Ephesians Bible Study (Your True Identity)

Ephesians 6:18-20, Keeping Alert With Prayer

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The apostle Paul completes the armor of God imagery by instructing Christians in the necessity of prayer.  Paul has pictured our walk with God as warfare against the devil. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul said that we are struggling, wrestling, and battling against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore the armor of God in needed. We stand firm against the enemy’s schemes through prayer. Prayer is the critical line of communication while we exist on this battlefield. Too often we can miss the purpose of prayer. But the reason why we miss the purpose of prayer is that we fail to see that we are in a spiritual battle. Prayer is not the means of receiving goodies for our physical comforts but the life line needed to survive the attack of the devil. This is the idea of praying, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit. A life dependent on God in prayer is essential for standing in the faith.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

Prayer is our lifeline. Prayer is how we communicate to our homeland where the Father lives. When Jesus was about to encounter the excruciating suffering of the cross, he spent his final free moments in prayer. Prayer is a great tool given to us by the Lord for standing in this life.

Pray Comprehensively

As Paul introduces the necessity of prayer you will observe in verse 18 that the key word is “all.” Four times he says “all.” So Paul is teaching us the need to pray comprehensively. Let’s examine these four aspects for comprehensive prayer.

Praying at all times in the Spirit.

When should we pray? Paul says that we need to pray at all times. Everywhere and in every place at every time. In Acts 2:42 we see that one of the things the early Christians devoted themselves to was prayer. Paul constantly instructed believers in his letters that they needed to continue in prayer.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12 ESV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 ESV)

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV)

Prayer is a lifestyle. Prayer is not merely a moment in time for a quick hit conversation. But we are in regular thoughts and words to the Lord throughout the day. We are on the spiritual battlefield and we need to talk to our king. Constancy in prayer is not talking to God only when we want something, but know God fully and draw close to him. This is what we are to understand about praying in the Spirit. We are praying for God’s direction and God’s way at all times.

I want us to think about this concept for a moment. God wants us to talk to him. God delights in our conversation with him. Can you imagine if your children talked to you only when they wanted something? You never had any conversation with your children unless they were asking you for something! This would be a dysfunctional relationship. How can it be that we could go hours, days, weeks, or longer not talking to our Father? Then, once we do talk to our Father, it is only because we have a problem! Prayer is a conversation with the Father. This is how we pray at all times. God is inviting us to have a conversation with him. God is giving us the line of communication for this spiritual battle where God hears our prayers and gives us the strength we need. We delight in entering the presence of God through prayer and God delights in us coming into his presence with prayer. It is an amazing picture that God has given us so that we can be strengthened.

Pray with all prayer.

Did you notice the strange construction of the second “all?” Paul says that we need be praying with all prayer and supplication. A supplication is a request. The point is that God receives all kinds of prayers. Make all your requests known to the Lord.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

God says to let your requests go to God. It is time to launch prayers! Pray all kinds of prayers. This is the praying at all times in the Spirit that we are doing. We are praying thanks. We are praying our needs. We are praying for strength. We are praying for help. We are just talking to God about everything that is going on. There is nothing mundane to the Lord. Launch your prayers to God. There is nothing that God does not want to hear.

Now this is an amazing thing that we can move the hand of the sovereign God. We see people throughout the scriptures who are able to stand through prayer. They are moving God through prayer. From people like Abraham to Hezekiah, we see God responding to prayer. So God is telling us to launch any prayers to him. Talk to him. Pray with all prayers and requests. There is nothing too small for the hand of the Lord.

Stay alert with all perseverance.

Further, we are told to keep alert with all perseverance. Keep alert reminds us that we are on the spiritual battlefield and we need this constant communication with our Lord. Jesus had the same concern that the apostle Paul expresses here. In Luke 18 Jesus told a parable to that “they ought to always pray and not lose heart.” The concern is that we will stop being vigilant and diligent in prayer. We will pray at times but then we will stop. Jesus wants us to always pray. We are to pray without ceasing and not lose heart as we pray.

Why do we need perseverance in prayer? Why do we need to pray always and not lose heart? For there to be this concern implies that something would happen to cause us to lose heart and stop being steadfast in prayer. The problem is that when we pray we do not get answers immediately every time we ask. If every time I prayed the answer was given to me instantly, I would not need to worry about losing perseverance in prayer. The issue is that this is not how prayer operates. Prayer is not a microwave. We do not launch the prayer, open the door, and out comes the answer like microwave popcorn. The concern for not losing heart in prayer means that we are going to pray and have delayed answers and negative responses to our prayers. So we need to dig in to the practice of prayer. We tend to let up in prayer because we do not see immediate answers or responses. Jesus and Paul instruct us not to do this. Keep alert in this spiritual battle with prayer with ALL perseverance. Persist in prayer to overcome discouragement, hardships, and suffering. Stay in prayer. Do not let up. Do not give prayer up. Keep alert with the Lord with a constancy in prayer.

Pray for all the family of God.

Finally, Paul says that our prayers should be for all the family of God. Pray for all the Lord’s people. God tells us to make requests on behalf of each other. It is so wonderful to know that other believers are praying for you. It is wonderful to hear people pray on your behalf. We have a prayer list and we must be persevering in prayer for one another. We have people who are under the attack of the devil. We must be calling God in on their behalf.

Which means that we need to tell each other about what we need prayer for in our lives. Notice that we see Paul do this in verse 19. Paul asks the Ephesian Christians to pray for him. He needs boldness right now to proclaim the gospel because he is imprisoned. So he needs them to call on God for him. Paul asked these Christians to pray for him. We must be willing to open our lives to each other and let others know what we need prayers for. I am grateful that so many of you share your lives with me and ask me to pray for you for the things going on in your life. I have asked you all on many occasions to pray for us and most recently concerning our daughter Grace. Pray for the family of God. Pray for each other. Tell each other what we need prayers for in our lives.

Conclusion

These are the four “alls” of prayer that Paul instructs for us. Pray at all times with all kinds of prayer, keeping alert in prayer with all perseverance, praying for each other as we walk with our Lord and stand against the attacks of the devil.

Prayer no longer becomes a mere habit or discipline of Christian faith when we see how Paul describes next to the armor of God. Prayer is our communication line to our faith in the midst of the battle. Make today the time when you will speak to your Father always about all things in your life. There is something wrong when children do not speak to their parents about their lives daily and regularly. God is inviting you to have a conversation with him. The Almighty Sovereign God listens and acts on behalf of his people. Pray without ceasing.

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