Adapted from a Jim Black sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp?ContributorID=&SermonID=56797
Ephesians 6:18 NET With every prayer andpetition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and tothis end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. 19 Pray for mealso, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak — that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains.
Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak. 21 Tychicus, my dearbrother and faithful servant in the Lord, willmake everything known to you, so that you too may know about my circumstances, how I am doing. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, thatyou may know our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.
23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, andlove with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all of those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. Paul calls Christians to utilize the most powerful „weapon‟ they possess: PRAYER, AT ALL TIMES! Christians are encouraged to re-discover the power of prayer in their lives.
Ephesians 6:12 NET For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 For this reason, take up the full armor ofGod so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening thebelt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, 16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end bealert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.History records that on August 6, 1945 after four long years of war with the Axis of evil and after years of research and development, President Harry S. Truman gave the order.
United States Army Air Forces crew on board the B-29 Superfortress, the EnolaGay, dropped the Atomic Bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy”, on Hiroshima, Japan. One minute after being dropped, the bomb exploded into a fireball with a magnitude of which had never been seen before! That and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki threedays later brought a clear and decisive endto years of death and destruction during the second world war.
Maybe you‟ve heard about the M.O.A.B. - the Massive Ordnance Air Burst Bomb. It‟s the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) bomb ever developed and its being used by Allied forces.Sometimes in war, the situation calls for the most powerful weapon at your disposal.
In this battle against the spiritual forces of evil, in this battle for the souls of men and women, the most powerful weapon at our disposal, SADLY, is often the weapon we pull out last, Prayer.In today‟s text let‟s notice Paul‟s final prayer requests of the Ephesians.
1. Notice, Paul calls on Christians to PRAY AT ALL TIMES, in EVERY SEASON! Though Paul saves it for last in this list, Ibelieve he does so because it is the MOSTIMPORTANT WEAPON of battle! Not that it should be used as the last resort, or when all else fails! No! He says that Christians are to pray ON ALL OCCASIONS!
He had told the church at Thessalonica to constantly pray, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NET Why? This is the foundational weapon of war!
To use the language I used last week, there‟s a war on! It‟s a serious war against a serious enemy, but we have asecret weapon at our disposal! Like Special Operative troops they aim theirsophisticated lasers at specific locales andcall down laser-guided missiles from fighter jets overhead to destroy specific targets!
That‟s how prayer works. In prayer, we cancall down power from on high and focus it in on a specific target! It makes a difference! Paul is calling for more than specificprayers, he‟s calling for a lifestyle of prayer!
While there are certainly times which weare to go into our prayer closets and spend specific and pointed quiet time with God; (Matt. 6:6) this is a call to see all of life as communion with God. I DO think that we should see prayer as a kind of „spiritual breathing‟, something we do naturally, almost without thinking about it.
2. Notice, too, Paul calls on Christians to pray…IN THE SPIRIT.What does it mean to pray…in the Spirit? Isthis different from „just praying?‟ According to a survey almost 90% of Americans regularly „pray‟ in some regard. But justbecause one says he is praying, does that really mean that he is truly speaking to God?
To pray…in the Spirit is to pray „under the influence of the Spirit.‟ Back in 5:18 Paul had exhorted his readers And do not getdrunk with wine, which is debauchery, butbe filled by the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 NET Christians are to live their lives under the influence of the Spirit, NOT anything or anyone else!
This is a call for Christians to be guided and led by the Holy Spirit of God in their prayers! That their prayers & requests arenot just some rote prayers memorized sinceyouth or some „wish list‟; “God, please could you give me this, or that, and by the way,” NO! Our prayer is directed by the Holy Spirit! How? How does this work? I‟m not exactly sure, but I think Romams 8:26,27 helps us out in understanding this.
Romans 8:26 NET In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we donot know how we should pray, but the Spirithimself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes onbehalf of the saints according to Gods will.
The Spirit intercedes for us in prayer. Whenwe don‟t know what to say, the Spirit does.When we just can‟t find the words, the Spirit does. When our souls are hurting and we don‟t know why or what to ask, the Spirit does.
