Topical - The Four all's of Prayer
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:18,19)
WHAT IS PRAYER?
· “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.”
· The essence of prayer is simply talking to God as you would to a beloved friend-without pretense (insincere effort), or flippancy (not serious enough).
· For Christians prayer is like breathing and every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in his truths to be fully functional.
Prayer is the closing theme of Ephesians, and though closely related to God’s armor, it is not mentioned as part of it because it is much more than that. Prayer is not merely another godly weapon, as important as the whole armor is, prayer is the very spiritual air that the soldier of Christ breathes.
-Jesus urged His disciples to pray always and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1). “And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
-Jesus is the one who made it possible for us to come into the presence of a Holy God.
· “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Eph. 2:18)
· “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
· Joh 10:7 “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”
· Joh 10:9 “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
· Joh 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
· Rom 5:1-2 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
· Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
· Heb 7:25 “Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
· Heb 10:19-22 “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Since Christ has made it possible for us to come into the presence of God, prayer should be second nature to the child of God. That’s the picture of prayer we have in the Scriptures: steadfast, constant, ceaseless, continuing, praying everywhere we go, praying about everything that happens. Prayer should be like breathing.
One crucial reason the early Christians were on fire for God was that they “continued steadfastly . . . in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
The New Testament Epistles, written to those first Christians and to us, persistently instruct believers to pray.
· Rom 12:12 “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
· Eph 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
· Phil 4:6 “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
· Col 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
· 1 Thess 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
With this in mind and knowing that “in Him you have been made complete” (Col. 2:10), and “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), lets look at the closing verses of Ephesians and see the emphases Paul makes on prayer.
THE GENERAL INSTRUCTION
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
The four “all’s” introduce the five emphases Paul makes regarding the general character of the believer’s prayer life: the variety, the frequency, the power, the manner, and the objects of prayer. Equipping ourselves with God’s armor is not a mechanical operation; it is itself an expression of our dependence on God, in other words of prayer. Moreover, it is prayer “in the Spirit” prompted and guided by Him, just as God’s Word is “the sword of the Spirit” which he himself puts to use. Therefore, Scripture and prayer belong together, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4) as the two chief weapons which the Spirit puts into our hands.
THE VARIETY OF PRAYER: “all prayer and supplication”
· Proseuche (prayer) – refers to general requests while deesis (petition) refers to those that are specific. The use of both words points to the idea that we are to be involved in all kinds of prayer, every form of prayer that is appropriate.
The soldier’s communion with his General – the believer’s fellowship with his God – should not be of just one kind – “always asking for things.”
Our prayers should include not only cries for help but also confession of sin, profession of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, intercession.
The New Testament, like the Old, mentions many forms, circumstances, and postures for prayer but prescribes none.
Jesus prayed while standing, sitting, kneeling, and other positions as well. We can pray wherever we are and whatever situation we are in “I desire then that in every place the men should pray” (1 Timothy 2:8).
Every place becomes a place of prayer for the faithful, Spirit filled Christian.
· DANIEL – Daniel was faithful to his God in all that he did. “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem; and he got down upon his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10).
He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed; kneeling is a prayer gesture, a token of reverence and humility; this was done three times a day, morning, noon, and evening; Ps 55:17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” In the morning, before he went out about the king's business; at noon, when he returned home to dinner; and at evening, when all his work was done, and he was about to retire to bed; the hours of prayer with the Jews seem to have been the third, sixth, and ninth; that is, at nine in the morning, twelve at noon, and three in the afternoon; see #Ac 2:1,15 3:1 10:9:
THE FREQUENCY OF PRAYER –The “when” of prayer
· Thanksgiving Day comes just once a year. This day was set aside by the National Government. The book of Proverbs tell us that we are to acknowledge Him in all our ways, not just on Thanksgiving Day (Prov. 3:6).
Jesus said, “Keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are to take place” (Luke 21:36).
As noted earlier, the Christians in Jerusalem “were continually devoting themselves . . . to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The God-fearing Cornelius, to whom the Lord sent Peter with the message of salvation, “prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2).
The Apostle Paul prayed for Timothy “night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3).
· Only through a regular and sincere prayer life can God’s Holy Spirit add spiritual wisdom to our knowledge. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote, “our ultimate position as Christians is tested by the character of our prayer life.”
The more we learn about God and the things of God should drive us to know Him more personally.
Jesus’ deepest prayer for His disciples was not that the simply know the truths about God but that “they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Studying and learning God’s Word and growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” should always drive the believer to “know” Him more intimately and to commune with Him more faithfully in prayer.
To pray at all times obviously does not mean “always saying prayers.” We are not heard for our “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7), if our prayer are mechanically recited, or ritualistic this amounts to no more than “meaningless repetition.”
To “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) says to us, “always be in communion with the Lord.” Never have to say “Lord, we come into Your presence,” because you never left His presence.
To pray at all times is to live in a Continual God-Consciousness, where everything we see and experience becomes a kind of prayer.
1. Temptation – When we are tempted, we hold the temptation before God and ask for His help.
2. Thanksgiving – When we experience something good and beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
3. Evil – When we see evil around us, we pray that God will make it right and be willing to be used of Him to that end.
4. Witnessing – When we meet someone that does not know Christ, pray for God to draw that person to Himself and to use us to be a faithful witness.
