Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that they must stand against the wiles and schemes of Satan through prayer.  He stresses that we should take up the sword of the Spirit prayerfully. John MacArthur writes the following,

            “Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor and wield the sword. We cannot fight the battle in our own power, no matter how strong or talented we may think we are.”

            Concerning the importance of prayer in a. Christian’s life and how he or she can use it, Jack Cottrell writes the following,

            “Paul closes his exhortations about the whole armor of God by instructing us to pray at each step of the way (v. 18). This teaching about prayer is not naming prayer as the seventh piece of armor but is telling us that we need to be approaching God with all kinds of prayers and petitions as we are putting to use the six items that he has just described. This is the final admonition concerning how we are to “stand firm” (v. 14) in our spiritual warfare with Satan and his demons.”

            When it says, “pray at all times,” it does not mean that we are always saying prayer, rather it means that we should be always in a spirit of prayer. Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing.” (ESV) The Christian Standard Bible renders it thus, “pray constantly.”  What this says to me is that we must be always ready to address our Heavenly Father in prayer through the Lord Jesus.

            In verse 18, Paul uses the word “all” in this passage to stress the importance of prayer in the believer’s life.

  • All times in the Spirit (We dealt with this in the above paragraph.)
  • All prayer and supplication (We dealt with this also in the previous paragraph.
  • All perseverance (Keep alert)
  • All the saints.

In keeping with Paul describing a Roman soldier and his armor and his training and duties, he uses the words, “stay alert with all perseverance.” (CSB). John MacArthur writes,

“Watching means ‘keeping on the alert.’ The phrase ‘watch and pray’ occurs often in Scripture. God expects us to use God-given senses, led by the Spirit, so that we detect Satan when he is beginning to work.”

This idea about being alert and persevering in our Christian lives permeates the New Testament.  It occurred in the ministry of Jesus in Mark 14:38 and in our view of the return of the Lord Jesus (Mark 13:32-28; cf. 1 Peter 4:7). Other place in the New Testament that stress this in the life of the believer are found in Acts 2:42; 4:23-3; 6:4; 12:5; Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2). We must always persist in our prayers to overcome fatigue, discouragement, and hardship, and for boldness in our witness.

The last “all” is making intercession for “all the saints.” One of the themes of the Book of Ephesians is that of the unity of the church. We should be in prayer for our fellow believers. When we become Christians, we gain a new family of faith.


Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Word & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ in New Albany, IN.