned from sin, and who have given their lives into the hand and the will of the Master.

O that we as the Body of Christ would begin living lives of prayer! We would each one of us leave a mark on the world in which we live.

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

In the Spirit. What does that mean? "Praying always with all prayer and supplication -- in the Spirit."

The word here for "Spirit" means specifically the Spirit of God, not the human spirit. It's doesn't mean to pray in a spirited manner, or in our minds or souls. It means, quite literally, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Holy Spirit."

Could this be a lifestyle that is connected with what the Bible commands us, to "walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh?" After all, our spirit is willing to serve God like this, while our flesh is weak. To which one will we listen?

I heard a story not too long ago about a father who was explaining things to his son like this: he said, "Son, there are two creatures inside of us. One is good, the other is evil. And they are constantly fighting eachother." The boy thought about this for a moment, then asked, "Father, which creature will win?" To which the father answered, "The one that wins is the one you feed."

Galatians 6:8 (KMV)* says it this way:

8 For he who sows to his flesh will, of the flesh, reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will, of the Spirit, reap everlasting life.

This word translated here as "corruption" can mean "moral decay," and, ultimately, "eternal misery in hell." And yet, we tend to sow to our flesh an aweful lot.

And this is in stark contrast to the life God is calling us to live. We are every one of us called to walk according to the Spirit, not the flesh. Instead of feeding and babying and cuddling and pacifying the flesh like we all too often do, we're commanded to crucify the flesh. Put it to death. Mortify it.

Even in our churches, we try to make everyone comfortable, to not offend their flesh, to not hurt their flesh's feelings. Sometimes this is done by saying certain sinful lifestyles are okay. Sometimes this is done by giving people leadership positions they really shouldn't have. Sometimes this is done by witholding Biblically-mandated correction from them, and keeping your mouth shut about their self-destruction instead of telling them the truth in love, and praying that their souls are saved from hell.

And what is the result of this? Well, this results in the reaping of corruption -- moral decay. Of course those in the world feed the flesh. And then we wonder where all the moral decay is coming from. We wonder why hate crimes laws make criminals out of those who call sin "sin," while calling the sinner clean and right, and even labeling them as the victim.

It's because the mind of the flesh protects the flesh. In fact, our flesh will tell us that this message isn't all that important, and we just can't wait until it's over so we can do something more comfortable -- something that our flesh likes.

Our flesh is sneaky that way. But let's recognize it as our enemy. The flesh is NOT your friend, no matter how much it tells you otherwise and no matter how good it makes you feel. If you have a list of people you don't like and who you are out to get, how about tearing it into a million pieces and starting fresh, with only two names on that enemies list, those two names being:

The Flesh, and
The Devil

And when we crucify our flesh and start walking in the Spirit instead, THEN we will have the strength and the authority to wage war against the devil.

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

In addition to praying in the Spirit in terms of walking in the Spirit, there's another kind of "praying in the Spirit" that is powerful.

The gift of tongues isn't something that passed away with the first apostles. Instead, it's something given to the New Testament Church as part of the gifts the Holy Spirit gives, along with all the other gifts listed that will pass away when Jesus returns.

The term "praying in the Spirit" was used in Scripture specifically relating to praying in tongues over in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, verses 14 and 15:

14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

This is not the same thing referred to by Paul as requiring a translator, because when a word is given in tongues and is translated, it's usually not a prayer. But this refers specifically to praying in tongues.

The school of thought which states tongues and the other gifts were for the purpose of establishing the Church and giving revelation for the New Testament doesn't seem to take into account the whole issue of praying in tongues.

One of my old pastors told a story of once when he woke up in the middle of the night and had a burden to just start praying in the Spirit. He prayed until he felt a release, a peace that he was free to go back to sleep.

The next day he read an article in the paper about a man who, at the exact time the pastor was woken up to pray, had driven his car off the road into the water. He could not swim, and was standing on top of his car with only his head sticking out of the water.

Even though the night was dark and this was a lightly-traveled road, a man chanced by who just happened to be an expert swimmer. He somehow saw the man's head sticking out of the water, and swam to his rescue.

The time this man saved the one in trouble was the same time the pastor felt a peace and went back to sleep.

The pastor immediately knew that's why he was praying. If that man had slipped off his car, he would have drowned. Following the leading of the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues saved this man's life.

