The Place of Prayer in Your Life
“18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22 And I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible” (Ephesians 6:18-24, NASB).
What do you believe about prayer?
I am sure you could state many things about: the importance of prayer, the need of prayer, how prayer can help people and how God wants us to pray. You might even mention the report on those patients who were prayed for fared better than those who did not.
The way you find out what you believe about prayer is by what you do. For most believers it seems that they think that praying about five minutes a day is okay. Maybe they would pray more if they could, but they think they are doing their part with that five minutes a day. Most believers, however, do not spend much time evaluating their prayer lives. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:18-24 purposely speaks on prayer so that we would evaluate our habits of prayer and as necessary make changes in our lifestyles to pray as we ought.
Since this passage is the last study in the Book of Ephesians, let us first review the Book of Ephesians through a lens of prayer. Second, let us see what kind of prayer we should be involved in from the instruction in this passage and lastly reflect upon our own prayer lives.
A) The Place of Prayer in the Book of Ephesians
B) The Place of Prayer in a Believer’s Life (Ephesians 6:18-24)
C) The Place of Prayer in Your Life
A) The Place of Prayer in Ephesians
The Book of Ephesians is a thorough treatise on Christian living. We would like it to say more, but those kind of books never end. He had no access to web pages where one can write on and on without regards to space. He briefly touched on all the significantly aspects of theology and life that are important to the believer.
The first three chapters of Ephesians focused on theology. He showed us what grace was, our desperate need as sinners for that grace, God’s design to use our lives to do His will and the amazing place of the church of God to conduct His will into existence. This is the truth believed, doctrine. Truth enables us to see the world as it really is so that we make all the best decisions based upon it. Faith is based on this truth. If you knew a certain tire was likely have a blowout after 10,000 miles, would you buy such a tire? Most likely not. Your knowledge influences your decisions. Right teaching helps us to rightly understand what is important.
He continues on in the last half of the Book of Ephesians by calling us to appropriate living so that the fullness of His power and design is accomplished through our lives. The Spirit of God actively works through imparting spiritual gifts to His people and building up the church as a whole to complete His glorious will in the saints by His very own power, love and wisdom. Many relevant issues were presented in such a way to remind us how to overcome them through the power of the cross. Without personal triumph over sin, we will not very nicely reflect God’s glory on earth. We can, however, no matter how desperate of a situation that we are in, go on in great hope of His cleansing through His blood, His sanctifying by the power of His Holy Spirit and His work through the call and enabling of God Himself.
Truth must be acted on or faith is not present. When we know of God’s strength and purpose, then we can confidently tackle those issues that hold us back. The truths in the first half complement the action in the last half of Ephesians. We dare not favor one half over the other. Some people turn deaf to the importance of doctrine because they never saw life change in those espousing that teaching. Others despise those who appear to have poor training, either because of the lack of proper theological training or the wrong kind of training (wrong branch of Christianity). Dividing salvation into a saving faith and a lordship faith is folly. Join with me in resisting the trend to non-commitment. Instead let us hold hands as we follow Jesus who committed His life for us.
The Book of Ephesians proclaims many powerful truths: the person of Christ, unity, grace, election, salvation, forgiveness, overcoming, and marriage are mentioned. Each would take a long essay to discuss. Prayer is another theme. We want to close this wonderful study on the Book of Ephesians through a deeper look on this subject of prayer.
Paul did not speak about prayer just this once in Ephesians 6. It is like the other themes which are spread throughout the book and taught in various ways. I am powerfully moved each time I review these teachings. The three main sections are scattered through Ephesians and mentioned in long passages of 4-5 verses in chapters 1, 3 and 6. We can rightly say that Paul emphasized prayer by speaking about it in the beginning, middle and end of the Book of Ephesians. Let’s quickly note the emphases of prayer that we find.
Prayer Cares (Ephesians 1:15-16)
“I ... do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.”
Prayer Helps (Ephesians 1:17-19)
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.”
Prayer Enables (Ephesians 3:14-19)
“I bow my knees ... to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
Prayer Persists (Ephesians 6:18-22)
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”
Prayer is an important part of all that God is doing in this world. Prayer is essentially communing with God. Prayer is a two-way conversation between the great Creator of the universe and our lives. Jesus wants us to view this awesome relationship as God being our Heavenly Father, and we being His faithful children. From Ephesians 6:17 we can see through the very words used about prayer that it prayer is a conversation between man and God. It is a time when we bring our requests before our God. God is assumed to hear and answer such prayers. Otherwise, there is no point of prayer. Secularized Christians (indeed an odd term) no longer believe God is relevant to their lives.
Throughout the Book of Ephesians we see the high place of prayer. There are a number of times where Paul steps away from his conversation with man and begins to commune with God in His prayers. He is not rude or anything of that nature, but instead he encourages us to join him in that lofty pursuit of relishing God’s glorious person and purpose. Let us listen to two of these prayers.
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Ephesians 1:17-19).
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19).
Prayer for the Christian believer is as important and natural as talking to a good friend. Prayer is part of our lives because we are joined with Jesus who sits in the heavenlies. He is in the spiritual realm (the heavenlies) and the only way to relate to Him is through prayer and faith.
God has brought His kingdom to this earth. We reign with Christ now, not just in the future. Few of us, however, understand this precious truth. And even when we do, our perspectives are often askew. We are easily more influenced by what we see on earth.
God’s Word sharpens our spiritual sight while prayer draws us closer into fellowship with God. It is not inappropriate to think of ourselves as the friends of Jesus. He is waiting for us to come before Him so that He can guide, encourage, heal, strengthen, protect and bring grace and truth to the nations. It is not whether it is possible. It is. The issue is whether we will appropriate our inheritance. Joshua (lit. Jesus) handed the inheritances over to the tribes. It was now their (our) responsibility to complete the victory through God’s strength. We are to do it just as Jesus did. Without prayer and dependence upon the Lord, we will waffle in failure and pride like Joshua did at Ai (Joshua 7) and with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9).
Jesus prayed. Paul prayed. Prayer is not some foolish blind religious act that has some unknown effect. No. Prayer is the communion with the mighty God so that His person and will would be done on earth even as in heaven. Prayer is the means we stretch our souls to heaven and bring God’s will into reality here on earth.
If we look closely at the last passage on prayer that we will focus more on in this message in Ephesians 6:18-24, we will note that it is attached to the spiritual armor. Prayer is one of the ways to protect and attack. Prayer stands as a powerful place in our lives. Let us look in more detail at this third passage on prayer in the Book of Ephesians.