Armored Prayer

Ephesians 6: 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.

This week and last we looked at the armor of God as listed in Ephesians 6: 10 – 17. I thought you might be curious to know that upon concluding his list of the armor the very next words Paul wrote were encouragement for us to pray at all times. Could it be that the two thoughts are connected? I believe they are.

First, we are instructed to put on the armor of God, but having donned the armor Paul teaches us to enter into prayer as if the two are related. If you are in spiritual warfare, prayer is probably well advised. Paul says to pray at all times IN the Spirit. What does that mean to you? There would seem to be an insinuation that we connect with the Holy Spirit in this prayer. This prescribed prayer is not a barrage of words from our minds leveled at the gates of heaven. No, there is something entirely different going on here. Remember that Paul’s letter was advice as to how to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6: 11). Paul is continuing to teach how to overcome the devil’s attacks. So, when the devil attempts to bring trouble into our lives, we are advised to first put on the armor of God and then secondly, to open up the prayer chest and begin to pour out Holy Spirit inspired prayers.

When we pray with the Spirit, he gives direction to our prayers. This becomes much more than only praying our thoughts. We connect with God, since the Holy Spirit is part of the triune God head. Hence we pray to God through God. As we allow the Spirit to guide our prayers, we pray exactly what God knows we need to pray. The Spirit gives voice to our prayers so that we pray as we should. Isn’t that exciting?

Paul doesn’t even stop there, though. “While you are praying,” he says, “be on the alert.” Isn’t that what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5: 8, “Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour” (NOG). Paul doesn’t end this thought there though. He goes on to entreat us to pray with perseverance for all the saints. You see, the person whom the devil finds who can be devoured probably isn’t you because you have on your armor and are standing firm. Therefore, prayers should be made for all the saints. Satan is on the hunt for some unsuspecting, vulnerable person who he can take advantage of. We have the power and the authority to pray for all those who may be vulnerable to attack.

This is so typical of how God sees the world. First, He meets our needs. Then, with our new found truth and growth, He employs us to help others. As those people learn and mature in spiritual matters, they reach yet more people. When we all do our little part, the multiplication process can, quite literally, reach around the globe. So, it begins with our realizing truth in our own battles against the powers and principalities of this world. As we increasingly attire ourselves in Jesus’ victory, we stand firm in his word praying for others. That is the paradigm, get free and then help someone else to get free. The Holy Spirit is here to guide our steps and our prayers. Let’s put on our armor and get down to business.

Trust Me

Isaiah 26: 3                 NIV

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Father God will keep your mind in perfect peace. How does that sound? Imagine, no matter how much stress or turmoil is going on around you, your mind will be abiding in perfect peace. But wait a minute, does that describe you and every other Christian you know? Are we all perfectly peaceful? No. This promise comes with a condition. God will give us perfect peace when we trust in Him. So, to state it a bit differently, “For those who trust in you, Father, you will keep their minds in perfect peace.”

There are a lot of verses which encourage us to trust our Father. The most well-known is probably Proverb 3: 5 – 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” That is such an inspiring verse that you would expect us all to make a Herculean effort to put all of our trust in God. So why don’t we?

We have learned too much from the world and we just hold on too tightly. It is hard to let go of the things about which we have concerns. However, we can begin by acknowledging Him in everything and that will help us to move into deeper trust. That means that we include Him in everything we do. You know, the Bible says that we are to pray at all times (Ephesians 6: 18). Praying all of the time makes perfect sense if you are going to acknowledge Him in everything you do. Of course, prayer has to get real if you are going to do this. If you think and expect prayer to be amazingly eloquent and formal, you are never going to make it. Prayer is just talking with your Father. When you make it an ongoing conversation, as if you are talking with a friend who is going to accompany you all day, then it becomes really easy to pray at all times. There is another verse which says to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). How are you going to do that if you ritualize prayer? The answer is that you are not. This relationship with the Father needs to get out of church and into your life.

Another big factor is just lack of experience. Once you begin giving Dad your trust it becomes easier to do it next time. A friend of mine just sold a house. She had written down exactly what she wanted and expected in a buyer. Well, there were two contracts which fell through. What? This had been prayed over. Here is where trust comes in. She never lost her peace, never left the facts dissuade her from what she believed God was going to do. She placed her trust in the Father and He kept her in a constant state of peace and her mind tranquil. Do you want to know the end of the story? Yep, the house sold for the full asking price and everything else she asked for when she wrote down what she wanted also came through. Her trust and faith had been built by years of trusting God with small things and then bigger things. How much easier do you think it will be for her to trust Him next time? Nothing breeds success like success.

Trust me in this as I attempt to entice you into trusting the Father. I am being honest with you. The Father can keep you in perfect peace but first you must let go. You’ve got to give Him the reins and expect, and trust, that He is going to come through for you.

Eternal Prayer

Ephesians 6: 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.

We, the church, need to become people of prayer. It seems that almost every day there is some tragic bit of news. People are struggling with flooding, mud slides, wildfires and every sort of disaster. I have noticed that when we hear bad news on the TV we are moved by compassion and feel sorrow for people going through rough times. The hearts of many people are truly compassionate and caring. The outpouring for Katrina victims was an example of the good heart in the American people.

And while we can be very generous and kind, there is one thing we can do that will really help all people. We can learn to pray. Now that may sound like drivel or may sound cliché but I find that we do not pray as we might. So many times we have built prayer up in our minds until it has become a Holy Ritual instead of an intimate communication. There is nothing wrong with reverence and holiness in prayer but we also need to have more routine communication with God. I think many times we tell people we will pray for them and we have the very best intentions but then we wait until we can get in our prayer closet or wait for our prayer time. By then we forget who we promised prayer.

As we are drawing close to God and becoming really intimate with him, he becomes not only our God but our best friend. During that process it becomes easier and easier to talk with Him all through the day. This is the kind of prayer that Paul encourages us to in this passage of scripture. We can become so attuned to living a prayer full life that when we see some catastrophe on the news, we immediately say a prayer for the people affected. When you talk with someone on the phone and tell them you will pray for them, you either pray for them right then and there while they are still on the phone with you or you pray as soon as you hang up. We need time alone with God when we are in a very prayerful state but we cannot wait until then for all the prayer that needs to be sent up to heaven. There is too much need. Begin training yourself to pray whenever you perceive a need. The body of Christ needs you and your prayers. The world really needs you.