In our daily meditations, we have been talking about the spiritual defenses that God gives believers while we live in this world. After talking about the armor, Paul the apostle writes about the offensive weapons that God also gives. Some believe that Paul only mentions one weapon, the sword of the Spirit, but it is possible that his second offensive weapon could not be typified by any part of a Roman soldier's armor. His next sentence after the sword mentions prayer without making an analogy to the Roman soldier. Here is what Paul wrote about the second offensive spiritual weapon:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).
There are some among the church worldwide who would say that when Paul is talking about praying in the Spirit, he is writing about praying in tongues. They would remind us of two verses from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian believers:
2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful (1 Corinthians 14:2, 14).
In talking about offensive prayer (Ephesians 6:18), this writer believes that Paul is talking about all kinds of Spirit-led and empowered prayer that break down demonic strongholds, not only in people but also in territory dominated by demonic spirits. Prayer in the Spirit may be individuals led to pray in an unknown tongue but do not discount praying in your own language, as the Spirit influences you. Paul wrote: “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). He writes that not all Christians speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30). The Corinthians were a very gifted group of people, but I can’t see Paul writing to the believers in Ephesus (the verses on spiritual warfare we are focusing on) that praying in the Spirit was to pray only in tongues. The Body of Christ is a multi-faceted spiritual organism where the gifts and talents of us all are able to pull down spiritual strongholds through many different kinds of prayer. Spirit-led prayer is always backed up by the authority of God and the presence of the Spirit.
We have an example of this type of Spirit-led prayer in Acts 4:23-31. Peter and John were put in jail by the Jewish leadership for the "crime" of healing the lame man at the gate called Beautiful. The court appearance before the Sanhedrin was set for the next day. Peter, under the control and influence of the Spirit, spoke fearlessly telling the Chief Priests, Scribes, and leaders that they would not stop talking about Jesus. After many threats, they were released. Notice what the believers did after this persecution:
23When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David your servant, said, 'why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? 26'the kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ.' 27"For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29 "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:23-31 Emphasis mine).
The early disciples saw that their fight was not against the flesh and blood leaders of Israel, but against dark spiritual forces. How did they respond to this demonic persecution? They prayed passionately in unison with voices raised to God. They didn’t take turns to pray; they all prayed out loud in various kinds of languages as the Spirit led them. The result of this kind of prayer was the meeting room was shaken by the Spirit presence, and the believers were again filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the message of God with boldness. We need congregational prayer like this. My prayer today is that we are shaken in such a way by the Holy Spirit. Keith Thomas
This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study: Offensive Weapons of the Believer