In Ephesians 6:10-17, Paul uses a metaphor to speak about all the benefits that we have in Christ— benefits which enable us to stand firm in the midst of spiritual warfare. What’s the metaphor Paul has been using all along? Armour.
And throughout the passage what has Paul been telling us to do with this armour? He’s been telling us, over and over, to put it on, to take it up, to use it!
The question is, how do you put on a metaphor? How do we personally appropriate all these benefits that Christ has wrought for us, so that we can stand firm against the enemy?
Paul tells us in verse 18. That’s the point in the passage when he stops speaking metaphorically, saying:
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.
Tim Keller says that:
Many interpreters of this passage try to list prayer as one of the items in the armour… That won’t work, however, because every other item is likened to something like a helmet, a sword, or a breastplate. [But] when he comes to the end, [Paul] just says, pray, pray pray… You can’t get more basic than that. Prayer is the way that all the things we believe in and that Christ has won for us actually become our strength. Prayer is the way truth is worked into your heart to create new instincts, reflexes, and dispositions.
Prayer— of all kinds and on all occasions, as Paul puts it— is the ultimate weapon against the enemy that we have at our disposal. Prayer is how we put on the armour of God, because prayer is all about drawing near to God himself.
How do you resist the devil? Come close to God through prayer. As the Bible says in James 4:7-8:
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
All authentic Christian prayer is warfare prayer, because prayer is the way we draw close to the God and Father of our risen, victorious King, Jesus, who vanquishes every enemy. That’s why the enemy trembles at the very idea of a praying Christian, let alone a praying church.