Ephesians 6:18 – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,…
Although Paul concluded describing the armor of God in Ephesians 6:17, he was not finished discussing what makes a well-equipped Christian. Two principles were added after he had finished discussing the various pieces of armor. These principles accentuate the armor. The safety of a soldier is determined by more than just the armor he is wearing. There are actions that he must take after he has put on that armor. The same is true for the Christian. As born-again believers, we must follow these instructions and consider them a part of our orders so that we can be safe in battle. The first of these two principles deals with prayer. Starting in verse 18 of Ephesians 6, Paul gave four principles regarding prayer.
The Christian is to pray always.
Imagine a soldier in the midst of the battle. He is well-equipped for the battle. He has his helmet, his uniform, and his weapons. He knows he is fighting for a cause as well as for his own life. I can only imagine the constant prayers he is praying as he fights. If he believes in God; and, in some cases, even if he does not, he is asking God continually to protect him. In other words, he is praying without ceasing.
When we pray always, we are admitting our reliance upon our God. Paul made it very clear that the Christian needs to be fully equipped to battle against the enemy. He discussed each piece of armor that the Christian must wear; yet, there are some who put on armor that is not regulation. Their armor is not complete. Their lack of prayer gives evidence that they are not properly equipped. Their armor is merely a façade. Prayer proves that the Christian’s armor is genuine and of God. That is why Satan fights prayer in the lives of Christians. He knows that we will take off the armor and replace it with superficial armor if we are prayerless.
In context with Ephesians 6:11-17, we are better able to understand what it means to pray without ceasing. Knowing that we are fighting for a cause and are in the fight of our lives ought to put us in a constant state of prayer. The Christian who puts on the armor understanding the seriousness of the battle will be one who is constantly praying. There are five types of constant prayer.
Always prayer: Christians should never do anything without first praying. We should pray about everything, pray for everything, and pray during everything. Christians need God all the time, not just some of the time.
Instant in prayer: Romans 12:12 describes the Christian with the following words: Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; The phrase, instant in prayer means that in every situation, the Christian should be quick to pray before moving forward. Prayer must become a habit of life. When we face any situation, we need to address it instantly with prayer.
Endless prayer: I Thessalonians 5:16-18 commands the Christian to do the following: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. How can a Christian pray without ceasing? I will use myself as an illustration. Though I am not always talking to my wife, there is always a communication open between us. The same is true with the believer and God. We may not be praying always, but our communication is always open with Him. Even as we are performing the tasks of our day, we do so prayerfully. We do nothing without praying before, during, and after. Eventually, we sense God’s presence in everything we do to such a degree that we are always communicating with Him. That is how a Christian’s prayer life should be.
Everything prayer: Philippians 4:6 gives the following admonition: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. The Christian should be praying for everything instead of worrying. The moment we begin to fear or fret, we should pray. Pray about everything, and worry about nothing.
Continued prayer: Colossians 4:2 instructs the Christian as follows: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; We should never give in to the temptation to quit praying. Once we have started praying about a matter, we must not stop praying midstream. We must fight to continue in prayer through every situation we face every day.
The Christian is to be praying always with “all prayer.”
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
The word pray means “to ask.” The primary purpose of prayer is asking. Prayer is not simply fellowshipping with God. By asking God for things, we enjoy fellowship with God. There are many aspects of prayer, but all revolve around this matter of asking. Some downplay the idea of asking as though it were a child-like act. The truth is that prayer is a child-like process. As born-again believers, we are God’s children, and we need Him. Just as a child asks a parent for things, believing the parent will provide, we ask believing God will provide. Asking is not selfish. When we ask, we are presuming that God is in control. In essence, we are spiritual beggars. There are other types of prayer involved in asking. Asking, however, is the ultimate reason we pray.
“All prayer” includes supplication. Supplication is asking and asking and asking and asking until either God answers or removes the desire.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. (Acts 1:14)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)
“All prayer” includes fasting. In Mark 9:29, Jesus told His disciples how important fasting was for some occasions of prayer: …This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
How badly do we want something from God? Fasting is a way we prove to God the seriousness of our prayers. Every Christian should have seasons of fasting and praying. Sometimes, we think of fasting as being only for the power of God or for revival. While those things are important, there are other times fasting is needed. Knowing that we are in a constant battle should encourage us to be consistent in having times of fasting and praying.
