10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
Not only should our prayers be Spirit-directed and life saturated but thirdly they should be:
We are to seek the Spirit “with all kinds of prayers and requests.” The Greek emphasizes “all types” of prayer. Prayer can be public or private; social or secret; solemn or sudden. Our prayers can be written out or they can be spontaneous. We can think them or we can shout them. We can weep in brokenness when we pray, or we can be exuberant with praise. The word “prayer” refers to something general and concerns honoring God by bowing in reverence before Him, while a “request” is a specific petition. When we come to God it’s easy for us to fall into the habit of just approaching God with a shopping list of personal needs and forgetting about the praise. And while prayer is not a formula the acronym ACTS provides a profitable pattern for prayer. ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9 provides a perfect example of this:
Adoration – While God loves to hear our requests, He is honored when we begin not with our petitions but with praise. When Daniel prayed for his nation, he started first with worship. Verse 4 says: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands.” Instead of rushing into your requests take the time to rejoice and worship your Creator. Problems tend to cause us to panic but don’t let the difficulties dictate your attitudes and actions, learn to slow down and praise God for who He is.
Confession – After adoring the Almighty, Daniel immediately goes into a time of confession in verse 5: “we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” Daniel couldn’t help but confess because his invocation led to introspection and he quickly realized all the ways that he and his people fell short. Actually, when you read the whole chapter, you’ll see that the majority of his prayer is spent in confession. Instead of just coming to God and expecting Him to change your circumstances, come clean before Him and let Him change your heart. What do you need to confess and come clean about before Christ?
Thanksgiving – After worshipping God and owning his sin, Daniel remembers to give thanks for all that God has done, and in verse 15 it says: “Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day…” So what is it that you can thank God for today? Where has He been faithful in your life, where has He been good? How have you seen His power displayed?
Supplication – When we put our requests at the end instead of starting with supplication, we are in a much better position to acknowledge that God’s will is what we really want not our wants. Adoring, confessing and thanking make it harder to have a selfish heart. Daniel, who is obviously praying “in the Spirit,” pleads in verse 17: “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor upon your desolate sanctuary.” He concludes his prayer in verse 19 with a sense of urgency: “O lord, listen! O Lord, forgive. O Lord, hear and act!” When you pray you don’t need to be timid, its ok to pour out your heart before God. Don’t hold back, you don’t have to be meek or hesitant as Hebrews 4:16 states: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence…” James 4:2 in the New King James puts it clearly: “You do not have because you do not ask.” So when it comes to praying with all kinds of prayer there will be times when those need to be long prayers and times they need to be short prayers, depending on the situation. It’s easy enough to be like some Christians and pray on some occasions, some sorts of prayers, but we are commanded to pray at all times with every prayer and supplication, for all the saints, always persevering. I can’t help but feel that on this rests our hope of victory. Not our final victory, no that depends solely on Christ’s victory. No, I’m talking about our ability to stand firm, and our success in achieving all that God has planned for us as the people of God, this I believe will depend on how much we make prayer a priority. So never take for granted the victory over sin that Christ has won for us. Never underestimate the devil. He’ll oppose us at every opportunity. Never give up in the fight against sin and evil. But always remember the power of God and the armor with which he’s equipped us. And finally, make prayer a priority and not just in the problems. As you learn to lean on the Lord in prayer in every occasion you’ll be able to stand firm against Satan’s schemes. So let me ask you how powerful is your prayer life, how persistent are you in prayer? Do you pray only in the problems or do you praise even when the sky turns from blue to black and back?