Grow Strong in the Lord

Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power.

According to tradition, the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was in prison in Rome (around AD 62). While in Rome, I was blessed to visit the restored “house” where Paul was held under house arrest. Thinking of the great Apostle confined in those rooms, I can imagine this giant of a man whose missionary activity had touched the entire then-known world reflecting upon the purpose of life and the larger mission of Christianity in the world. I resonate, at least in a small way, in a similar time in my life in the weeks and months after my stroke when I had to come to grips that without God’s permission I could do nothing: I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t walk. As super as I had thought I was, busy, effective, bursting with ideas and energy, in reality I learned I was totally dependent on God.

People who are blessed with the ability to get things done, to envision the future, to organize and administrate—all of which were gifts Paul himself had received and which sustained him in his years of labor for and in Christ—know intimately that lightning-quick inner movement that constructs a roadmap for arriving at solutions and resolutions to issues when they arise. I like to think that Paul, in this reading, is showing us what he had gradually learned about living “in the Lord,” a truth that makes all activity fruitful.

He is telling the Ephesians and us, “Be empowered through your union with Christ, draw from Christ—and not yourself—the boundless strength he provides. For our strength as Christians cannot subsist outside of Christ. In Philippians he had written: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (cf. 4:13)

This is important to note because the armor which is described in the following verses as our proper attire is therefore of divine workmanship. The armor of God is given to us. It isn’t something we take up by creating it or choosing it ourselves. A soldier wears armor to protect and defend himself, whereas the armor that is described by Paul here, which God gives to us, consists of virtues which are useful for 1) defending us against the attack of the enemy, and 2) giving us strength in battle against the skillful, experienced, and malicious enemies which are the devil and his angels. A soldier’s armor protects him, but is powerless to strengthen him on the battlefield.

Therefore, put on the armor which God himself provides you: truth, righteousness and integrity. Run with stability and promptness to announce the Gospel of peace. Cover yourself with faith and wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming you can stand against the wiles of the evil one with your natural strength.

“In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion….”

No matter how virtuous we think we have become, how zealous we as missionaries, ministers, and Christians may be, how fantastic our projects and successful our plans, Paul is calling us through prayer to jettison self-reliance and to rely wholly on the Spirit’s enablement. Prayer is the very air we breathe. Prayer keeps us spiritually alive. Prayer makes us one with Christ.

What the Church and the world need today are people mighty in this battle of spiritual warfare, people who are filled with the Spirit and who run to do the Spirit’s bidding. Without prayer, to return to the imagery of the soldier’s armor, we shall be defeated in battle. And if we look to God in prayer, we shall triumph in the battle against every evil.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: Public Facebook Group: For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: