Talk given at Poole High School for Poole Christian Fellowship on 3 November 2017.
Reference: Ephesians 6 v 18-20
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We have been looking at the spiritual warfare that the church is engaged in, and now we come to the ultimate way in which the church engages in, and wins ,spiritual warfare.
The context of the warfare is that Jesus has won a victory against God’s enemies. We stand in a place of certain victory and are under constant attack to rob us of that victory. We heard last week how we are to wear and use all the armour that God has given us, the picture of the Roman solider going into battle. Now we come the greatest weapon that God has given us to enforce the victory of Calvary – prayer.
The ultimate military weapon is the nuclear bomb – a weapon of such terrifying power and devastation that whoever has the weapon has the potential for world domination. Hence, the preoccupation with preventing certain powers from possessing the bomb, and to ensure that those who have it will never use it. We do everything we can to prevent those who may be our enemies from possessing and using such devastating weapons. In thew saem way, Satan will do everything he can to ensure that the church does not use the weapon that activates the victory that God has won. Put simply, if Satan can stop the church praying he can go on doing his business in the church and in the world. The church that prays, though, sees Satan pushed back. The church that sees God’s kingdom come will be a praying church.
So what does God, through Paul, have to say to us here?
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 Lords people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, 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.
1. How Do I Pray?
Paul tells us to pray “in the Spirit”. Although this can sound a bit mystical, what us being said here is an encouragement. For the Christian, when we come to God in prayer, we have the Spirit who helps us in our weakness. We often feel we don’t know what to pray or how to pray – we are quite right! Yet the Spirit, who lives inside every Christian, helps us in our weakness, in our tiredness and in our inability. So this is an encouragement. People of all faiths and of none pray. There are few atheists in burning building, or on ships that are sinking. But the believer prays “in the Spirit”. We have the Holy Spirit who translates our feeble attempts into something that God hears and responds to.
2. When Do I Pray?
The answer is “on all occasions”, and Paul also says “Always…keep on”. Every moment, every situation, is an opportunity to express our dependence on God. It is good and right to have a specific time to pray, but the fact is that there is never a time to not pray.
As John Piper says:” Is it true that prayer is a duty? You can call it that. It’s a duty the way it’s the duty of a scuba diver to put on his air tank before he goes under water. It’s a duty the way pilots listen to air traffic controllers. It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat clean their guns. It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food. It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water.”
3. What Do I Pray?
We are told to pray with all kinds of prayers and requests. There is nothing too small and nothing too insignificant to bring to God. I find that at the start of the day to simply pray through everything that I am expecting to be doing that day, praying for those I expect to come into contact with, and for His help with everything I am doing. Paul then gives an example of how we can pray for other Christians. It is challenging that Paul, chained up in a filthy Roman prison, was more concerned with being effective in the situation he was in, than with being rescued out of that situation. He was not saying “I’m an apostle…get me out of here” – but rather – God’s put me here “Pray for me to be effective”
4. Who Do I Pray for?
“…for all God’s people”
The best thing that we can do to help each other is to support one another in prayer. We come to God daily on behalf of other Christians to ask Him to help them in the battle that we are all in. We have a wonderful tool – “ChurchSuite” that has all the information we need on everyone in the church. We have a great tool “Prayer by Text” to enable us to pray for each other. Let’s use them both.
So…how do we apply this?
We have seen throughout this series in Ephesians that everything in this letter is written , not to an individual, but to a church. This encouragement to pray comes not only to individuals, but also to a church. Let’s ask God to help us become a praying church