INTRO: In Ephesians 6:10-20 , Paul closes out his letter to the Ephesians with the topic of spiritual warfare. As Paul was writing this letter he was under house arrest in Rome - a P.O.W. of the spiritual warfare raging in the world. Paul probably had a guard close at hand to use as a model for the pieces of armor he describes in these verses. Armor was essential equipment in ancient warfare. (The only body armor worn by today’s soldiers are flak jackets and helmets.) But the armor analogy aptly describes the “head-to-toe” protection necessary to wage war in the spiritual realms.
Though Paul could never have imagined today’s sophisticated weaponry and war machines, his instructions in 6:18-20 actually foreshadow a vital aspect of modern warfare: close air support. Warfare took on a whole new dimension with the advent of aircraft. It was not until World War II that the concept of close air support was fully utilized. For a time, the Luftwaffe ruled the air over much of Europe. The Nazi war machine stunned Europe with their “blitzkrieg” tactics as deadly aircraft worked in support of ground troops and vehicles. By the time of the D-Day invasion, the sky had changed hands as Allied aircraft swept virtually unopposed over the fields of Normandy. Noted historian and author Stephen Ambrose commented in his book, Citizen Soldiers that when Allied troops heard aircraft overhead, they looked up and smiled. But when the German troops heard aircraft overhead, they dove for cover. That’s the difference that comes with air superiority.
When you are supported from on high, you can have reason to smile in the thick of battle. You are encouraged to press on to your objective and achieve victory.
In 6:18-20, Paul is asking for “close air support” in the form of PRAYER. Though Paul was a prisoner He didn’t ask for a release from his chains or a removal from prison. Remember the Hogan’s Heroes television show? Col. Hogan and his men were P.O.W.’s in Stalag 13 under the watchful eyes of Col. Klink and Sergeant Schultz. But these Allied soldiers weren’t prisoners by accident: they were prisoners by assignment! Barbed wire and guard towers didn’t keep these “prisoners” from carrying out missions vital to the war effort. But while Hogan’s Heroes was TV fiction, Prisoner Paul was real life! He was right where God wanted him — on a critical mission behind enemy lines. A mission so vital that millions of lives were at stake. Paul was infiltrating enemy territory in order to win the souls of people for Christ and His Kingdom. It was hard and hazardous work. He needed courage and strength for the task; so he put out a call for air cover/support from his brothers and sisters in Ephesus. This “warfare prayer” serves three functions:
(1) IT KEEPS US ON “BATTLE ALERT” FOR THE SAINTS [6:18].
* This verse highlights the basic Christian responsibility for watchfulness and perseverance.
* Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are at war! Or on the other hand, it is not uncommon to be worn down by our own participation in the fight.
* Ephesians 6:12: We are in a struggle; a high-stakes wrestling match!
* Must remain vigilant and alert; attentive to what is going on around us.
* The phrase “all kinds of prayer” suggests an intensity and a thoroughness to our prayers.
* Prayer must become our habitual response to everyday circumstances
(2) IT HELPS TO EQUIP/SUPPLY THE SERVANTS OF GOD [6:19A].
* One of the logistic nightmares of warfare is keeping the troops supplied. Not every battle zone has convenient roads or other supply routes to those on the front lines.
* But with the invention of aircraft the business of supplying the troops got a little easier. One of the most famous air supply routes of World War II was the one that ran supplies from India to China. Countless numbers of supply planes flew over “The Hump” bringing much needed equipment to beleaguered troops in the field.
* Many a battle force has been saved by airdrops of ammunition, weapons, food, water, or medical supplies - what ever the situation called for.
* Paul asked the Ephesian Christians to pray for him that he would have the right words to say. (Not a matter of “if” he would speak, but “how” he would speak!)
* Paul was a well educated and articulate man, but he didn’t want to rely on those things as his means to share the Gospel message of Christ. [1 Corinthians 2:1-5] He was looking for God’s empowerment for the task - even to the words that he would say.
* Perhaps Paul was simply taking Jesus at His word in Luke 12:12 when He told His disciples not to worry about what to say when brought before ruling authorities - the Holy Spirit would teach them and give them even the right words to say.