“All prayer” includes thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6 instructs us, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. When we come to God asking for something, we should be thankful to God for the fact that He has answered prayers in the past. Giving thanks is an essential part of prayer. If a child went to a parent only to ask and never to give thanks, I believe a parent would be less likely to grant the child’s requests. We are to give thanks in everything. When we pray for strength for battle, we should thank God that He is our strength. Christian, thank God before He answers, while He is answering, and after He has answered.
“All prayer” includes importunity. It has been mentioned that we are to continue in prayer, which is importunity. Luke 11:8 gives an example of importunity in prayer. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. The word importunity comes from the word important. Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines the word as “Pressing solicitation; urgent request; application for a claim or favor, which is urged with troublesome frequency or pertinacity.” If something is important, we will keep asking. We keep coming and asking. We come back and ask again. We keep coming back and keep asking until our prayers are answered. Most of us pray a couple of times at most about things. We should be begging God constantly for the things we truly want and need. One of those things is strength for the battles we face.
The Christian is to be praying always with “all prayer and supplication.”
Supplication is part of preparing for battle. Before a battle, a soldier knows that he will be facing a formidable foe the next day. Before he closes his eyes to sleep, he begs God to protect him. He pleads in prayer for God’s protection. That act is supplication. When we are aware of the power of our enemy, it causes us to beg God for His strength and power. More Christians need to beg. If we begged God for His strength, we would be defeated much less often. We lose too many battles because we do not beg God to give us strength and to give us the victory.
Supplication includes seasons of prayer. During these extended times of prayer, we plead with God for the things that we need. Every Christian needs God to give him victory. We face a spiritual foe, and we must have God to deliver us.
The Christian is to be praying always with “all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
Many Christians misunderstand the phrase “praying in the spirit.” Taken out of its context, many have made praying this way some type of “second blessing” praying. It is not some type of feeling. Praying in the Spirit is relying upon the Holy Spirit within us to help us as we pray. It is focusing on the Spirit of God rather than on the words we are praying. It is letting God’s Spirit lead us in our prayers. Many people pray fancy prayers that never get answered because they are not praying in the Spirit. If Christians are not praying in the Spirit, they must be praying in the flesh.
Remember, Christians, our battle is not a fleshly one. We are fighting a spiritual foe. We can take heart in knowing that greater is He Who is within us than he that is in the world. The Holy Spirit within us has greater power than the enemies without. We must pray in the Spirit so that our prayers are of the Spirit rather than of the flesh. The reason some people struggle to pray is that they do not know what to pray. When they pray, they are praying in the flesh. That leaves them lacking in what to pray. When we pray in the Spirit, we are led by the Spirit to pray for the things we ought to pray.
Prayer is difficult for some people because they are doing it in the flesh. Everything we do in the flesh is a struggle. When we stop praying in the flesh, prayer becomes easier because we are being led by the Spirit rather than attempting to pray in our flesh. We come before God asking for His Spirit to lead us as we pray. Sometimes we do not even know what to pray, so the Spirit intercedes for us. Being in the Spirit leads us to pray for things that we would not have known we should pray for otherwise.
There are times when we can pray without words. The Holy Spirit knows that we are praying in Him; therefore, He prays on our behalf. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us. When the Spirit within us makes known our requests to the Son, He intercedes to the Father. That is how we enjoy power in prayer.
One important benefit of praying in the Spirit is that we avail ourselves of God’s help in areas where we are weak. We are told that the Spirit helps with our infirmities. An infirmity is weakness or a fault within us. Praying in the Spirit brings the Holy Spirit alongside us in our battles to give us strength where we otherwise would be weak. People are often overtaken in a fault because they have not prayed in the Spirit while wearing the whole armor of God.
Just as we consciously take on the armor of God, we must take on this matter of Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,… It must be a conscious decision that we make, knowing that we are in spiritual warfare. We have the means by which we can win our battles, but we must make a choice to avail ourselves of them.
Just as prayer without the armor is futile, so is the armor without prayer.
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.