Prayer is defiance (one last tidbit from my work on Paul's Spirituality)
Because Paul wore Christ’s resurrection like body armor, the apostle was expecting a fight. He wasn’t surprised when he encountered resistance to the gospel (3:10-12). In fact, the armor of God explains why Paul kept returning to the same places where he was nearly killed. When you know you’re going to be raised from the dead on the last day, then no one or nothing can stop the proclamation of the gospel. To march in the army of Christ’s resurrection is an act of war against the devil. This is why Paul kept asking his converts to pray for him and for one another while he was in prison (Eph 6:18-20; Phil 1:3-11; 4:6; Col 4:2-4). It wasn’t simply a matter of asking for divine protection in the face of suffering and death. Paul knew Satan wouldn’t give up the battle. If the devil couldn’t threaten Christ believers with fear of suffering and death, then he would use other “schemes” to try to subvert the work of Christ. If he couldn’t win the fight using a frontal assault (worry, fear, suffering, and death cannot penetrate the armor of Christ), then he would get Christ believers to fight one another, stabbing each other in the back. That’s when the devil shows up in Paul’s letters. Paul accused Satan of trying to sneak into the churches as an “angel of light” and create dissension (2 Cor 11:13-15). Paul warned the Corinthians that Satan would exploit the unforgiving spirit of the house churches when a repentant member was excommunicated (2 Cor 2:5-11). Paul told the Ephesians not to “make room for the devil” by lying, cheating, and talking bad about one another (Eph 4:25-29). Embittered and angry, the Ephesians were grieving the Holy Spirit because they weren’t being “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you” (vv. 30-32).
This is why Paul kept reminding his converts to pray; Christ believers overcome Satan through prayer (1 Cor 7:5; 2 Thess 3:1-3). Prayer is confidence, an act of defiance against evil and suffering in a fallen world (2 Thess 1:5-12; Eph 3:8-21). Prayer is a memorial, an act of remembering what God has done (1 Thess 1:2-3; Phil 1:3-5). Prayer is perseverance, an act of thanksgiving knowing God will always be on our side (Eph 6:18-20; Col 4:2-4). When we pray for one another, we’re claiming God’s power is supreme. When we pray for one another, we remember our battle is not against “flesh and blood,” but against the powers of darkness. When we pray, we remind each other that we’re living between the “already” and “not yet” of Christ’s resurrection. When we pray, we contend for what is right. When we pray, we are telling the world we have nothing to fear. When we pray, we prove that we’re still fighting. When we pray, we find peace with God because He “is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20). When we pray, we are taking on the powers. The fact that we are able to fight proves that we have already won the battle.