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Ephesians 6:18-20

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

Ephesians 6:18-20

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Thoughts from Ephesians 6:18-20

This passage will be our text for the next few days. I will talk with you about cooperating with God in world evangelism through prayer. Our prayers, of course, have to do with all aspects of our lives, including our personal needs. However, my emphasis will be on our prayer outreach.

Paul tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the “world forces of this darkness” and “the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). In Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul describes our warfare and the six pieces of armor made available to the Christian soldier. The armor is to be used against Satan and his hosts both defensively and offensively.

We must remember that we are in a spiritual battle. The spiritual war is on! Satan and his hosts would destroy us. They would prevent us from winning the world to Christ. Because of this, it will take prayer and other spiritual means to fight the battle.

In Ephesians 6:18-20 Paul talks about prayer. Prayer is not presented as another piece of armor. Rather, we are to undergird the use of the armor with prayer. Without prayer, we cannot effectively use the armor. In verse 18a, Paul gives a general exhortation concerning prayer. In verses 18b-20 he presents two prayer requests, one for the saints and another for himself. Paul writes:

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with all boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

As we discuss this text, we will examine Paul’s exhortation and apply it to our situation. Then, we will deal with his prayer requests. A call to prayer, I believe, challenges most of us, if not all, to pray more and, when we pray, to pray more effectively. At the same time, we can all thank God for the many, many times in our lives that God has answered prayer.

More Thoughts from Ephesians 6:18-20

Our topic is Your Prayer Outreach. In this text, Paul begins with an exhortation. We will discuss this exhortation and then apply what it says to our lives.

In verse 18a Paul says, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.” Several points in this exhortation stand out. First, we are to pray all kinds of prayer. As Lloyd-Jones points out, there is secret prayer, there is closet prayer, and there is lonely, isolated prayer. In addition, there is a public prayer, church prayer, common prayer, and praying together.

In addition, there are different types of prayer. These types include thanksgiving, intercession, adoration, worship, and praise. Some of these prayers may be rather general, while others are for very specific needs. Very often, our general prayers provide a good background for our specific requests. Our hearts are prepared to bring our needs, and the needs of others, to God.

Second, Paul exhorts us to pray “at all times.” The NEB says, “on every occasion.” Here, the meaning appears to be that we should pray at every crucial time. Whenever needs arise that require intensive prayer, we should be ready to pray. Also, prayer should be a definite and ongoing part of our spiritual lives. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” Through prayer, we can remain constantly in touch with God

Third, Paul exhorts us to pray “in the Spirit.” His emphasis is on Spirit-inspired prayers. When we pray “in the Spirit,” the Spirit helps us pray. The Spirit is our indwelling prayer partner. Spirit-inspired prayers include praying in tongues, praying in a language you know, and praying with groanings that can not be uttered. Very often, such prayers are prayed with deep emotion.

We can apply Paul’s exhortation about prayer to our lives today. In my next “thoughts” I will concentrate on the application of Paul’s message.

More Thoughts from Ephesians 6:18-20

As we have discussed, in this passage Paul exhorts us to pray and then states his prayer requests. Today, we will consider the application of the text to our lives. Our special emphasis is on Your Prayer Outreach.

Many of our thoughts about prayer center on our personal needs. Jesus taught us to pray about such needs in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). God is concerned about our needs. Sometimes (James 4:2-3) we have not because we ask not, or we ask with wrong motives. With proper motives, we must bring them to Him.

Turning now to Your Prayer Outreach, I would present a couple of points. One, through prayer, our purposes in ministry are clarified and defined. Through prayer, the Spirit helps us sift out what is just our desire and focus on God’s will. Many times, we do not know how to pray, but the Spirit (Rom. 8:26) does.

Two, through prayer, our passion for world evangelism is stirred. There is a time for reason and there is a time for emotion. We must have neither emotion without reason nor reason without emotion. Both our hearts and our minds must be engaged in the battle. Too often, our hearts are barren and our eyes dry. The Psalmist (126:5) said, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.”