5. Trouble – When we encounter trouble, pray to God as our Deliverer.
To pray at all times is to constantly set our minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).
THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF OUR SALVATION IS TO GLORIFY GOD AND TO BRING US INTO INTIMATE, RICH FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you,” John said, “that you also may have fellowship
with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ”
(1 John 1:3)
Our fellowship with God is not meant to wait until heaven. God’s greatest desire, and our greatest need, is to be in constant fellowship with Him “now,” and there is no greater expression or experience of fellowship than prayer.
THE POWER OF PRAYER – “in the Spirit”
When we pray are prayers are directed to the Father, through the Son, and “in the Spirit.” To pray in the Spirit is to pray in the name of Christ, consistent with His will. To know the will of God is to know the Word of God and to know the Word of God will only come by the study of the Scriptures daily.
Romans 8:26-27, tells us that only in the Spirit’s power can we pray in the will of God; “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
The Old Testament Tabernacle
There was a small golden altar standing before the veil, and here the priest burned the incense (Ex. 30:1-10; Luke 1:1-11).
· The incense is a picture of prayer being mixed according to God’s plan or (His will).
· The fire on the altar is a picture of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who takes our prayers and “ignites” them in the will of God.
As the “Spirit of grace and of supplication” (Zech. 12:10), the Holy Spirit continually prays for us; and for us to pray rightly is to pray as He prays, lining up our minds and desires with His (the Spirit) mind and desires, which is consistent with the will of the Father and the Son.
Ephesians 5:18 tells us that we are to “be filled with the Spirit.” Being filled with the Spirit and walking in the leading and power of the Spirit is to be made able to pray in the Spirit.
FOUR POINTS TO PONDER
ü It is important that the Spirit guides and leads all believers in all that they do.
ü We should look for the Holy Spirit to assist, lead us in our prayers. Ask the Spirit to lead your prayer to the Father. We will not pray effectively if we pray in our own strength and under the guidance of our own wisdom.
ü It is possible to pray fervently in the flesh and never get through to God.
ü It is possible to pray quietly “in the Spirit” and see God’s hand do great things!
Pauls prayer for the Ephesians was that they,
“ be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man . . . Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 2:16,20,21).
Remember you are God’s child and “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
THE MANNER OF PRAYER – “being on the alert with all perseverance and supplication”
Jesus told His disciples to “watch and pray” (Matt. 26:41; Mark 13:33; Luke 18:1).
To the Colossians Paul said to “devote [themselves] to prayer” (Col. 4:2).
“devote” means to be steadfast, constant, and persevering. To be devoted to prayer is to earnestly, courageously, and persistently bring everything in our lives before God.
Jesus told a parable about a persistent neighbor and at the end of the parable He said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)
Jesus also said in (Luke 18:7-8), “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.”
TO PRAY IN THE RIGHT MANNER MEANS TO:
1. Pray sensibly, with our minds and our understanding as well with our hearts and our spirits. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also” (1 Cor. 14:15).
2. Pray specifically. “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13).
GOD ANSWERS PRAYER IN ORDER TO PUT HIS POWER ON DISPLAY, AND WHEN WE DO NOT PRAY SPECIFICALLY, HE CANNOT ANSWER SPECIFICALLY AND THEREFORE CLEARLY DISPLAY HIS POWER AND HIS LOVE FOR HIS CHILDREN.
OUR GREATEST CONCERN
Our Heavenly Father certainly wants us to bring “all” of our physically needs before Him but, “our greatest concern and focus should be for our “spiritual needs” – victory over temptation – for forgivness and cleansing of sins already committed – for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, and for believers to have a greater dependence on Him!
OUR DEEPEST PRAYERS
Our deepest prayer for “all” Christians, that they win the spiritual against Satan.
PAUL’S PRAYERS FOR BELIEVERS
1 Corinthians 1:4-7
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge--even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you--so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE OBJECTS OF PRAYER – “for all the saints”
The Lord’s prayer begins with “Our Father” not “My Father.” We are part of a great big family that is talking to God, and we ought to pray for the other members of “Our” family. The Bible primarily calls us to pray for others rather than ourselves, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4).
The greatest thing we can do for another believer, or that he can do for us, is to pray.
Samuel said to the people of Israel, “far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).
Question? With God’s own Holy Spirit to indwell us and help us even when we do not know how to pray (Rom. 8:26), how much more do we as Christians sin against God when we fail to pray for fellow saints?
WHAT DID PAUL WANT – “and for me”
that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel”
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4).
Paul did not plead, pray on my behalf, in order that his ankles, raw and sore from his shackles, might be healed, or that he might be freed from prison and suffering, no, in reality the pray request for himself is a petition for the progress of the gospel.
Paul was aware of his own weakness, and knew that he stood in need of divine strength and guidence every moment:
v Romans 15:30 - I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
v 1 Thessalonians 5:25 - Brethren, pray for us.
v 2 Thessalonians 3:1 - Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you.
In his letter to the Philippians believers Paul testified,
v But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear (Philippians 1:12-14).
EVEN WHEN HE REQUESTED PRAYER FOR HIMSELF, PAUL’S PURP0SE AND MOTIVE WERE SELFLESS-TO FURTHER THE GOSPEL, TO ENCOURAGE OTHER BELIEVERS, AND TO GLORIFY HIS LORD!