Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
God is faithful. Never once has He left us. He will lead us on this journey. I have been wondering about the “pray in the Spirit” part of this verse. What does that mean? What does that look like? I know that is what I should do, but how do I do that?
In Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, he says that it is performed by having the heart, the soul and our spirit engaged in it. By this he means to pray by putting up a true heart, a right spirit without hypocrisy (see: how the Pharisee and the tax collector prayed), and in a spiritual way with a fervency and assistance from the Spirit.
What I love about the Spirit is that God knew how much help we would need. He knew how weak we were so He gave a part of the Trinity to us to be our Advocate and our Counselor. God reminds us through the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans 8:26 what the Spirit can do for us: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” I love that because how often do we feel like we need to talk to God or want to talk to God, but because of some hurt or pain or distress, we just don’t know what to say. Or we worry we will say the wrong thing. The Spirit helps us!
We also need to remember who we are praying to. We are praying to our Father. Our dad. God, your Father wants to talk with you. He knows what you need. He knows what your requests are, but He still wants to hear from you. He wants to have that relationship with you. God already knows our needs but the reason it is good for us to say our needs is because we admit we can’t do it. We admit that we need God to handle this situation. That is what is so special about what Christ says in the famous Lord’s Prayer, “…Give us this day our daily bread…” We confess that we can’t do it on our own. We submit to the perfect, holy, pleasing and good will of God. We admit we need what only He can give and only what He can do.
How many different verses does Jesus remind us that if we pray in the Spirit and for things of the Kingdom, that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Giver of all life, the Sustainer, the Healer will give us exactly what that is? As long as it is for the kingdom and as James says in the first chapter of his book, we need to pray expecting an answer and not be double minded.
God has a plan and may or may not answer our prayers but He knows best. Imagine some of the prayers you have lifted up for a second if they had been answered. Imagine how your life would be different. God knows what is right. Life will be tough. It will be hard. Many bad things are going to happen. But none of it surprises God. He is in charge. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus. But there is a God who wants to have a greater relationship with us. He wants our soul awakened to new heights so that we may see Him in new and powerful ways.
That is also why Paul reminds to always pray. On all occasions. With all different types of prayers and request. There are so many of us who the first thing we turn to is not God, we turn to a friend or a spouse. God wants to hear from us. Not just when we are in stressful situations when we have tried too hard and for too long to do it on our own. He wants to hear from us from the beginning. He wants us to turn these things over to Him. Only God can help us. This verse reminds us that we should be in constant communion with God. We should be constantly talking with God about everything. Take that time stuck in traffic to worship our God. Take the time waiting in the long line at the grocery store to ask God for patience and grace. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says, “Pray continually.” Again in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Paul reminds us of virtually the same thing in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” But Paul doesn’t stop there, he shows us a beautiful and priceless gift for our prayers in verse 7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” That is such a spectacular reminder.
This goes with the last part of the verse as well. Look how the NASB translates this: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Essentially, keep on praying and be persistent about it. Remember the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18. Be alert. Jesus reminded the disciples of that in Mark 13:33, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Be always on your guard and ready for prayer. Be ready with a spirit of prayer. Not just against the temptations of evil, but also for opportunities to do good and serve the Lord.
Think about for a moment the wonderful opportunity God has given us by allowing us to share in His kingdom by praying to Him for others, for situations, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for the spreading of the Gospel. Remember prayer isn’t just something to be said before you eat. Prayer is a beautiful opportunity to share with God who wants to hear from you. He is inviting you to conversation and given you the direct line. God will amaze you with what prayer can do. Ask Him to restore the joy of prayer. Ask Him for a greater prayer life. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Just talk with God. Oh what joy we have that we can talk to God. Thank you Jesus for removing that veil that we can come directly to the Father.