Do you have the gift of tongues? If not, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and to give you this gift. If you've been born again, the Spirit of God already lives within you, but there's a filling to overflowing -- overflowing in a way that can be seen -- and it's a good gift that God will pour out upon you if you dilligently seek him for it.

It will help you more than you can imagine, to "pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

So we should walk in the Spirit, feeding the spirit man and starving the flesh. We should pray in the spirit, seeking for the infilling of the Holy Spirit if we do not have the gift of tongues, and being dilligent to pray in the Spirit if we do. We should be attentive, careful, watchful, making certain we do not slack off in our life of prayer. We should persevere, continuing even after the excitement wears off or we just don't feel like it.

And we should make supplication for all saints.

Perhaps you're like me. Just maybe you can look back at your life and realize that, if it weren't for someone praying for you, maybe a mother, grandmother, Sunday School teacher, or a friend, you might very well already be dead, and dead without Christ.

But even beyond that, perhaps you can see what a difference prayer has made in your life. Even if you can't see it, I guarantee someone has prayed for you, and it has made more of a difference than you might ever know.

What would happen if the whole Church prayed? And what would happen if more of us, all of us here and under the sound of my voice, were to obey the voice of the Lord and live a life of prayer, praying dilligently for all the saints?

Now, this word "saint" doesn't just mean those men and women to whom the Catholic Church grants the title of saint. Instead, it refers to those who are deemed by God as holy and set apart; it refers to the redeemed.

Have you been redeemed? Then you are one of those for whom we are commanded to pray. Look around you. The room is filled with other saints. And if they're NOT saints, then they need your prayers too, that their eyes will be opened and that they will come to a knowledge of the truth before it's too late.

Are there churches in your community that you think aren't where they should be spiritually? Well, you could talk bad about them, or make a mental note of them as you drive past, thinking of how much better your own church is. OR, you could crucify that stinking flesh of yours and instead walk according to the Spirit, praying for them with a genuine desire from the Holy Spirit that they be set on fire and walk on the path God has placed them there to walk.

We can pray for those who are in countries that actively persecute Christians. As we sit here right now in relative comfort, there are Christians who are secretly gathering in defiance of the law, quietly worshiping under the shadow of the realization that at any moment, the door could be knocked down and they could be arrested, tortured, and even put to death.

We can pray for those who are on the mission field, whether at home or abroad, and ask God to tell us what He wants US do, since WE, too, are commanded to go into SOME part of the world and proclaim the Gospel.

And we can pray for ourselves, that God will change us, that He will turn up the heat and scrape away every impurity, no matter how big or no matter how small; that God will help us walk according to the Spirit and to crucify the flesh; and that God will teach us how to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

Let's close today's service with a time of prayer, worship, ministry, and dedication.

I think most if not all of us would do well to dedicate ourselves today to living a life of prayer. Will you join me at the altar? Will you get out of your seat and step up to the plate, saying, "Yes Lord, I will step forward and do what you have commanded me to do?"

You're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front, as we have a time of prayer, worship, and dedication to live a life of prayer.

If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you don't have to wait another moment. Right now, just come to the cross. And what I mean by that is this: surrender yourself, every part of you, to Jesus. Every single one of us is in a desperately hopeless condition without God's forgiveness; so ask Him to forgive you for your sins. And then agree to let them go, to turn away from and reject them. Agree to do things God's way. And if you come to Him humbly like this, He will not turn you away. You can be adopted as a son or a daughter of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords today!

And if you have been born again, but there is something in your life that is keeping you from living a life of prayer, then don't wait until some other time to get it out of your life. As long as you put it off until later, later will never come. Get things right with God today, right here, and right now.

Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed; and if you can stay during this time at the altar, you're invited to join us afterwards in the Fellowship Room to your left for a time of fellowship.

Come, and let's dedicate ourselves to fortifying the Armor of God in our lives by "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being attentive to this, with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

Lord God, thank you for your word, and for speaking to us today. Thank you that, no matter what happens in the days and weeks to come, and whether we're still meeting in here in Second Life or we meet elsewhere, or even if we were not able to meet together at all, You are still here with each and every one of us, and You will always keep your promise to give us everything we need in the way and the time we need it.

We dedicate ourselves to a life of prayer, and we ask that you give us the growing desire, the power, and everything we need to put that dedication into practice.

And we pray all these things in Jesus' mighty name.