3. Notice WHO Christians are to pray…FOR.“For all the saints.” Christians are to pray for one another. Christians are to pray for the church. Is this church on your prayer list? I‟ve never been real disciplined about prayer, I always found time to pray, but didn‟t discipline myself like I do these days.I‟ve started a list of prayer needs to help me remember what and who I need to pray about.
Have you done this? We need to bereminded that the church should be high up there on our list! We need to be in prayerover our Elders, Deacons & preachers. We need to be in prayer over our members, especially those hurting or unable to be with us. We need to be inprayer over the ministry of this church; what we‟re trying to do for God.
4. Finally, Paul calls on the Christians there at Ephesus to pray for him. I can understand that! Paul‟s in quite a circumstance! Remember back in 3:1 he‟stold us, For this reason I, Paul, the prisonerof Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — Ephesians 3:1 NET
While he is in Roman custody, he doesn‟t consider himself a prisoner of Rome or of Caesar, but of Christ! It is for the sake of Christ and spreading the good news of Christ that he‟s been thrown in jail! But, hedoesn‟t pray for what I‟d expect him to pray.
I know that if I was in that circumstance I‟d be praying for release! I‟d be praying for rescue! I‟d be praying for protection! I think its worth noting that the prayers herequested were for NONE of those things.
19 Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak — that Imay confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.
Paul‟s request was for courage so that he might fearlessly continue preaching thegospel! Isn‟t that amazing? Paul is a Roman prisoner as a direct result of his preaching the gospel and all he can think about is preaching the gospel. He doesn‟t ask for prayers of protection or prayers of comfort or prayers for release, but prayers for the courage to stand firm and continue preaching the good news!
That‟s encouraging! How committed are WE to that task? What if we found ourselves imprisoned for our beliefs? Would we still proclaim the good news? What if we found ourselves at the wrong end of a revolver? Would we still proclaim the good news? What if we found ourselves beaten & tortured for the sake of Christ? Would we still proclaim the good news?
Well, we catch a glimpse of the 1st century world in which Paul lived in his final greetings. 21 Tychicus, my dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make everything known to you, so that you too may knowabout my circumstances, how I am doing. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know ourcircumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.
23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, andlove with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all of those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. Even the Apostle Paul needed friends. Tychicus is mentioned first in Acts as afriend of Paul‟s and then shows up again in four of Paul‟s letters.
Perhaps he is the courier for this letter, hand-delivering it to the church at Ephesus. Paul wants him to convey personally to them how he is doing and to encourage them. Again, even inprison, Paul‟s concern isn‟t for himself, but how he might encourage others. It‟s a typical final greeting for Paul. Paul wishes them the fullest blessings of life. Peace… & Grace be with all of those wholove our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
How would you describe your prayer life?flourishing or floundering? always or almost never? Constant or erratic? Your car is hurtling on the rain slick road sideways toward an oncoming car at 50 mph! What do you do? You pray! But whatdo you do when the weather is nice and the drive is peaceful?
The doctor comes into your exam room with the test results and a worried frown on his face. What do you do? You pray! But what do you do at your work involved in the mundane everyday responsibilities of your job?
You‟re in the delivery room and the doctorlooks at you and says, “It‟s a boy!” or “It‟s a girl!” What do you do? You thank God! But what do you do when the diaper has to bechanged or the little booger has woken you up in the middle of the night? I believe that so goes your prayer-life, so goes your relationship with God. How‟s yours?
This is a call to pray, to pray powerfully, topray specifically and to pray constantly! Notjust when the chips are down; not just when all else fails; not just when you don‟t have anywhere else to turn, but pray always, in every season. God is there listening, He has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us!
My prayer today is that if you don‟t knowChrist, you won‟t leave here without finding out more about him.And if you are in need of prayer, that you‟d let that be known so that your brothers &sisters in Christ can be an encouragement to you through their prayers. Won‟t you, during the singing of this invitation song?
We‟re not finished learning from the Church in Ephesus. There is more written to & about the Church in Ephesus. Did you know there is another letter written to the Church in Ephesus?Your homework for next week is to find another letter to the Church in Ephesus & find other passages about problems in Ephesus. If you know where these passages are located keepit to yourself! Let others have the experience of searching the Scriptures.