Reviewing our series: Ephesians 6:10-13 spoke of our adversary and our conflict. 6:14-17 of the armor we must wear. We conclude with one final section: 6:18-20 where Paul speaks of the need for continual prayer.
[Eph 6:18-20 NKJV] 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-- 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Since the armor God provides depends upon our intimacy with Him and His Word, so prayer will help us maintain our nearness with our God as we face spiritual battles each day. Though not a specific piece of armor, prayer is the oil that keeps each piece of armor working smoothly.
In this lesson we will focus on prayer in terms of the context of these verses that follow the armor. Prayer is mentioned in the same sentence as the last two pieces of armor. Back in verse 10 of this chapter, Paul is talking about our need to be strong in the Lord, and have His power and put on the armor that He provides. If the armor of God is put on by faith, it is kept on by prayer.
Prayer maintains the constant fellowship that we have with God. The armor could quickly be reduced to truths in your head that are not experienced in your heart. That does not give you much strength. Prayer is to our spiritual lives what air is to your physical body. To not pray is like spiritual suicide; it cuts you off from God and keeps you from what He wants to do in your life.
1. [Eph 6:18 NKJV] 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints
Notice Paul uses the word all three times in this one sentence, as well as the word always. He could not stress enough the need for all of us to be praying and seeking the Lord - using all prayer necessary, praying for all the saints, using all your perseverant heart, especially as it relates to warfare, and having victory with the Lord.
Something you discover about the Jews in the Old Testament is that there were certain times set aside each day for prayer. The early church followed this for some time before prayer became an individual responsibility. Yet the early saints quickly learned how vital prayer was to their lives.
2. Thirty years after Paul was saved he wrote to the Philippians about fear and worry. [Phl 4:6 NKJV] 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
3. Paul stresses how often to pray. [1Th 5:17 NKJV] 17 pray without ceasing,
4. In Acts 10, Cornelius was not saved yet, but he was crying out to know God. What does verse 2 tell us he did? [Act 10:2 NKJV] 2 a devout [man] and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
The early church spent much time in prayer, even if at times they were not at all expecting to see God answer them. (Acts 12:5, 12-16). Prayer should hold a prominent place in your life. It is a great privilege you get when you become saved; you get to come into the presence of God. We have access where other people cannot go. Because of Jesus, you can get in and talk to the Father.
[Act 12:5, 12-16 NKJV] 5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. ... 12 So, when he had considered [this], he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter's voice, because of [her] gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel." 16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened [the door] and saw him, they were astonished.
5. What does God say He will do in Jeremiah 33:3? _________________________
[Jer 33:3 NKJV] 3 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'
6. Jesus, on more that one occasion in the gospels, stayed up all night to pray. That kind of determined effort tells us Jesus was convinced prayer had value, that God is listening, and that prayer makes a difference. What would it take for you to stay up all night and pray? Or even an hour or two?
7. That kind of prayer would require real victory over our flesh. For some of us, it is easy to talk to our friends all day, but to talk to God for an hour can be ________________
Because prayer is defined as communication with God, Paul calls us to pray always. This kind of prayer is not simply folding our hands or bowing our heads but rather living in an awareness of His presence with us. Practicing the presence of God and having Him be involved at each turn is a necessary biblical pursuit (Colossians 4:2).
[Col 4:2 NKJV] 2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
God desires fellowship with us; He made us and saved us for that very reason. Fellowship that is daily, not sporadic or relegated to the emergency call only type of relationship. Prayer requires steadfastness, perseverance, and a conviction as to its value and importance.
Jesus teaches that concept to us in several places in the gospel, two of which are most revealing: Luke 11:5-13, Luke 18:1-8. Both parables have the same method of teaching us the heart of God and His willingness to hear and respond to our prayers; by setting Him in contrast with wicked, self-serving men who would only help someone if in the end it helps themselves more.
Friend in need
[Luk 11:5-13 NKJV] 5 And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 'for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 "and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? 8 "I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. 9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if [he asks] for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Persistent widow and crooked judge
[Luk 18:1-8 NKJV] 1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 "Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' 4 "And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 'yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' " 6 Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
Constant prayer to God produces great results, because God longs to respond, and it is a lack of prayer that keeps us from what God would want us to have. Prayer is always used by God to accomplish His purpose in life. It is not used to inform Him; He already knows. It's not used to persuade Him; He has already decided. It is used to bring you to a place of surrender, that you might look for His answers: yes, no, wait. Whatever it is, it bows you before God. Persistence in prayer is always for our benefit as we learn to wait upon God, overcome the temptation to handle it ourselves in the flesh and forcing us to stay close to Him constantly as we wait for Him to work.
Prayer is not a place for you to make your case or inform God of the situation but rather is a place where we learn to let God work and rest in His care. That is especially true as we put on the armor and stand for the battle. If there is a delay, don't come to the conclusion you need to pray louder or knock harder or somehow make a deal i.e. "I'll do more tithing if you do more blessing". Instead, realize it is not your persistence that gets His hand to move, it is His heart for you. Your prayers should be persistent, just not for the reason you think. The Bible says He knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:8). God will answer in His time.
[Mat 6:8 NKJV] 8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
True prayer stands in stark contrast to all the ritual and liturgy of man. We seek God according to what we know and have learned of Him (1 John 5:14-15), balanced with His glorious promise (John 14:13-15) and helped in seeking Him by His Spirit who dwells within us (Romans 8:26-27).
[1Jo 5:14-15 NKJV] 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
[Jhn 14:13-15 NKJV] 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do [it]. 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
[Rom 8:26-27 NKJV] 26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit [is], because He makes intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God.
The devil accomplishes much when he isolates us in our difficulties and is quickly turned back as we stand together seeking God, equipped with His armor (1 Corinthians 10:13, 12:25-26, Romans 14:7, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
[1Co 10:13 NKJV] 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it].
[1Co 12:25-26 NKJV] 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but [that] the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with [it]; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with [it].
[Rom 14:7 NKJV] 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
[2Co 1:8-11 NKJV] 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver [us], 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift [granted] to us through many.
Go back to Ephesians 6:18 praying always is a frequency word. Then there is the word supplication; this means to pray with need with an exactness of petition. With all prayer, you come constantly to God. You should pray always in the Spirit or led by the Spirit. Do not settle for canned prayer or vain prayer; pray in the Spirit.
Conclusions show us we spend 90% of our time praying for ourselves and 10% praying for others. Yet, the minute you begin to see the power in prayer and apply it into the lives of others you lose the subjection view of life that probably controls you; "my life, my needs, my wants, my fears, my difficulties". It's then that we begin to see that God can use us to make a difference by praying for others.
8. What was Epaphras known for in Colossians 4:12-13? _______________________
[Col 4:12-13 NKJV] 12 Epaphras, who is [one] of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.
Paul said in Romans chapter 14 we don't live for ourselves and we don't die for ourselves. God wants us to pray for each other. In Ephesians 6:19-24 Paul's request was that they might intercede for him in the place of ministry God had placed him. Paul's prayer was that he would be bold.
9. Prayer is the most powerful ministry you can participate in. How has this lesson affected your view of prayer? _________________________
10. How has this study on the armor of God changed the way you look at your everyday life? __________________________