“Fighting the Good Fight”
The Warrior’s Praying – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 18)
There are some who would liken this matter of prayer to an add-on rather than a piece of the armour of God. “Praying 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” (Ephesians 6:18). However, I would ask how is the armour to be out on but by prayer. Each and every piece of the armour needs to be put on prayerfully in order for it to be effective. It is the way to bring heaven to our souls, to fetch the grace we need to fight the good fight of faith. The apostle seems to link three things together here, the word of God, the Spirit God, and the Spirit’s constraint to pray at all times. The Spirit’s influence is needed for freedom of utterance (v19). For clarity and liberty of mind and speech to make the gospel known (v19). Prayer is the first response in this warfare. When faced with the threat of opposition Daniel simply carried on as was his custom, “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. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10). This should be the norm for our churches and individual Christians at all times, if for no other reason than that we are on a war footing all the time. Prayer ought to be the heart and life of the Christian church. The need is not for movements, for para-church organisations for mission or anything else. The raising of such societies is usually and indication that the church herself is not doing what she ought to be doing, praying.
Remember what it is we are dealing with here, an enemy, the devil called Satan. “That you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-12). We are constantly warring against his evil schemes and so need to be “praying at all times” (v18). Perhaps we need more often to examine our commitment to the life and work of our local fellowship? That surely is where this battle is won or lost, especially the prayer meeting. As one renowned preacher put it, “the prayer meeting is the engine room of the church.” Not special movements or occasions, but regularly, habitually, “praying at all times” (v18). The word “always” (v18) is sometimes misunderstood. It means just this, regularly, habitually. There are times when we need to be listening to sermons. Or concentrating on doing our jobs. Sometimes we can be over-busy to the point where prayer gets pushed out altogether. I recall a Minister once who on visiting a fellow Minister’s home. The Minister’s wife said to the visitor that her husband had something to confess. Expecting to hear of yet another case of adultery, the visiting Minister was surprised to hear his host tell him, he hadn’t prayed in over a year. And yet he was the Minister of a large church? You see you can do church, the preaching, you can build up a congregation with natural gifts. If it is not done in dependence upon Christ, what is it worth? “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The “praying always” (v18) means living a life that keeps walking with God, sensitive to his counsel. It is being engaged in a natural relationship talking to God about everything.