As Paul closes this letter, its as if he is saying to his readers, “the most important thing is prayer”. Followers of Jesus must be constantly in prayer.
Verse 18 is a continuation of verse 17, putting on the armor of God. But the armor is useless without prayer, much like a military vehicle is useless without fuel.
We put on the armor of God, we take up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, prayerfully. Prayer is not simply something that we do, prayer is the fuel that is essential for us to stand firm in Christ.
Ephesians 6:18 reads, “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,”
As Christians, we are engaged in a daily spiritual battle, and prayer is the essential means that God has given us to win the battles we face. Prayer is a gift from God and one that is grossly underutilized in our churches.
As we look at the phrase, “praying at all times in the Spirit”, Paul wants us to realize the fact that all true prayer is empowered by the Holy Spirit. We come to the Father, through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Spirit is interceding for us when we don’t know how to pray. Only in the power of the Spirit can we pray the will of God. Otherwise, we will always pray with selfish motives.
The Holy Spirit takes our prayers and ignites them so that they become a holy offering before God. It is the Holy Spirit who takes our prayers and presents them in the will of God before the Father. Do you see the importance of prayer?
Now it is possible to pray in the flesh, and not in the spirit, not praying in the will of God. We need to learn how to pray the will of God in the Spirit. As we pick up the sword of the Spirit and we pray the Word of God back to Him, it is infused with power from the Holy Spirit.
Each piece of armor must be carefully put on with prayer, drawing upon divine resources.
This prayer is Spirit-energized, Spirit-enabled, and Spirit-directed. Prayer is the energy that enables the follower of Jesus to stand firm in the armor and to wield the sword effectively.
In verse 18 we see the word “all” used four times.
- We are to pray all the time. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
This does not mean we are always on our knees in prayer. Rather it means living with the continuous realization that we have an open line to God. We are always in His presence because His spirit is within us.
God hears and sees everything you say and do. Every curse and every blessing that you speak is heard by God. We don’t have to let God know that we are coming into His presence, because He is already with us and we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Are you aware of your continuous prayers?
- Pray with all prayer and supplication
There is so much more to prayer than simply asking God for things. Prayer is a mixture of worship, thanksgiving, repentance and supplication. The Christian who jumps straight into asking God for things, misses out on the relationship that comes from worship and thanksgiving.
We have one rule at our Tuesday morning prayer times in the chapel. The first thirty minutes is only praise and worship, we don’t ask God for anything. It is amazing how that first thirty minutes aligns our hearts with the heart of God and then we pray with insight and direction for the remaining thirty minutes.
- Pray with all perseverance:
Like good soldiers, we must stay alert and be disciplined. Jesus encouraged his disciples in his most crucial hour to stay alert and pray (see Mark 4:38). We need to teach and develop spiritual disciplines today!
It is frightening to learn how few people pray, read their Bibles, fast, or tithe. These are all basic spiritual disciplines that come with a blessing.
If we look at the lack of spiritual discipline in the church, it is no wonder the church has such a weak witness. No wonder people no longer view the church as essential.
Perseverance in prayer does not mean we are trying to twist God’s arm, but rather that we are deeply concerned and burdened and cannot rest until we get God’s answer.
The early church prayed without ceasing when Peter was in prison in Acts 12, and they persevered until the angel set him free. Keep on praying until the Spirit stops you or the Father answers you.
- Pray for all the saints.
The Lords’ Prayer begins with our Father, not my father. When we become followers of Jesus, we become part of the family. You have a responsibility to look out for and to pray for all your new family.
Unity in the body of Christ is a major focus of this letter and unity grows as we intercede for one another. Even Paul asked for the prayer support of the Ephesians in verses 19 and 20. If Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do we need them.
Note that Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry. Paul is arguably the greatest theologian and missionary in history, and he knows that he is dependent on the prayers of the saints.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of the sharp edges of the Sword of the Spirit, however it means nothing if you do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know who you are…in Christ?