Summary: Without prayer and watchfulness, the divine armour we are provided is rendered ineffective.
Put on the whole armour of God, “praying 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 words may be given to 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. So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
“Diplomacy,” said Will Rogers, “is the art of saying ’Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.” Diplomacy is the continuation of war by other means. Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments. We Christians long for peace; but peace at any price is too dear a cost. As we have seen in previous messages, we are at war with a vicious and ruthless enemy. I stress that this is not a war against flesh and blood, but against the enemy of the soul. Accordingly, Christians must not make peace with the enemy. Rather, we must recognise that we are at war and stay alert against every assault.
We Christians can honestly say that we are enemies to no man—we have no scriptural warrant to hate anyone or to fight against any other mortal. However, we are appointed to occupy sacred ground that was purchased by the blood of our Master. We are commanded to stand firm, resisting evil. To accomplish the assignment we have received, our Master has provided equipment that will permit us to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy. We also are armed with the Word of God, a weapon that is capable of turning back every assault.
As the Apostle listed the various items that comprise the panoply of the Christian warrior, he included instruction that that must be obeyed for the armour to be effective and for us to be able to stand. Turn again to EPHESIANS 6:13-20. “Take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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, praying 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 words may be given to 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.”
Focus on the 18th VERSE, taking special note of two verbs, translated into English as “praying” and “keep alert.” Either verb is a present participle, which would normally be translated “praying” and “keeping alert.” Each is related to the instruction that has preceded. These are not additional commands, but rather they are instrumental—that is, they are the means through which all that is commanded is accomplished.
In other words, donning the Christian panoply, standing before the attacks of the evil one, and wielding the sword of the Spirit, are accomplished through “praying” and through “keeping alert.” Since the words are present tense, it implies that this is to be an ongoing condition for the child of God. Underscore in your mind, then, praying is not intermittent, but constant. Likewise, vigilance is not occasional, but continual. Thus, the hallmark of the engaged Christian is prayer and vigilance. The Christian that does not depend upon prayer and fails to maintain vigilance cannot be counted as a mature believer, and such a one is disobedient to the expectation of the Master. May I say that the Christian that does not live a life of prayer and does not remain vigilant endangers not only his own spiritual well-being, but that of his or her fellow believers.
What has this to do with diplomacy? We do not go seeking a fight; but neither do we flee before the enemy of the soul. We are gracious to all whom we meet, showing courtesy and kindness, even as we have received kindness and mercy from the Master. However, we realise that we are part of a divine army, supporting one another and holding one another accountable. We are always seeking to hold the enemy at bay.