One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was from an older woman of God. Regarding walking into situations she knew would be difficult and draining, she said she would make sure to be “prayed up” so that she marched into the battle wearing the full armor of God.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV) says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor 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. Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God 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.”
The purpose of putting on “the full armor of God” is to be prepared to fight back against the enemy in the battles into which we must walk. It is not a matter of if, but rather a matter of when. Until Jesus returns for His faithful followers, we will continue to be engaged in war. We don’t always have the luxury of knowing when a battle may arise, however, so as any good soldier in a time of war, it is wise to be ready to fight at any time.
The longer I follow Jesus, the more I realize how much I need my fellow soldiers around me for support. God’s armor is useful and effective to protect us and enable us to fight back against enemy attacks, but like quality armor, it can be heavy to bear. I must surround myself with trusted allies who will help me pick it up and arm myself for what I am facing. There are days I become battle-weary and it’s all I can do to stand. Maybe I don’t remember the truth of who God says I am and I need a reminder. Maybe my faith is shaken and I need a friend to help me pick up that shield. Some days I need a prayer of peace so my feet are ready to move me forward. In those moments, I need the help of my fellow soldiers not just to help me dress for battle, but also stand at my defense in the meantime. Then, once I am armed, I am also ready to take my turn in helping them.
How can we help one another be dressed for battle? One clue is found just a few verses prior in Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV): “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our words are powerful weapons for good or for evil. A tongue that is allowed to spew thoughtless speech is a tool ripe for the enemy’s motives, however, words purposefully controlled by the Spirit will encourage and equip us for the road ahead. As Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Fighting the good fight of faith alongside the friends we have met along the way is one of the Lord’s greatest gifts on earth. We not only get to experience the joy of Christian love between friends, but in them we also gain an indispensable strength to continue on until the day of victory. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV)