Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
Through His word, God calls us to lives of continual prayerfulness. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus also calls us to this life of prayer, both by His teaching and His example. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Luke 18:1 and Mark 1:35). Our present verse is another call to praying without ceasing.
The context directs us to appropriate, by faith, the powerful spiritual resources that are ours in the Lord. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). These heavenly provisions are put on by looking to the Lord unceasingly in prayer: “praying always.” This constancy in prayer can be done with “all prayer and supplication.” God has arranged many appropriate ways for us to pray, such as confession, repentance, request, thanksgiving, rejoicing, praise, adoration, and more. Note, however, that every type of praying is to be done “in the Spirit.” As in all areas of life, we must depend upon the Spirit. He will grant us guidance and wisdom for praying according to the will of God.
Godly praying also includes spiritual alertness: “being watchful to this end.” When prayer is especially needed, we can be tempted to slumber. In Gethsemane, the disciples were not alert to the great need to pray. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mark 14:38). Again, this highlights our need to be led of the Spirit. Further, a part of our need for the Spirit pertains to perseverance: “with all perseverance.” Praying requires all kinds of spiritual persistence. Praying requires demanding spiritual labor. The Holy Spirit must sustain us in God’s strength, if we are to engage in prayer to the extent that our Lord often desires. Some of this call to persevering prayer involves the battles and needs that others are facing: “with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” It is not wrong for us to cry out to God concerning our own needs. Our Lord invites us to do such. “Let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Still, the Lord wants to use us in the lives of people near and far through the wonderful avenue of intercession. The vision for prayer given here is quite expansive: “Praying always… all prayer…all perseverance…all the saints.”
Dear Lord, this extensive call to prayer humbles my heart. I see much room to grow in my prayer life. Yet, it stirs my faith as well. By Your Spirit of grace at work in me, such praying is possible. O Lord, please make of me such a prayer warrior, Amen.