Misconceptions are funny things. You don’t know you have them until they are corrected. I really thought that the armor of God was put on by saying a few words in prayer each day. Now I understand that this armor is a lifestyle of becoming more aligned with Christ’s character. It is a result of constant prayer, repentance, humility, and most importantly, of seeking the face of Jesus.
The final part of our armor is unique it is the only part that is offensive. All other parts are for protection and defense, while this one is meant to attack, take ground, and cut down the forces of evil. I have always wondered why God didn’t arm us with catapults, tanks, and missiles! After all, Satan and his cohorts are relentless in their attack. Wouldn’t a few spiritual atomic bombs be more effective? What I have learned about this simple sword has convinced me otherwise…
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, andhaving 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,Ephesians 6:14-18 ESV
As a student, I attended schools where English grammar was a big deal. From first grade on, I remember diagramming sentences. Even in high school and college English, we had to reassemble our sentences on those lines that look like scaffolding and rocket ships. I didn’t always fully appreciate the tedium of diagramming, but at some point, I realized how much this chore helped me understand English…especially older English like Shakespeare or the King James Version of the Bible. When I was reading this passage, I found myself confused by its long structure. The age-old trick of diagramming came to the rescue. The verse is actually just part of a loooong, complex sentence, which is beyond my rusty skills, but here is the last part of that sentence:
“…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.”
Even if you are not a grammar-nerd, hang on. This is going to get really good. This simple tool revealed so much!
This is the Holy Spirit’s sword.
The Holy Spirit owns this sword. It is His to do with as He pleases. Before, I had always thought of it as the “swordofthespirit” without really examining how the words related to each other. Diagramming revealed that we do not control this sword. We simply hold on to its mighty power and the Holy Spirit takes charge.
The movie, Alice in Wonderland, provides a vivid image of a sword with its own will. While fighting the jabberwocky, Alice must hold on to the vorpal sword while it does the rest. The sword wants to slay the jabberwocky, but it needs someone to be brave enough to hold on to it in battle. The similarities to the Spirit’s sword are astounding! The Holy Spirit knows exactly what He wants His sword to accomplish. Our job is to simply hold on as He directs it where he wants it to go.
This sword is God’s Word.
Watching the War Room movie revealed to me the power of praying God’s Word. I had never been much of a prayer warrior because I didn’t see enough tangible results to keep me going. When I started praying actual Bible verses over family and friends, crazy things started to happen. God answered prayers so quickly and deliberately that it actually scared me. In January, several of us at ACWM began praying together in earnest. We prayed Scripture over our ministries, our families, and ourselves. Already, just a short eight months later, we have seen life-changing answers to prayers. The answers have not always been what we expected, but we can all trace them back to the Bible verses we prayed.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.” –Hebrews 4:12 ISV
This sword is Jesus Himself.
“How?” you ask, “Can the sword be Jesus?” Remember in your math days how you had to learn silly properties of numbers? They were so obviously true, that memorizing them seemed to be a waste of time. One in particular was “If A=B and B=C, then A=C.” Duh. It turns out that this property actually has a purpose here. Let me explain.
In this case our “A=B” is that the sword IS the Word of God, as we learned in our last point.
Our “B=C” is that the Word of God IS Jesus Himself. John 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” A few verses later, John 1:14 defines who the Word is: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV) The “Word” is equal to God. The “Word” is the part of the God head that came to earth to pay for our sins. Jesus is the Word of God.
Therefore our “A=C” is that Jesus Himself is the Holy Spirit’s sword.
This mighty sword may be the only offensive piece of our spiritual armor, but no other offensive weapon could be more powerful. The sword that we carry involves both God the Spirit and God the Son…two-thirds of the Godhead! No wonder God promised that no weapon formed against us shall prosper!! (Isaiah 54:17) No atomic explosion could be a greater force than God Himself. This is THE ULTIMATE spiritual weapon.
This sword is activated by prayer.
How do we use this incredible weapon? How can we actually hold and manage the power it contains? Again, the diagram reveals the answer. The action in the sentence is “take”. We take up the helmet and sword. The phrase “praying always in the Spirit” describes how we take them up. This weapon is activated by Holy Spirit-led prayer. Prayer connects us to the source of divine power that destroys the powers of darkness.
This is why the great revivals of history have been ushered in by the humble, fervent prayers of God’s people. In praying Scripture over our families, our churches, our nations, we hold the Holy Spirit’s sword as He tears down strongholds that prevent the work of God. When we gather with other believers, the prayers increase in intensity and power.
None of us may be the next Billy Graham, but all of us can unite in prayer, speaking Scripture over the strongholds in us and around us. Together, our prayers can wield the sword that cuts down the enemy in our homes, churches, and in our nation. Our prayers will not return void. If we are faithful in prayer, we will see God awaken a sleeping church, bring the dead to life, and create beauty from ashes.