Put on the Whole Armor of God: Preparing for Spiritual Warfare and the Prayer War Room

Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

So how should we approach battle with a “roaring lion”? Should we go into battle in jeans and a t-shirt? Or something more? Ask yourself, how would a knight prepare himself for battle, a knight like St. George who slayed the dragon. 


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Saint Paul describes how we can arm ourselves for spiritual battle in his Letter to the Ephesians, verses 10-20, below. To “quench all the flaming darts of the evil one,” we are to take on the “Whole Armor of God”: 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Awake the knight within you! Jesus Christ equips us for battle against evil with the following four items, which we will discuss in detail below:
  • The Shield of Faith
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness
  • The Sword of the Word
  • The Helmet of Salvation

The Shield of Faith

In preparing the Christian community in Ephesus for spiritual battle, Saint Paul wrote, “above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). 

Why would Paul describe faith as a shield? 

The first instrument for the Christian knight is a shield forged in the virtue of faith. Faith begins with the grace to believe in God, in all that He has said and revealed to us. 

Faith is the first of the theological virtues. The theological virtues have God as their origin, their motive, and their object. Faith calls for concrete actions. We should profess our faith, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it. 

It makes perfect sense then to emphasis faith as the primary ingredient in our first line of defense. Like a shield, faith must be firmly grasped and held before us a barrier between ourselves and the Enemy. 

When the Shield of Faith is wielded well and without fear, it deflects the doubts and accusations that the Devil hurls at us. 

Again, “in all circumstances,” Saint Paul tell us, “hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.  This is a ringing call and apostolic summons to spiritual combat. This is especially true when the basic building blocks of a healthy society – marriage and family – are under attack.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

St. Paul is quoting the Book of Wisdom when he encourages us to put on the “Armor of God”, 5:17-20: 

The Lord will take his zeal as his whole armor, and will arm all creation to repel his enemies; He will put on righteousness as a breastplate, and wear impartial justice as a helmet; He will take holiness as an invincible shield, and sharpen stern wrath for a sword, and creation will join him to fight against the madmen.” 

St. Paul is calling us to lead a life of holiness. The most valuable treasure a person can have is a life of righteousness, of purity. 

Jesus came to this world to fulfill all righteousness (Mt 3:15). The life of St. Joseph, too, is summed up by saying that he was a righteous man (Mt 1:19). The life of a righteous person stands as a challenge to the sinners. 

Like St. Joseph, who listen as God speaks to him in his dreams, a righteous person will guide his family and community out of harm’s way, even as St. Joseph led the Holy Family away from King Herod’s slaughter and into Egypt.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Mt 5:10). The lives of martyrs underline the fact that the righteous are not afraid even of death.

One who has worn the breastplate of righteousness does not have to fear any adversary. It will always safeguard him.

The Sword of the Word

Satan and his minions most likely know the Word of God better than we do, as Satan quoted Scripture quite easily when He tempted Christ in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). Satan is actually terribly clever in his mis-use and omissions from Scripture. Satan quotes Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus, verses 11 and 12:

For he will give his angels charge of you
    to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Satan skips the next verse, which he would have known very well since the Jewish rabbis used in for exorcisms. Satan skips verse 13 about crushing the serpent, i.e. Satan, under foot:

You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

Though Satan could not conceal his identity and intentions from Jesus, St. Paul warns us “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14).


Therefore, we need to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). 

Memorize God’s Word. Read God’s Word. Listen to the Word as the Virgin Mary did, who “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The sword of Scripture can help you resist temptation and sin.

The Helmet of Salvation

We Christians must guard what we allow through the “eye gate” of our minds. As in the Garden of Eden, what we see can lead us into temptation. The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was described as “a delight to the eyes.” 

To protect what goes into our minds, we must “take the helmet of salvation” and put it on (Eph. 6:17).
 
The ultimate human happiness is eternal life found in the kingdom of heaven. The only way for one to meet that objective fully is to place total trust in the promises of Christ, “relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”  

In a word, hope

Hope serves not simply as a source for our desires. Hope is a great source of renewal. Hope guards us against discouragement, sustains us during times of abandonment, opens in our hearts the anticipation of eternal beatitude, purifies our activities by aligning them to the order of the heavenly Kingdom, preserves us against selfishness, and leads to the happiness that flows from charity.

Prayer plays a critical role, too. In particular, the Our Father, or Lord’s Prayer, which is “the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire”.

The hope of salvation is “essential for protecting the mind […] against the temptation to despair.”  

Immortal hope is an antidote to mortal hopelessness. Hopelessness “open(s) our minds wide to all the thoughts the Enemy seeks to plant there.” Hopelessness also slackens our will to fight over time.
But hope – hope reigns eternal. 

Conclusion: Armor of God

St. Paul equips the Christian, but it’s not enough to merely know about these pieces of armor. A Christian must to “take up” the full armor of God. Practice these armors until they become habits. It takes time and practice to wield a sword. The unwary might accidentally chop off the servant’s ear, as Saint Peter did during Jesus’ arrest. When the enemy attacks, you will be ready.

The following chapters will further equip you for battle and guide you in your practice of the Faith and swordsmanship. 

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