Sunday, 19 October 1997 00:00

Praying in the Spirit: The Believer’s Great Duty

Ephesians 6:18-20 (KJV)

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

I started to title this message "The Believer's Great Privilege" because prayer is the privilege of every believer, but I realize that more importantly prayer is a responsibility for every Christian. I think it is important to emphasize the duty of prayer for two reasons:

  1. Prayer is often a struggle, and then only a sense of duty will lead you to pray.
  2. Prayer is always essential, so the privileges of prayer are secondary to the need.

The Scriptures say "pray without ceasing" and we are to "pray always."
In our text there are three different prayers that are to be part of the fabric of our Christian lives:

  1. I am to pray for myself personally... "with all prayer and supplication"
    John Bunyan's allegory Pilgrim's Progress tells us Christian encountered forces from hell where the sword was useless. "He was forced sheath his sword and take another weapon—"All-Prayer."
    1. The types of prayers I am to pray for myself:
      1. All prayer refers to different kinds and types of prayer appropriate to the occasion.
      2. All supplication refers to prayer that makes personal requests of God.
    2. The times I am to pray for myself
      "At all times" is the goal, according to Paul. This is similar to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess 5:17). This means you "see Him that is invisible" and your thoughts are always upon Him.
    3. The test of genuine prayer for myself
      "In the Spirit" means your prayers are Spirit-led, Spirit-directed and Spirit-controlled. Bunyan defined prayer this way:
      "Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, according to the Word of God, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God."
  2. I am to pray for other persons... "with all perseverance and petition for all the saints"
    We are the family of God and the army of Christ. The Christian life is not lived alone.
    1. God blesses His people through intercessory prayer.
    2. II Corinthians 1:11: "You also are helping us by your prayers"
      Though God ordains all things, He has decreed that "the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much." For that reason we are to pray for others.
    3. God lifts us up in our hearts when we pray for others in need.
      D. Martin Lloyd-Jones tells us that before the Spanish Civil war before WWII the hospitals were filled with neurotic, psychotic people. During the war the hospitals emptied as people saw their minor problems paled in importance compared to the war. When you are down on your knees for other people, your problems seem to disappear.
    4. God desires you to "watch out" for others who are part of your family.
  3. I am to pray for my pastors... Paul says "and [pray] for me"
    There are three things that the Lord asks you to pray for your pastor, concerning:
    1. That he might have freedom as he shares the gospel.
    2. That he might speak "boldly" that which God has laid upon his heart.
    3. That the Lord will grant him contentment to preach the gospel where he is.

    Paul was "in bonds" (i.e. "prison") and notice, he did not ask for deliverance, but that he might share the gospel freely and boldly where the Lord has placed him in providence.

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