Monday, 21 November 2016
…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:18
Paul is still referring to the “whole armor of God” in these words. Though they are not being described with a metaphor as the previous verses were, they still follow the same thought. We know this with certainty, because it follows in the same admonition which was given in verse 10. There he instructs us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” In order to accomplish this, we are to be “praying always.”
This fits with the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.” This does not mean that we get on our knees and stay there all day without accomplishing anything else. There are many types of prayers and the admonition fits any of them at any given time. There are formal prayers and informal prayers. There are silent prayers of the heart given in our times of distress or deep need, and there are vocal prayers which are given to build up others for courage, comfort, or edification. There are secret prayers, given between oneself and God which reveal the innermost soul of the one praying. There are public prayers offered for gatherings of God’s people as they meet to worship or petition Him. There are prepared prayers which are meticulously worded in order to inspire deep conviction, reverence, or courage. And there are sudden prayers which leap out of our souls as we come upon a moment of need.
Paul’s admonition to be “praying always” is one which should be taken literally. There is never a time that we can simply talk to God and it not be considered a “prayer.”
We are also to pray always with “supplication.” Prayer is more general, whereas supplication is more specific. When one has a family member suffering with illness, he will petition God through supplication, begging for relief for his loved one.
But whether it is through prayer or supplication, it is to be “in the Spirit.” This means that the heart is to be directed to God, and the prayers are not to simply be rote repetitions. The idea of “praying the rosary” is never hinted at in Scripture. We aren’t to just mindlessly repeat things in our prayers, but we are to rather use our minds and hearts to join with God in our prayer life.
Next he tells us that we are to be “watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Paul’s admonition to be watchful means that we are to look around us, observe what is going on, determine a need in others, and then to offer our prayers for that need. We aren’t to simply have our eyes closed to the world around us, but to be aware of what is happening in order to make effective prayers. These prayers then are to be “with all perseverance and supplication.”
When the need is seen, we don’t just pray once and cease, but we should rather pray frequently and specifically (supplication) for that which is before us. This is to be done “for all the saints” as well. We may not all agree in life, but if we are chosen by God because of having received Jesus Christ as our Savior, we should not withhold our prayers for our brothers and sisters. Color of skin, nation of origin, social status, and the like… none of these things should be a barrier to our offering of prayers for others.
Life application: Much is written about prayers and prayer life, books in fact. We can spend so much time reading about how to pray, and yet we can completely ignore the simple admonition that we are to be “praying always.” We don’t need to read books about how to pray. We need to simply pray. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, and our hearts focused on our relationship with God. In so doing, prayers will come naturally through simple and heartfelt communication.
Lord God, sometimes we might feel that our prayer life is weak and ineffective, but this doesn’t mean we need to attend a seminar on how to pray. Your word gives us all we need to know on the subject. We can just look at the prayers recorded there and emulate them. And if we followed the simple admonition which says to “pray without ceasing” we would probably find that our prayer life is really an extension of our daily interactions with others. Just as we speak to our friends and associates, so we can also speak to You. Help us to remember this, and to keep our channels of communication open to You at all times. Be with us in this, and be our close and personal prayer Receiver! Amen.