Life is a battle! We all can relate, but when Paul wrote a letter to his friends in Ephesus he was referring to an unseen spiritual battle. Spiritual battles are referenced throughout the Bible. Here is one example; it is Daniel’s story as described in chapter 10 of his book. Earlier, Daniel had received terrible visions of future events, visions that really blew his mind, and he needed some more explanation from God to understand them better. Three weeks of silence went by during which Daniel fasted and prayed. Then suddenly a messenger from God arrived on the scene. Here is Daniel’s narrative of the angel’s visit (Daniel 10:11-14): “And the man [the Angel of God] said to me: ‘Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.’ When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
12 Then he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.’”
Daniel’s story gives us a glimpse of a raging battle happening behind the scenes as we speak. We cannot see it with our natural eyes, but it is very real nonetheless. Have you been in a battle lately? Maybe you have enemies who want to make your life very difficult. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul’s perspective goes beyond hostilities you and I may experience. He looks at the source of our grief when he says: “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.”
That means even if you happen to face the most evil person on the planet, a person who wants to destroy you, and does everything imaginable to make that happen, in all reality you are not dealing with just an evil person, you are also dealing with a dark force represented by this evil person. This dark force is very real. It wants to grip your heart and crush it. Thinking about this I realize that despite the many battlefields we have to face in our lifetime – the true battlefield is in the human heart, which is important to note because we need to know how to protect ourselves. About protection in spiritual battles Paul writes in the same letter (Ephesians 6:13): “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Our fragile heart needs protection. It’s our precious centerpiece, the seat of our passion and love; and as children of God our heart is first and foremost our personal temple where the Holy Spirit resides; the temple of our heart is where we worship God. So our heart is a sacred place in the eyes of God, and we need to treat it with care. If you own something that is very dear to you, you’ll treat it with the utmost consideration. You’ll lock it with a security code, and you’ll do anything to not lose that precious thing. Your heart is more than precious; it’s unique and can’t be replaced. In order not to lose heart, here is where the spiritual armor comes in. We continue reading in Ephesians, chapter 6:14-18:
“14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
In other words: stick with the truth, don’t lose God’s values, bring peace by living the gospel, and don’t give up on faith, since your faith is shielding off all fiery ammunition meant to harm you. Have salvation on your mind and let the Word of God be your sword dissecting the right from the wrong. Prayer is what holds the entire armor together; in fact, I’m convinced prayer seals the armor. Prayer is a force to be reckoned with! And on that note, Paul is also asking for prayer support in his letter. While your personal prayer time is powerful your friends’ prayers are an added benefit! If your friends pray for you you’ll find double insulation from assaults against your person – and sometimes we beat ourselves up, which is not good either.
The bottom-line is: we need to protect our heart. We only got one, and it’s very precious!