1. By Always Being Able to Pray “Praying always”
2. By Praying all Kinds of Prayer “All prayer and supplication”
(There are private, family, silent, audible, mealtime, congregational, set time, and emergency prayers)
A. “Prayer” is a general word for prayer as in worship. We worship when we give to Him as Psalm 29:1-2 illustrate. This is stair step parallelism where “give” starts each of the first three lines and is repeated with additional information and climaxes in the fourth line with “worship” instead of “give.” The essence of worship is giving. When we pray we are worshiping Him or giving to Him our time, energy, praise, burdens, and our entire person.
B. “Supplication” is a more specific kind of prayer that asks God to supply someone’s needs. It is intercession or “supplication for all saints.”
All these prayers give a balance that helps us avoid extremes in our praying.
1) The extreme of asking but seldom thanking God. “Thanksgiving” is another kind of prayer mentioned in Philippians 4:6. Someone said, “One trial makes us forget 10,000 blessings.” Thanksgiving remedies this extreme.
2) The extreme of praying for physical needs but seldom praying for spiritual needs. In verses 19, 20 although Paul is in prison in chains, he does not request “that his ankles, raw and sore from his shackles, might be healed, or that he might be freed from prison and suffering” (MacArthur, 383). He request prayer for boldness to witness to the lost.
3) The extreme of praying for ourselves but seldom for others. Even here Paul does not pray for himself but instead asks his people to pray for him. Paul was not bashful in asking his people to pray for him. Here are other times Paul requested others to pray for him: 2 Cor 1:11; Col 4:3-4; 1 Thess 5:25; 2 Thess 3:1-2; Rom 15:30-32; Phil 1:19. MacArthur explains why it is important to pray for our spiritual leaders: “Our enemy knows that when he strikes the shepherd, the sheep will scatter (Matt 26:31), and church leaders—-even as the Lord Himself—are Satan’s special targets. The more faithful and fruitful a pastor is, the more his people need to pray for his strength and protection. He is more subject to the devil’s schemes to make him discouraged or self-satisfied, hopeless or superficially optimistic, cowardly or overconfident. Satan uses every situation—favorable or unfavorable, successful or unsuccessful— to try to weaken, distract, an discredit God’s gifted men in their work of “equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Eph. 4:12) (page 384).
3. By Praying “In the Spirit”
A. Praying in the Spirit is the opposite of praying in the flesh or “asking amiss that you might consume it on your own lusts” (James 4:3).
B. Paul has given us a pattern for prayer in 1:17 and 3:14 that involves the Trinity in our praying. We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
C. Praying in the Spirit also means praying with the Spirit’s help (Romans 8:26, 27). “To pray in the Spirit is to pray in concert with the Spirit, who ’helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words’” (MacArthur, 380).
4. By Watching and Praying “Watching Thereunto and Supplication”
A. Peter fell asleep in the act of prayer (Jesus told Peter to “watch and pray that you enter not into temptation” in Matthew 26:41 and Peter did not watch and pray but fell asleep and also into temptation in Matthew 26:69).
B. Paul’s point is much more important: Don’t fall asleep at the task of praying (Colossians 4:2). Don’t become complacent about prayer. There are too many people who need our prayers for us not to pray as we ought.
5. By Praying “With all Perseverance”
A. The church in Acts 12 prayed with perseverance for Peter’s deliverance from martyrdom. The church prayed with perseverance and at the last minute on the night before the next day that Peter would be executed, God answered their prayer.
B. Sometimes we stop praying too soon. Someone said, “Perseverance in praying doesn’t mean you pray all night, but you pray all week, or all month, or all year. You don’t give up.” For whom or for what are you praying? Don’t give up.
George Mueller’s name will forever be associated with effective prayer. Through fervent prayer, Mueller established an orphanage in Bristol, England in the 1800s. Mueller saw that ministry grow to include the care of two thousand orphans in five orphanages. Mueller traveled over 200,o00 miles to share the gospel in forty-two countries. In all of this, he never once asked for money; he based his enormous ministry solely on prayer. Mueller also faithfully prayed for people’s salvation. At one point in his life he observed:
In November, 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, on land or at sea, and whatever the pressure on my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remained unconverted . . . . The man to whom God in the riches of his grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer in the self-same hour or day in which they were offered has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these individuals, and yet they remain unconverted…. But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer. They are not converted yet, but they will be.
It was not until after Mueller’s death that the last man accepted Christ as his Savior, but each one did. Such was Mueller’s trust in God and tenacity in prayer (Henry and Richard Blackaby. Spiritual Leadership. 152-153).
If you have completed the 13 weeks of study through Ephesians let me know.