This is he last sermon for this series and I have to say I have enjoyed it immensely because it allowed me to look at a passage again with fresh eyes and combine it with my love for history. It has been interesting in looking at this passage through the eyes of Paul and the imagery he was trying to invoke by referring to the Roman soldier and making a correlation to our fight as Christians against he forces of darkness. I always feel a touch of sadness when I end a series especially when the topic is good.
The passage concludes with an admonition to pray particularly for courage and it is this prayer that I will list as our final piece of armor. The Roman army did not just rely on its armor and small unit tactics. It had a support structure. First was the fact that Roman soldiers also carried throwing spears that could strike an enemy down but even more than that they could call for catapult and ballista support when they needed it. Even more than that they could call for help. The entire Roman system was about having troops where they needed them to be. The road system and communication system at the time was one of the best and I can’t help but think that Paul is referencing this idea when he talks about prayer and petition.
When it comes to prayer, the Christian also much like the Word underestimates its power. Prayer is a weapon and a frightfully powerful one. Because of this Christian do a couple of things with prayer. 1) We use it wrongly for our own purposes as James mentions and 2) We think it insignificant. The first can only be remedied by a change of heart and understanding that first a primarily prayer is about God’s kingdom and not our own little world. Does God allow us to take our needs to him? Certainly but there is a reason the Lord’s prayer start with the ideas of glorifying God and asking for his will and kingdom to come. It is a question of priorities. The Christian Soldier puts the priorities of Christ ahead of his own desires.
The second is a failure to understand that prayer is power. To many people feel the need to do something instead of praying or using prayer as a last resort when all else has failed. “I don’t want just pray, I want to do something.” is a statement that does not understand the nature or power of prayer. Prayer is the ultimate doing something and it is more than just anything. When you understand prayer, you understand it is the ultimate thing to do.
There is one final issue about prayer and the Christian soldier. Prayer reminds us to be humble. The armor of God is powerful and there is a temptation to get a big head about ourselves when we have it on. We feel invulnerable and thus there is a tendency to get cocky. The problem is no matter how much skill you have or how strong your armor is there forces of darkness are larger than you individually and larger than even the church can handle without help. Prayer reminds us that without God to give us the victory we will lose.