Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Today's post aims to answer the simple question: "why pray?". The command to pray in Ephesians 6:18-20 occurs on the heals of Paul's extensive treatment of the spiritual armor and the need to fight the good fight of faith. As Paul prepares to close out his Epistle to the Ephesians, his final set of commands will deal with prayer and the need of it. In short order we will propose three reasons why we need to pray from Ephesians 6:18-20.
We need to pray because of alertness
Ephesians 6:18a notes - "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert....". The Christian walk can often be characterized as a slumber moreso than a consistent attendance to the priorities of the Kingdom. Prayer for the Christian life is like oxygen to the lungs - without it we suffocate and lag behind. When we read in the accounts of Jesus and his disciples in the Garden of Gethesemane in Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38, His appeal to them is to "watch and pray". Alertness in the Christian life is held to such a high premium that it is plainly comanded of every Christian in Ephesians 5:14-17. Jesus Himself is portrayed at the beginning of his ministry literally waking up early in the morning to pray. (Mark 1:35) Spiritual alertness is an impossibility without prayer. Notice a second reason why we need to pray...
We need to pray because of God's power
Ephesians 6:18-19 continues with these words - "with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel....". Churches and individual Christian lives seem to be characterized more by activity than God's power. Prayer is the open window inviting the Spirit of God to blow His fresh Divine power on our otherwise weak and anemic human efforts. Jesus told his disciples not to fear, since the Spirit would grant them the words to say at just the right moment. (Matthew 10:19) No preaching of the word nor understanding of it can happen apart from the power of God's grace available to do either. (Psalm 119:27) When Jesus stood at Lazarus' tomb in John 11, He intentionally prayer aloud for the sake of those nearby to demonstrate the fact that He was relying on the power of His Heavenly Father and the Person of the Spirit to raise Lazarus from the dead. Prayer is needed because of the need for God's power. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 reminds us that the preaching and teaching of God's Word is effective insofar as it is accompanied by the Spirit's power. Lest the people of God and the preacher are devoted to prayer, no power from on high will be experienced. Jesus even instructed the early church to wait on the Spirit until He empowered them to do their missionary work. (Acts 1:8) The early disciples went into an upstairs room and prayed for ten days until the Spirit came and empowered them. We must pray if we ever expect to see God's power in our lives, as well as for the sake of alertness. Now notice a final reason to pray....
We need to pray because we need boldness
We read in Ephesians 6:19b-20 - "to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Without prayer, Christians can be lethargic, powerless and timid people. Is it any wonder why churches and Christians today are timid, not wanting to take or stand or stand for what is right? Could it be because of prayerlessness in both the pew and the pulpit? Again we see in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus praying three times to the Father, and meanwhile the disciples fast asleep nearby. Colossians 1:3-6 records these words - "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth." Wherever we see boldness in the people of God, prayer before and after is always present. In regards to the spiritual armor, prayer functions like the direct orders from the commanding officer. A soldier may very well have the weapons and armor he needs to fight the battle. However, if the soldier has no direction nor rapport with his commanding officer, his conflict will end in defeat. In prayer, I am yielding my will and allegiance to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit inside of the Christian is the 1st Officer, with Jesus Christ as the Captain and Lord of the soul. When we fail to pray, we plan to fail. We need prayer because of the need for alertness, the need for God's power and the need for boldness in this 21st century world.