Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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12. Standing in God’s Strength – Part 7

Ephesians 6:10-24

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, life saturated and all-encompassing but fourth we should also have a:

  1. Clear-minded.

Paul calls us to pay attention and to be alert when we pray. The word used here literally means, sleepless and not drowsy. Paul is returning to the picture of a military image to help remind us of the seriousness of the situation, the reality that we are on guard duty in the middle of a war. We all need to have this military mindset or we will be in danger of going AWOL. Now the phrase, “watch and pray” is used often in the Bible. It’s interesting that the two are found together because sometimes prayer can make you start to yawn. Peter went to sleep when he should have been watching, as Matthew 26:40 records, “Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?” Saul had his spear taken when he fell asleep (1 Samuel 26:12), Samson’s hair was whacked off while he was snoring (Judges 16:19), and Sisera’s head was nailed to the ground while he took a siesta (Judges 4:21). Now I am in no way saying that we shouldn’t sleep, but we must guard against snoozing when we should be interceding. There are at least three things we should watch out for when we’re praying: First, we need to be aware of the evil around us and Satan’s sly plans to keep us from praying. Remember the goal is not to give ground, we are to stand and in order to stand you can’t fall asleep. If you don’t want to let the devil win then don’t let him in. Work through your weariness, don’t give in and become a spiritual sluggard. Second, watch your propensity to space out while you’re praying. We need to stay on task and stay alert. 1 Peter 4:7 says: “Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” One technic I used to keep my mind clear and stay focused is to write out my prayers in a journal. Third be attentive to God’s answers to your prayers. Don’t just pray, look for God’s answers during the day. Pray expectantly, expect God to respond and keep praying until He does. When He does, take the time to praise, and record it so that you will remember His power over the problems. The nation of Israel frequently recorded and retold the next generation about the faithfulness of God their Father.  Not only are we called to be alert but fifth we are called to be:

  1. Persistently-devoted.

It is here that Paul reminds us to “always keep on praying.” To keep on praying means to serve steadfastly. Some of you have been praying for a family member for years and sometimes you wonder if it is worth it. Let me encourage you to passionately pursue God in prayer, don’t give in and give up on God. Keep on praying until the Spirit stops you or the Father answers you. Jesus encouraged us to engage in persistent prayer when He said in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” These three verbs are present imperatives so it could read: “Ask, and keep on asking; seek, and keep on seeking; knock, and keep on knocking.” There’s also an ascending order of intensity here. We begin by asking and then we seek by going after it and finally we pound on the door. George Mueller prayed for two friends for over fifty years. Someone asked him if he really believed that God would convert them. I love his response: “Do you think God would have kept me praying all these years if He did not intend to save them?” Both of these men eventually came to Christ, one right before Mueller died; the other shortly after his death. Don’t waver keep pray with alertness and perseverance. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Be alert and keep on praying even when things don’t seem to be going well. Lastly, Paul reminds us not just to pray for ourselves but to be:

  1. Others-focused.

The final element of prayer is to make sure we are praying for others, not just for ourselves: “keep on praying for all the saints.” Doesn’t just petition God over your problems passionately serve others through prayer. Remember that when Jesus taught His followers to pray, He began with the phrase, “Our Father.” We are to pray in the plural, not just the singular. Our prayers have the ability to impact lives around the world. Don’t limit the power of prayer by being self-focused instead unleash the power of prayer by being service focused. Cover your family in prayer as you commit them to God’s divine protection. Pray for your church, pray for your pastors and Elders. Remember Paul modeled the importance of praying for others, he not only practiced what he preached he also asked people to pray for him. He asked for prayer so that he would be able to powerfully communicate God’s plan for peace even while he was in prison. He didn’t ask for people to pray that he would be freed from his circumstantial chains, but that others through Christ would find freedom from their spiritual chains. Don’t just use prayer as a tool to serve self, pray for all the saints. Remember to partner through prayer with others who are serving with you and striving to stand their ground in this spiritual battle. So let me ask you are you engaged in the power of prayer? Are your prayers spirit-directed, life saturated, all-encompassing, clear-minded, persistently devoted and others-focused?