How many days have we started without prayer and paid the price? Our enemy the Devil is a crafty foe. He may be evil and destructive, but his initial weapons are subtle and seemingly non-threatening. In most cases, he isn’t going to launch an all-out assault right away. He first wants you to let down your guard. Start your day with breakfast, maybe a little television. All of sudden the phone rings. It’s a friend or family member, nothing serious but enough to take more of your time. Before you know it, you have to get ready for the day. You’re off to work or to an appointment. Half the day is gone without a single thought towards God.
Your enemy has already weakened your defenses. Your walls are down. Your attention is taken. Yet, all the while, his forces are strong and ready to devour you. At this point, he can tempt you with ease. Enticing you to sin is not a problem. The attacks come slowly but they are present and consistent. If you stop and check your heart, you are becoming irritated at small things. The fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—are not present. Rather, you’re experiencing the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). The worst part is, knowing you should turn to God, you don’t because your heart is cold and distant. The enemy is winning the day.
We cannot forget that we’re in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-20). When we do, our enemy will win every time. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (6:12) We may have trouble within ourselves and problems in the world, but our enemy is Satan and his allies. He is constantly seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). His goal is “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). And he will do just that if you’re not prepared.
Paul gives us the tools to fight against our adversary. We have defensive equipment to protect us (6:13-16) and offensive weapons to fight back (6:18). I agree with Clinton Arnold who observed that “prayer is the essence of spiritual warfare and the most important means by which believers are strengthened by God” (pg. 474). Without prayer, we are defenseless and cannot fight back. Why do you think it is that on those when you forget to pray, you’re more prone to temptation, ungodliness and just blatant sin? It’s because you’re constantly under attack and on the days when you don’t put your armor on, you’re more susceptible to be defeated.
What would happen if a city opened every gate, depleted its military and sent the remaining soldiers on vacation? They’d be destroyed on the day of battle. Surrounding nations would call that king a fool for stripping himself of all protection. The same is true for the believer who forgets to put on his armor every day. Without the word of God and prayer, we’re not only unspiritual people, we’re completely prone to attack.
Let me encourage you, first and foremost, understand that you’re in a spiritual battle. You cannot defeat an enemy you don’t know. Secondly, prepare yourself every day for warfare. Satan cannot take your salvation, and he won’t win the ultimate battle. Both of those realties were won through Christ’s death and resurrection (see Colossian 2:14b-15). But, he can steal your joy and effectiveness for the Kingdom of God. Don’t let him do that! So, remember, “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13).