Prayer and the Spirit Part 5

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Text: Eph. 6:18-20

Introduction: Praying in the Spirit for the Spirit

  • In our text today, Paul calls us to Action—PRAY!

Explore the Text

Why are We to Pray? Because Jesus Rescued Us & is Uses Us in a War

  • We cannot face the demands of this war in our own strength.
  • This is a cosmic war and God uses us and the angels in the battle.
    • We Were Rescued from the Dark Kingdom Eph. 1, 2, 4, 5
    • Prayer is essential! We are under attack by Satanic forces of evil at work in the world. We need God’s strength. Eph 6:10-17.
    • 6:10-13: Be Strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
      • Strength from God, not ourselves. The true nature of our enemy requires that we live in the strength God provides for us.
      • My own strength is inadequate & will result in mission failure or burnout.
    • 6:14-17 Put on the Full Armor of God.
      • The armor is from God, not ours. We must never forget all he has done & does for us.
      • Notice the one offensive weapon: The Sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
    • Living in a war zone: Varying degrees of intensity.
      • All do not live on the front line, but this is a shared war effort.
      • Even when the battle does not rage around you, there are enemy agents implanted among us and using subtle strategies to undermine our confidence in God and distract us from our work.
    • Some want Christianity without warfare.
      • A consumer attitude rather than a warrior’s attitude: Searching for a safe church that meets my needs and considers my comfort.
      • Romans 8: Suffering and glory are connected in our life with Jesus.

How Are We to Pray? Many of us will have to expand our familiar patterns.

  • Pray in the Spirit on all occasions—at all times.
    • Jesus’ on prayer in Mt. 6: Prayer is not a performance for others.
    • Spirit-empowered Prayer: The Spirit Prays in & with us. Rom. 8:26
      • The Spirit groans with us because we are weak and do not know what we ought to pray—He searches our hearts and intercedes for us in accordance with the will of God.
      • Do not replace a prayerful life in the Spirit with spiritual pep talks & institutional branding with a prayer tacked on at the end.
    • Prayer is essential for being empowered & guided for each battle.
      • Martyn Lloyd Jones on this vital connection: “In other words the Apostle is really repeating in this verse what he has already said in verse 10: ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might’. He started with this precept, but he so well knows how we tend to concentrate on the last thing we have heard, that he goes on to tell us about the whole armour of God in detail. He also knows that many a man is likely to say, ‘This armour is the one thing that matters’, and then to forget that with which the Apostle started; so he brings it in again—‘Praying always’. It is in this way that we become ‘strong in the Lord and in the power of his might’; ‘praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit’. We are utterly dependent upon God and upon the Lord Jesus Christ; and we must realize that if we do not remain in constant contact and communion with God, whatever we may have done by way of putting on the armour will avail us nothing. We must ever maintain this essential intimate relationship with God. Let us never forget that in the Christian life prayer is essential.”[1]
  • Pray with all kinds of prayers & requests—supplication (earnest prayer).
    • A Variety of Prayerful expressions
      • Lord’s prayer, Paul’s prayers, and other prayers in Scripture, as well as other written prayers may open your eyes to the scope & possibility of prayer as well as the simplicity and structure of prayerful action.
      • Formal prayers, written prayers, and spontaneous prayers.
      • We need to cultivate a deeper understanding of the range of prayers. Most of us have a small & familiar repertoire.
    • The importance of petition:
      • Jesus taught his disciples to ask for good gifts from his Father.
      • Petitions are an important part of a healthy life of prayer—an expression of our confidence that God hears & answers requests.
    • See Paul’s description of prayerful intercession in Eph. 1 & 3.
      • Wright: “The point of prayer is… that it accomplishes things we couldn’t do by our own effort, organization or skill.”[2]
  • Be alert & always keep on praying—pray with awareness & perseverance!
    • Our heart and mind are involved in the whole-person action of prayer.
      • Paying attention to what is going on in our lives and around us is essential for a vital life of prayer.
    • Prayer is essential in our relationship with & our dependence on God.

For Whom Are We to Pray? Enlarging the Scope of Our Prayers.

  • Pray for yourself because you are called to be engaged in this battle.
  • Pray for all the Lord’s people—the saints, those now set apart in Christ.
    • We are in this spiritual warfare together as followers of Jesus.
    • We are not alone & must not be self-centered: No “poor me” mindset.
    • Some live at a point of intense attack. Those of us who do not live there should be aware of the intensity of their situation and intercede for them earnestly.
    • Prayer expresses our love for God and for his people.
      • A friend facing a life-threatening situation is determined not to be self-centered in this but to rely on Jesus and focus on those who will be drawn into his life because of his suffering.
  • “Pray also for me!”
    • As a POW for Christ, Paul needs the prayers of others to do his work for God. He continues to advance the cause of Christ.
    • Each of us will have moments to bear witness to Jesus. See Col 4:2-6

Conclusion: The Enemy desires to infiltrate your mind and heart with lies and deception. He wants to undermine your life of prayer.

  • The enemy attempts to discourage and demoralize soldiers.
    • My friend with a critter in the wall: From outside, through the hole in the roof, into the attic, then the deep recesses of the inner walls of the house.
    • That which is outside of our lives, comes into our minds & nests there.
      • Often it drops down into deeper spaces of our lives and becomes more difficult to deal with as it irritates us, robs us of sleep, and becomes a constant concern of others.
      • Eventually, we despise its presence. But then taking action is more costly and complicated.
      • Meanwhile, we have little energy left over to pray for others.
    • In the School of Prayer with Jesus: Praying daily with an alert mind and heart, and listening for our next move.

[1] Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1977). The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10–20 (p. 341). Banner of Truth Trust.

[2] Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon(p. 78). Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.