In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, [18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.] —Ephesians 6:16-17 
Observe the Text
Continuing our discussion of the armor of God, we now turn to Ephesians 6:16-18. These verses teach us about the remaining three pieces of the armor: the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We must take note that “having put on” the first three pieces of the armor, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sandals prepared with the gospel remain fastened in place on the body of the soldier.
These last three pieces are different. Paul tells us to “take up” the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. There is the sense of activity. The soldier exercises discretion in his use of the shield, helmet, and sword. Observe also that the armor of God directs the posture and attention of the Christian forward. We fix our eyes on Jesus. As He said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:61). A good soldier will face the enemy and push forward.
The Shield of Faith
What is the faith that is shielding us in the fight? Since we know the armor of God is for the Christian, the shield of faith must be the deep assurance that comes from steady, daily trust in the promises of God. As God works sanctification within the believer, the believer’s faith grows. The Christian will be working out his or her faith in daily, in moment by moment union with Christ, dependent upon God (Philippians 2:12-13).
Taking up the shield of faith enables us to withstand all the fiery arrows of Satan’s temptations that try to get us to look away from our Savior. The Roman soldier’s shield was large, normally about 4’ x 2.5’, and covered with leather that the soldier would soak in water before battle. The flaming arrows hitting that shield would be extinguished, and so it is with the shield of faith. When Satan lets fly the fiery arrows of temptation to despair and makes accusations against you, take up the shield of faith and stand fast.
The Helmet of Salvation
The soldier’s helmet was a cap made of thick leather, not the metal helmet of medieval armor. It could easily be put on and off as needed. We are told to take up the helmet of salvation as protection for our minds. Our salvation in Christ Jesus has freed us from the power of sin and the onslaughts of Satan. It has justified us before our holy heavenly Father and given us the Holy Spirit who teaches, guides, and nurtures us in God’s wisdom. Scripture says, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and “…in Christ are hidden all the treasures and wisdom of knowledge…that no one may delude with plausible arguments” (Colossians 2:3-4).
The Sword of the Spirit
Oh glorious, exquisite aid for our soul’s fight: the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God! Take it up and stand. Our only offensive weapon must be of the Holy Spirit who gives the Word of God and inspires it. The Spirit teaches us God’s wisdom and truth as we read, memorize, study, and obey God’s Word. Daily be in your Bible, soaking up the promises of God, placing His sword in your hand to wield against the enemy. Follow Jesus’ example, who when tempted by Satan in the wilderness, countered with “It is written…”
The lies of Satan cannot prevail in our lives when subjected to the Word of God. Never be without your sword—“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The Prayer Warrior
The armor of God is essential as we pray. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, it is spiritual. In every prayer—and especially in intercessory prayer for the lost, for our world, church and home—do not be afraid, doubtful, or despairing. Put on the whole armor of God and persevere when the evil one’s flaming arrows start to fly. Persevere when your faith is tested by God and you are tempted to doubt He will answer your prayers. Be alert! Watch and pray! Lift up the sword of the Spirit in your prayers, pray at all times in the Spirit, and trust our King, The King of Kings, who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.
In our brief study of Ephesians 6:10-18, what have you found most helpful in your present situation?
In what ways is the armor of God essential in prayer?
God wants us to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood. What impact does this truth have on your treatment of and prayers for those who persecute you for the sake of Christ?