Saturday, November 12, 2016

With all prayer and petition - Ephesians 6:18-20

"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, 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, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." (Ephesians 6:18-20
We are to be constant in prayers and petitions. Many of us know this, but few of us do this. Moreover, how does one pray at all times and with all prayers in our busy and jammed pack lives? The key is in understanding what Paul means by "all times". The Greek word used here for "time" does not mean the sequential passing of seconds, minutes, hours, and days but refers to discrete moments or opportunities in time. Darby translates this verse as, "praying at all seasons, with all prayer and supplication in [the] Spirit." (Ephesians 6:18 Darby) God is not asking us to fill every waking moment of the day with prayer, rather, when opportunities arise or when the situation requires it, to be ready and prompt to pray. Each opportunity we face, each decision we must make, and each movement of testing that comes our way are to be filled with our prayers and supplication,

Paul speaks of "all" as in "all prayer and petition" he means to indicate that there are various forms of our relationship with God of which prayer and petition are but two. Paul is encouraging us to use all forms of voicing our needs and concerns to God, be they asking, begging, or something else. Prayer is not to be rote or simply a static discipline we have with the Father. Payer should be dynamic and applicable to the need at hand. All forms of communing with the Father are to be pursued as needed. In fact, the Greek word for "prayer" can also imply "worship". Worship is a powerful force with God for it says, "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written; this is an honor for all His godly ones." (Psalms 149:6-9) Worship can be a powerful weapon in our time of need. Furthermore, we must elicit the help of the Holy Spirit, praying in the Spirit, for it is the Spirit who "intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26) In our time of need we have not been left alone but have the agency and help of the Holy Spirit within us who not only enables us to pray but also prays for us as well.

When Paul says, "with this in view," he is speaking of our need to prayerful in all seasons and in every occasion. Another translation would be, "With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18 NIV) Knowing our need for prayer, we must always be on the alert, ready to pray, and praying with all perseverance. The Greek word for "alert" means both to watch and to keep awake. The opposite of sleeping is not being awake but watching. Remember what Jesus asked his disciples when He found them sleeping while He was praying, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:37-38) Those who are asleep have no idea of what is going on around them nor the battle that is raging against them. We must be people who are awake and who are watching in prayer that we might see the reality around us and perceive the things that require our "all prayers and petitions." This take a decisive action to watch and a perseverance in prayer. Those who slumber will not do this but those who are awake will not be caught off guard. Some of us need to hear the works of Jesus when He said, "Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die." (Revelation 3:2) Now is not the time for sleeping.

Our prayers are not only to be for us but for all who are seeking to live Godly in Christ. We are in this together and we need each other. We all need the encouragement, love, and support of each other. We need, not only our prayers, but the prayers of others on our behalf. Praying for each other helps to divert our focus from ourselves and helps us to grow in relationships with our brothers and sisters. Far too often, instead of praying, we judge. I remember one time I was staying with a couple and saw their family situation and thought, "What a mess!" That night, as I lay in bed, God spoke to me and said, "If you loved them you would pray for them." I was convicted that, while I was good at judging other people, I was not very good at praying for them. We all go through difficult times. We all have issues and areas in our lives that still need the sanctifying power of God to cleanse us. However, what we don't need is the judgment of others. What we do need is their prayers. Let us be people who not only pray for ourselves and then judge others, but people who love and pray for all.

Finally, Paul asks for prayers for himself. However, instead of asking that his chains be removed, he asks that he might have the strength in God to fulfill the mission God had called him to. In praying for our needs and wants, we must not forget to pray for the things God wants. What is it that God wants in the Earth? What is it that God wants in our lives? These are the things we too should be praying and supplicating God for. We must pray, not only in the will of God, but for the will of God. Jesus taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven;" (Matthew 6:10) not our will or kingdom but God's will and kingdom. We must learn to pray outside of ourselves; for our brethren and also for what God wills. This is the kind of prayer that delights God and that moves mountains.

David Robison

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