|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 52
Meditation Title: Prayer
Eph 6:18-20 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Prayer is the greatest mystery in the Christian experience. Why pray? Why does God want us to pray when He knows every word before we utter it? Does Almighty God limit Himself according to our prayers or lack of prayers? We may have lots of questions and wonderings about prayer, but one thing that these verses tell us is that the apostle Paul totally believed in prayer. We've seen it earlier in this little book – he prays, he believes prayer is an essential part of the Christian experience. So let's see what he says about prayer in these verses that continue on from this whole part that speaks about the body of Christ, the church, about unity, and about spiritual realities.
He starts, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” This is about specific sort of prayer but applied in a variety of situations in a variety of ways. The specific sort of prayer? Prayer “in the Spirit,” or prayer led by the Spirit. Isn't all prayer like this? Obviously not otherwise Paul wouldn't describe it like this. How often do we ask the Lord to inspire and guide us in prayer, I wonder? Or do we just pour out prayers that are self-centred. Spirit-led prayer is first prayer that is submitted to God's will and puts that first. It is prayer that is inspired, that flows out of a flow of the Holy Spirit from within us, and Spirit-led prayer is revelatory prayer that prays with God's understanding. Spirit-led prayer emanates from heaven, is expressed through us, and sees answers. A variety of situations? Yes, because Paul says “on all occasions.” i.e. not just at special times, not just ‘in church' but in a whole variety of places, anywhere you are in life, turn it over to God, seek His will and let Him inspire you to pray. This is a life of prayer, prayer in every areas of life, bringing God into every aspect of life. A variety of ways? Yes, “all kinds of prayers and requests.” I'm not sure what this means but at least it means that there is not just one way of praying. Prayer as you feel inspired in whatever way it comes!
But then he says something quite significant that links this in with the context we have referred to already: “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” This is about the body. “All the saints” are all the believers you know. See your praying as resourcing other people, being a channel through which God's blessing can flow to other people as you pray. Ask the Lord to show you the needs of other people and also what He wants to do for them, and then pray it. I first saw this with Isaiah. He caught what God's will was, and then prayed it. Well surely, if you know what God's will is, what is the point of praying? Surely God will just bring it into being? That is how some people might respond to this. Well no, God seems to delight in involving His children in His activities, in helping them to come to understand His will and then in praying for it and perhaps even, sometimes, being the answer to it. He delights in making it a “God and us” thing. Our part is Spirit-led prayer. I wonder if the church is sometimes so weak because so many of His children don't understand this and don't pray?
He continues: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” This is amazing. This is the great apostle Paul acknowledging that he needs God's resourcing and that he's aware that that resourcing is enabled by the prayers of other people. I don't know how many times over the years I've heard a testimony that says, “The situation just seemed impossible and then suddenly there was breakthrough and I later learnt that there had been people praying for me.” Coincidence? As a friend used to say, well all I know is that when I stop praying the coincidences stop happening. Within our own church I use a small band of faithful praying people with whom from time to time I share things confidentially and I know that that testimony above is true. I was without energy, or a situation seemed impossible and then something changed; energy flowed, wisdom was given, circumstances changed, and I later found out it was as the people had prayed. It's a mystery but it's a mystery that works! You need resourcing? Pray! You want a stronger, more united church? Pray!