Three, prayer is a powerful force in world evangelism. The forces of spiritual darkness wilt before the powerful name of Jesus. Prayer enables us to use the mighty armor provided for us. Through prayer, we can withstand the (v. 11)’’ schemes of the devil” and invade his territory with authority! Satan is a defeated foe.

When we consider the power of prayer, we stand in awe of a great mystery. We not only come to God with our requests, but through prayer, we have a part in releasing His power! Surely God can act without us. However, He, in His divine wisdom, very often chooses to work through us. When we pray, God uses our prayers in turning the world upside down! According to James 5:16, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.’’ While we cannot explain the mystery of this statement, we can believe it with gratitude and accept the result. No wonder Paul exhorted us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

More Thoughts from Ephesians 6:18-20

Paul exhorted the Ephesians to “pray at all times in the Spirit.” Then he requests prayer for the saints and for himself. Today, we will discuss his prayer request for the saints. He writes: “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

What does Paul mean when he says to be on the alert? Putting it positively, we must be tuned to what is going on in our homes, at work, in the streets, in our city and country, and in our church. By being alert, we will have many opportunities to pray. Negatively, we must not go to sleep. We can miss opportunities to pray

Paul summons us to pray with “all perseverance and petition.” We must not let our interest flag or our hearts and spirits grow weary when there may be no immediate answer. It may take years for us to see answers to some prayers. Also, we are to pray with all specific petitions.” We can bring any petitions to the Lord in prayer.

Our prayers should be for “all the saints.” Paul calls on us to pray intercessory prayers for others. This includes praying for their personal needs and their ministries. Every ministry needs abundant prayer support.

Many times, people face emergencies. We can be God’s emergency prayer warriors. It will require listening to the Spirit, constant vigilance, and genuine concern for all people. As we observe people, we can sense that they have needs. Very often the best time to pray is when we first hear the need. Sometimes the person is far away. The Spirit impresses them upon our minds. When the Spirit speaks, we must pray.

More Thoughts from Ephesians 6:18-20

Paul exhorted the Ephesians to pray. After that, he requested that they pray for all the saints and then pray on his behalf. His request does not have so much to do with his well-being as with his ministry. He writes: “and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

When Paul wrote these words, he was a prisoner, but he does not ask the Ephesians to pray for his deliverance. Rather, he is concerned that he will be able to speak powerfully and freely. It is doubtful that Paul was a good natural speaker. According to Paul, the Corinthians (2 Cor. 10:10) that “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible.” In our text, Paul requests prayer that he may speak with boldness. When he speaks boldly, his mission will be accomplished.

No doubt there are many personal needs among our friends. We are happy to respond with prayer for them and to submit our prayer requests for our needs. In addition, let us not hesitate to ask for prayer for our ministries. Asking for prayer requires a degree of humility. The very asking confesses a need and a dependency upon the Lord. Just as we need to pray for others, we need them to pray for us. Through prayer, we can powerfully work together.

At every stage in life, we can pray. Some of you are retired from active ministry, but you do not need to retire from prayer ministry. You can pray for the ministries of others, and you can request prayer for your prayer ministry. If you would like to request prayer for our ministry, maybe you could just click on Like below. Then, other readers will have the opportunity to pray for you.

More Thoughts from Ephesians 6:18-20

As we have been discussing, Paul addresses the Ephesians about prayer. He exhorted them to pray and then presented his prayer requests. He wrote:

“18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Paul encouraged the Ephesians to pray at all times for all the saints. Our prayers for the saints should be for their personal needs and their ministries. Next, Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him that he may present the gospel with boldness. He asked them to pray for his ministry.

Last night our service closed with a time of prayer. The emphasis of the message was on being empowered to witness. So, many were praying to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Many others presented prayer requests for healing. The concern of each one for the others was evident. It was a beautiful time of prayer outreach. It is a great privilege to belong to the body of Christ and to pray for one another. Today, once again, we can have a prayer outreach.

George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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