Wednesday, March 7, 2018
How to Pray
Eph. 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
This prayer begins immediately after Paul’s admonition to put on the full armor of God. A deep theological grasp will result in passionate prayer, because it is in truly understanding the gospel that we comprehend the importance of prayer. There is a gospel of peace that is at odds with the world and there is this cosmic unity which is to be experienced in the church. We must recognize that there are forces that are directly at odds with God’s desire for believers and the church.
Paul is encouraging the church to have a spiritual understanding that creates a heightened awareness to the need of prayer. When the Spirit moves, the church is to pray, not only for themselves but for others as well. Prayer begins with praise to God and then moves to supplication, or intercession on the behalf of needs. Petition is when we are praying for God’s grace to be extended to us because of our own behaviors.
Paul knew that his preaching needed the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit. He also recognized his dependence upon his fellow believers in Ephesus. They were to become partners in his ministry through prayer. Their prayers would help him to have wisdom and clarity when the time came to speak the mystery of the gospel. He wanted to be able to declare this gospel with boldness, but he knew he couldn’t do it on his own. While dressed in spiritual armor, it is the time to call upon the King.
When we connect Paul’s prayer to the armor of God something powerful begins to happening in our understanding. The more we grow spiritually, the more we realize that we need prayer. The more we pray, the more we will grow spiritually. They go hand in hand.
I’m a person who likes to have noise going in the background. However, I’ve found that this is sometimes detrimental to me hearing, or sensing God’s leading. It’s when I find a quiet space and begin to listen and communicate with God in prayer that I find direction. This is very often true when it comes to my speaking or preaching. On an intellectual level, I can prepare material. However, something radically different happens when that material becomes infused with God’s presence and leading. Often, in prayer, I have moments of insight that surprise me. It’s in prayer that I sense God’s peace about a particular direction in which I am going in a project. It’s God’s leading that helps me to have meaningful conversations with others. It’s in prayer that I’m prompted to write someone, or pray for a need. I need prayer, because I need to be connected to God.
So, how do we pray? We take the time to be grounded in the word. We soak up every bit of learning and theological grounding that we can. We stand firm in the armor of God and then we lean into all that God has provided for us, and journey into God’s holy presence. We pray in the Spirit and not out of our intellect. We ask the Spirit to lead and guide us in new directions and new insight. We pray for our sisters and brothers who are in the midst of spiritual battle. When we are sensitive to the Spirit we will actually sense and know when this is happening. We will pray for boldness to speak the prophetic words of God to the world. Yes, for ourselves, but also for others to have holy boldness.
We begin with praise and adoration of God on high. We intercede for others. We pray for our own spiritual well-being. Finally, we pray for a bold proclamation. This is the model that Paul has prepared for us, a church which shall be called a house of prayer.
Lord, may the sweet aroma of your holy presence lead us every moment of every day. Amen.