Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
We must remember that when Jesus was here in the flesh He was engaged in the same conflict that we are in. The devil assailed Him and the weapons that Christ used are the same weapons that we Christians have as well to defeat the enemy.
Ephesians 6:18 starts out with the words, “praying always.” Prayer is not necessarily another piece of armor that we put on, but when we are putting on the armor it means that we are covered with each piece as we pray with all prayer and supplication. I believe it is like some Bible scholars bring out that the armor which is provided by God for us is not effective unless we are in fellowship and communion with God.
We can be orthodox in our theology, but that is not enough. There is such a thing as a dead orthodoxy. There can be people who understand the truth with their mind, point out the errors in other people’s teaching and yet their life has no value to anyone, because they are still being defeated by the devil.
The same can be applied to the church as a whole. Often this might be the case of why so many churches, traditional in their theology, are making very little impact in their society or in their surrounding area where they live or work. Why is this the case? Perhaps it is because they have forgotten the further admonition of the apostle Paul when he said, “praying always.” It is possible that the people or churches who are the most orthodox are those who realize least – the value of prayer.
In one sense, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, is not to forget this last admonition of the apostle Paul of praying always. We cannot rely upon our own intellect, philosophy, traditions, rituals, etc., but on the power of God and our continual close communion with Him.
When we look at the New Testament, and especially the four gospels, we see the example of the Lord Jesus Christ in human form with prayer walking the earth depending solely on His Father. We see Jesus constantly arising early in the morning to seek out a place to pray; we see Him praying all night; we see Him constantly going off to meet with His Heavenly Father. This is why in the gospel of Luke the disciples came and said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1
Our ultimate position as Christians is tested by the character of our prayer life. Prayer to the Father is more important than knowledge and understanding. If all my knowledge and understanding does not lead me to prayer then there is something wrong with my understanding.
What does Paul mean when he talks about praying with all prayer? I would tend to think that he is referring to private prayer, communal prayer, oral prayer, silent prayer and possibly even different positions of prayer. It does not mean that we have to be in a church building for prayer, we can pray as we walk, as we drive, take a shower, as we go about our daily business; we can be talking with our Heavenly Father even as we talk with our spouse or close friend.
Some of our prayers can be orderly as we see with the Lord’s Prayer. Our prayers need to be intelligent knowing what God says in His Word. Also, prayers can be a groan or a cry from the heart that words cannot express. Paul said in Romans that the Spirit makes intercession for us.
Look at the prayers of the prophets, like Isaiah, who prayed with adoration, worship, thanksgiving and praise to our Heavenly Father. We are to pray bringing our petitions before God because we are told to “let your requests be made known unto God.”
However, Paul says “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” I believe that “In the Spirit” is the real essence of true prayer. Just as Jesus had access to the Father so we too find in Ephesians 2:18 that “through Him, we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Paul refers to the same thing in other epistles – like in Romans 8:6.
When Paul uses the phrase “in the Spirit” in relation to prayer – prayer is to have its proper place before the Father. It will not be because of our repetitions like the Pharisees who loved to hear themselves pray, or by the length of our prayers, etc., but it is to be “in the Spirit” that we pray.
Prayer “in the Spirit” is the opposite of prayer that relies upon forms of rituals, as we again see with the Pharisees. Praying in the Spirit is the opposite of cold, heartless, proud and formal prayers. We do not come before the Father and just ‘say a prayer.’ Praying in the Spirit becomes the most important part of a person, and as natural as having a conversation with a friend or your spouse. Praying in the Spirit is not necessarily an emotional prayer although it can be, but what it means is that it is the Holy Spirit that is directing us in prayer. He creates the prayer within us and empowers us to offer it with confidence. This also results in worship, praise and adoration to our Heavenly Father.
Prayer is not a duty, but rather it should be a delight to talk to our heavenly Father – just as it is a delight to have a two-way conversation with your loving spouse or closest friend.