Put on the full armor
so that you can take your stand
Roman soldiers, when marching into battle, carried a shield approximately four and one-half feet long by two and one-half feet wide. Usually made of three sheets of wood glued together and covered with canvas and leather, the shield protected the soldier from his chin to his knees. During times of siege, the soldiers would gather in a “tortoise” formation shaping a rectangle with shields raised around the perimeter.
The soldiers in the center would lift their shields, resting them on the Roman helmets and overlapping in order to prevent arrows from penetrating their tortoise-like shell. In this manner, the entire formation stood strong and protected from the enemy.
When writing to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul explained how, in the Christian life, we battle against spiritual forces. He used the wardrobe of the Roman soldier, something with which the people of Ephesus would have been familiar, to explain how to use the armor of God.
Paul not only listed the shield but told the church to “put on the full armor of God…” then proceeded to list the necessary items:
The belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
Feet fitted with the gospel of peace
The shield of faith
The helmet of salvation
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
And in verse eighteen he added:
“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.”
Here, Paul outlined what I like to call the Spiritual Tortoise Shell. After putting on all the armor, pray—in the Spirit—on all occasions—with all kinds of prayers and requests. And, do not forget to be alert, watchful, and attentive. Watch out for the snares or attacks of the enemy. And always keep on praying for all the saints.”
While this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, it was also intended for circulation among other churches. In this manner, the Apostle Paul emphasized the need for both individual submission to Christ as well as love, mercy, charity, and kindness toward all the saints—fellow believers and followers of Christ—through constant prayer.
Although written nearly two thousand years ago, these instructions remain valid and necessary. What would happen in our world today if every person who has surrendered to Christ as Lord would follow the instructions to keep on praying, in the Spirit, for all the saints? I hope the next time the enemy sets his sights on me, my fellow Christians will have me covered with a spiritual tortoise shell because of their constant prayers. God’s armor is our hope for the battle.