Teaching Your Kids to Put On the Armor of God
Every person who draws breath on this planet is caught in a celestial battle between God and Satan; between angels and demons; between good and evil. The Bible makes this clear and instructs the believer to be prepared for spiritual warfare.
It doesn't matter how old you are – which means your children are in this spiritual battle today and every day. How are you helping them prepare for the encounters they will have with the forces of evil?
When my children were in grade school, almost every morning we put on the armor together in prayer. I'll share the special way that we did it so you can use it as a guide for your family.
The apostle Paul gives us insight into our spiritual circumstance in the sixth chapter of Ephesians:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12, NLT)
Just before this verse, Paul encourages believers to:
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. (Eph. 6:10b-11, NLT)
Paul goes on to list the specific parts we need for our full armor. He is not merely using metaphorical language as some would lead us to believe. The war in the heavens is all too real. We ignore this spiritual conflict at our peril.
Why would Paul tell us to dress for battle and give us the list of the specific articles of our spiritual armor if the battle in question was just symbolic?
I believe this is particularly important in raising children. My kids are now grown and facing some of the challenges of adult life. Recently I spoke to my son about a difficult situation he was going through and reminded him of the importance of walking in right relationship with God (the breastplate of righteousness); of standing on the promises of God (shield of faith); and of declaring the Word of God over his circumstances (the sword of the Spirit).
"Now you know why we put on the full armor of God every day when you were growing up," I explained.
Here is how we put on the full armor. Feel free to use this method, or seek the Lord to augment this prayer however it will work for you and your kids.
1. Heavenly Father, we come to you in the name of Jesus and we thank you for this day. We enter your gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and we enter your courts with praise (Psalm 100:4)
2. Father we thank you for… (Thank Him for specific answers to prayer or special people or events in your life as the Lord leads you).
3. Now we put on the full armor of God (We put it on from the ground up, ending with the sword of the Spirit. You can also follow the exact order that Paul uses in Ephesians, which also ends with the sword).
4. We put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. We walk in your peace and we run to tell other people about Jesus.
5. We put on the belt of truth. We walk in your truth; we tell the truth; and we find the truth in the Bible.
6. We put on the breastplate of righteousness to guard our hearts. Thank you Father, that because of the blood of Jesus, you make us right just as if we never did anything wrong. (Note the play on words – "right-just-as if" sounds like "righteousness." Using these kinds of phrases helps children remember the concepts – especially when they are grown – Prov. 22:6).
7. We put on the helmet of salvation to guard our mind, will, and emotions (the soul). Thank you Lord that I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). School, work, and everything I need to do, I CAN DO because you help me (Phil. 4:13, John 16:13)
8. We take up the shield of faith to quench the fiery arrows of the devil. Thank you Lord, that as I put my trust in you, you protect me, strengthen me, and help me through my day.
9. Finally, we take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to fight back against the devil.
At this point I would yell out, "And what do we say?" And the kids would yell back, "It is written." (If they were not quite awake that morning I would yell it again with emphasis to encourage them to respond more enthusiastically).
Every other part of the armor is defensive, but the sword of the Spirit is our offensive weapon – which is why we say we "fight back" with the sword.
We say "it is written" in the same way that Jesus did when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus wielded the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in his response to Satan's three temptations (unlike Adam and Eve who were tempted three times but didn't use the sword of God's Word). Our children need to understand that we overcome the temptations and trials from the devil, "by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death" (Rev. 12:11)
10. Father, we ask you to cover each one of us in the blood of Jesus and assign angels around us this day. We love you, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
We prayed this prayer every weekday (and many weekends) as I drove the kids to school, or before we started our day. It was an important way to put God first in our lives (Matt. 6:33).
Believers need to take seriously Paul's encouragement to put on God's armor – and to teach our children to do the same. Some would advocate placing each part of the armor on yourself in your daily prayer time. Others say it is sufficient to just place the whole armor on yourself in prayer daily, or at some point throughout the week. Each person should seek the direction of the Holy Spirit for themselves in how, and how often to put on the full armor of God.
If you don't already do so, I encourage you to put on the full armor of God in prayer as a part of your daily walk with the Lord. In addition to protecting and strengthening you in the spiritual battle that we all face, I believe it will be an encouraging reminder to you and your children of God's faithfulness and protection in your lives.
© Craig von Buseck. All rights reserved.