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.
Prayer has somehow always been a part of my faith journey. Even before I became a Christian, I remember praying to Jesus—drawn to a desire to talk to the God who also longed to speak to me and be heard. Although so much about it still baffles me and catches me off guard on many, many occasions, my inability to grasp all there is to grasp about prayer does not diminish my confidence in its power. Instead, it solidifies it. It’s too profound for my human mind to fully comprehend, yet it leaves traces of its power and authority for me to know that it works.
I am convinced, without a hint of doubt, that prayer is effective. I have witnessed its strength manifest in my life. I have seen it pull unlikely people together and move them towards Jesus. Most importantly, I am convinced that prayer is effective because Jesus prayed.
Jesus prayed. Not only that, He was intentional in His practice of it.
Because of this, we have to assume prayer is extremely essential to our faith walk to live like He did. And, ultimately, that’s the goal: to live like Jesus did. So I want to share with you a few insights on prayer I drew out of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the hopes of prompting you and I to begin to exercise these in our own prayer lives.
- Be praying always. (Ephesians 6:18, praying always…)
Prayer should be so much a part of the way we live; we breathe it. Many of us lack consistency, intentionality, and passion in prayer. At times, we end up only praying at meals or when we’re about to embark on a brand new journey or for guidance on a decision or for help in time of need. All these are good opportunities to pray, but I think we lose so much of who we could become and the depth of intimacy we could experience in our relationships with Jesus when we reduce prayer as something we do only on sporadic moments, even on significant junctures of our lives.
We should be talking to the One we call our God at all times, in all seasons of our lives, about anything and everything in between. We cannot expect to live in victory if we neglect to nurture our relationship with Him, who loves us like no other, through an ongoing conversation.
Our God is strong and big and loving and gentle and wise. He can carry us through no matter what, so don’t ever stop talking to Him.
- Pray in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18 …in the Spirit)
Submit to the Spirit’s movement. Pray in submission to His desires and what He wants to do. To pray in the Spirit is to fully welcome His authority and sovereignty and to let Him do the maneuvering. Resolve in ourselves to obey Him even before He reveals His heart for us.
This is probably the hardest aspect in our relationships with God. We all have our own propositions on how to run our lives. It’s difficult for us to yield to God’s authority; nonetheless, I think we can all agree that our way usually takes us to a web of mess that most of the time we don’t even know how we arrived there. It is time we let go of the handle and to let Him take us to a better adventure.
- Be watchful. (Ephesians 6:18 …being watchful)
Be on the lookout, and do not be surprised when fiery arrows from the enemy start darting our way. We know it’s coming. We should be ready for it. How? Pray daily. Pray consistently. Pray always. Pray against the enemy. Be quick to repent from our sins. Be honest to God and specific about what we are struggling with or our weaknesses. Speak them out to Him. Do not let the enemy gain a foothold in our lives, not even in our thoughts.
Ask the Holy Spirit to let His power rise up within us and to fight for us and against our own lustful desires. Genuinely desire for Him to take over. We cannot stay asleep or complacent when the enemy is just waiting for the perfect opportunity to devour us to pieces. We must never, ever, let our guards down.
- Persevere in prayer. (Ephesians 6:18 …with all perseverance)
Google defines to persevere as to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. This very definition should be our overall attitude towards prayer: do not ever stop.
Be discouraged, but don’t stop praying. Be sad and angry, but don’t stop praying. Be weak, but don’t stop praying. Our God is strong and big and loving and gentle and wise. He can carry us through no matter what, so don’t ever stop talking to Him. Tell Him all that you are going through—the sorrow, the loneliness, the grief, the joy, the love, the gratitude. Be completely vulnerable. Do not hide anything. He can handle whatever it may be that you throw at Him. He is God.
- Pray for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18 …for all the saints)
We should regularly lift up our voices and pray for all the believers. In my early days as a Christian, I learned from other men and women of God about how they make a written list of people they pray for on a scheduled time, whether daily or weekly. They were intentional and consistent in this practice.
A life lived on mission for the Gospel is His heart for all of us.
They pray to God for believers by name. They pray for their pastors, their worship leaders, their church ministers, their missionaries, their brothers and sisters in the faith. They pray for believers they don’t know. They pray nonstop. I urge you to do the same. I truly believe that we can fight the enemy together through prayer.
- Pray for all kinds of requests, but most importantly pray that we may open our mouths boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. To speak boldly as we ought to speak even in the midst of being chained for doing what is righteous and good. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
Notice that in Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul, who at the time of writing this epistle was under house arrest guarded by Roman soldiers, did not pray for safety or for freedom from his imprisonment or for provisions. Instead, he asked for boldness to speak about Jesus. He was so consumed about the Gospel’s spread and for people to know Jesus, his prayer request for himself went beyond his well-being.
I pray that Paul’s prayer be our prayer as well. I pray for you and for me to be so Gospel-centered, so Jesus-addicted, so fearless and single-minded for the cause of Christ, that even in the face of strong opposition or at the cost of our own reputations, our own lives, wherever we may be or no matter what call of life we are on: we declare Jesus.
It’s a dangerous prayer, but I believe it’s the kind of prayer that we should all be asking God. Because a life lived on mission for the Gospel is His heart for all of us. This I know without a doubt: If you pray this prayer, He will answer you with a ready “yes.”