Study 10 PRAYING ALWAYS WITH ALL PRAYER
(Scripture Portion: Ephesians 6: 18-24)
Paul was a man of prayer. Prayer was the secret of his life, of his amazing influence, of his suffering and endurance, of his burning passion for the souls of men, and consequently he is the one man, apart from the Lord Jesus Himself, who is most qualified to instruct us in the holy art of praying. In the verses before us there are seven vital truths about prayer.
1. Prayer is the Great Essential
Paul speaks of the armour we are to put on, and then he goes straight on without a break – “Praying at all times…” It is tremendously important for a soldier to have on the right armour and to be equipped with a sword, but what is equally important is that the soldier should keep in constant communication with his Commander-in-chief (Hebrews 2: 10). The Christian, while he is on the field of battle, is in direct touch with the throne of God, and the prayer-line of communication with our risen Lord must never be broken. Prayer is the great essential: it is certainly not optional; it is fundamental.
2. We must Pray at All Times.
Paul not only exhorts us to pray, but to pray “on all occasions”, and this reminds us of 1 Thessalonians 5: 17, which means that we are to seek to live in the very atmosphere and attitude of prayer. It is most important that we should have set times for prayer – like Daniel who prayed three times a day (Daniel 6: 10); like David who prayed three times a day (Psalm 55: 17), and later told us that he prayed seven times a day (Psalm 119: 164); and like the Saviour who constantly withdrew into the place of prayer (Luke 6: 12). Then, we may pray at special times: for instance, when in trouble (Psalm 55: 16); when needing guidance (James 1: 5); when tempted (Psalm 69: 1); when persecuted (Psalm 7: 1); when disturbing letters arrive (Isaiah 37: 14); when sickness threatens (James 5: 14); and whenever there is a need of any kind (Philippians 4: 6).
3. We Must Employ All Kinds of Prayer.
“All kinds of prayers and requests” suggests that prayer may consist of Adoration, Praise, Thanksgiving, Petition, Supplication or Intercession. But consider the following three “kinds” of prayer – Individual prayer (Matthew 6: 6); the prayer of agreement (Matthew 18: 19); and corporate prayer (Acts 12: 5).
4. We Must Keep on Praying.
We are always to keep on praying and to remain alert (verse 18) – look up Luke 18: 1, and compare Luke 11: 5-8. We need persistence – look up 1 Kings 18: 43. The words “be alert” indicate that there are perils in prayer, and so there are! There is the peril of: (1) Distraction. How often other things crowd in and prevent us from praying! (2) Disinclination. This may be due to tiredness or to preoccupation with worldly things; (3) Discouragement. Perhaps we have prayed once, or even twice, and then we have become impatient because the answer has not come! (4) Despair. The situation sometimes seems so impossible – even for God! – so instead of trusting Him we are overwhelmed with a sense of frustration and even of futility of prayer; (5) Defeat. Yes, overwhelming defeat! – look up Judges 16: 20.
5. We Must Pray for All Saints.
It is, of course, impossible to pray individually for all saints, and yet in a general sense, and certainly in a systematic sense, we may do so. We may pray, for example, regularly and systematically for: (1) God’s suffering saints; (2) God’s sinning saints. Do you ever pray for these? – for Christians who are tempted and overcome by the world, the flesh and the Devil – backsliders who have been tripped up by the wiles of the Enemy? (3) God’s shut-in saints. So many who love the Lord are laid on one side by sickness, and such sickness has been permitted for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1: 12). These afflicted ones need prayer that they may receive grace to testify to the power and sufficiency of Christ. Pray for the new converts (Acts 9: 17); for workers to be thrust forth (Matthew 9:38); for the printing of Christian literature (Psalm 43: 3); for open doors for the gospel (1 Corinthians 16: 9); for Satan’s power to be broken (Luke 13: 12-16)…
6. We Must Pray for Workers in the Forefront of the Battle.
Verses 19 and 20 teach us that those who are in prominent positions in Christian service are in special need of the prayers of God’s people – look up Acts 4:29. How should we pray for preachers, evangelists, teachers and leaders in God’s harvest field? That they may have utterance, boldness and grace to preach the gospel.
7. All Our Praying to be Effective Must Be “In the Spirit”.
Here is the secret of it all – “in the Spirit” (verse 18) – compare Romans 8: 26-27.
It is gloriously true that, as William Cowper wrote, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees”; and Alfred Lord Tennyson was right when he wrote:
- “More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of, wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain before me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep and goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer,
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?”