Prayer is so awesome that if I ever backslide I probably will still pray regularly after 6 months of not reading my Bible. Prayer is absolutely essential for the Christian, because Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Prayer is how we talk to God, and no relationship will be very strong without talking to the person we are trying to have a relationship with. Martin Luther said, “to be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Many Christians sadly never really get to enjoy a relationship with God because they never talk to God.
Ephesians lays out one of the clearest outlines in the Bible for what prayer is. In this article I will explain how we can all have can have the amazing conversational life with God that he intends for us. Ephesians 6:18-19 says,
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,”
The first secret to prayer is just actually doing it, it’s amazing how little Christians pray. Consider this 1 hour in prayer is only 4% of your day, and yet how many Christians do you know who spend an hour a day in prayer. According to the Nielsen Media Research Organization the average American spends 4 hours and 13 minutes a day watching tv, but according to the Barna Group the average American Christian spends 4 minutes a day in prayer.
We have no problem watching a 3 hour movie, but to pray for even a few minutes is such a chore. The thing to remember is that prayer is just talking to God its a conversation just like any other we have, and so we can talk to God all day even if its just in our hearts. So today try to spend more time talking to your heavenly Daddy, and don’t just talk, but pause and listen to what He is saying back.
With all Prayer
Prayer is a whole lot more then just asking for stuff, and so Paul tells us to use all kinds of prayer. Lets think about some of the different kinds of prayer.
Worship- Worship comes from the old english word worthship, and simply means ascribing worth to God. In worship we adore God, and praise His attributes, His Character, His Actions etc. For instance we might praise God for His holiness, or His creation, His work in someones life, His provision for us etc. Worship can be inspired by looking at his creation thus making praying outside a great idea. It can also be inspired by studying God’s attributes in the Bible, or by meditating on His actions in your life, and others lives.
Confession- Confession is also an essential part of prayer. Christians with unconfessed sin in their lives don’t have clear lines of communication with God. All good relationships require openess, and willingness to confess wrong our relationship with God is no different.
Thanksgiving- James tells us that every good, and perfect gift comes from God, because God is our daddy He loves giving us good things. Like any daddy He likes it when His children are thankful for His provision. So start thanking God for everything in your life, thank Him when things are going good in your opinion Hosea says pray for the rain when it already raining. Thank Him when things are going bad in your opinion, the Bible says in everything give thanks. You see God is perfectly good, and is working all things together for god for you (Romans 8:28). So whether it looks good or not you must trust that it is all good, it is all a perfect gift, and thank God for it.
Intercession- Intercession is like supplication, but instead of our own needs we are asking God to move on behalf of others. Intercession is one of the most unselfish forms of prayer, and certainly the most hated by Satan.
Supplication is the specific part of prayer called petition this is the most engaged in part of prayer for most Christians this is asking God for your needs to be met. Prayer can incorporate worship, praise, and thanks giving but supplication is limited to petition or asking.
Supplication involves heart attitude the meaning of the word supplicate has the sense of bending the knees, or humbly, but passionately entreating an authority for a specific request. Our heart attitude, and passion is essential when we are praying James 5 tells us, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.The definite article “the” tell us this a specific kind of prayer that moves the heart of God. Another way to say this the The heartfelt, and passionate prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available dynamic in its working. How much passion is in your praying? The Bible full of examples of particular needs met after passionate supplication to God.
In the Spirit- The next issue that Paul addresses for effective prayer is praying in the Spirit. Now this phrase may have a negative connotation for you because of certain denominations slant on this. Let me say this is not “praying in tongues” in fact it often does not involve language at all. Like anything in the Christian life you our either in the flesh, or in the Spirit, and the difference has eternal ramifications. So praying in the Spirit is just really saying God is in charge of my prayer life, it is a prayer that is God led, God inspired, God empowered, and thus God answered.
A great place to start for a deeper understanding of this truth is Romans 8:26 which says,
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Before I explain the meaning of this verse it may be helpful to show what it looks like in the greek. This verse could be thus stated, In the same way the Spirit empowers our inability to produce results: because we do not what to pray for as we should but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us using the heart ramblings we have trouble expressing.
Lets look at this phrase by phrase,
the Spirit empowers our inability to produce results-
You see the prayer made from our flesh just like anything else done in the flesh fails to produce results everytime. But thanks be to God who has provided us a partner to take our feeble efforts, and produce prayers that move the heart of God, and produce results every time.
because we do not what to pray for as we should-
The “we” of this verse includes the Apostle Paul he said simply I don’t know what to pray for. If Paul didn’t know what to pray for we can be confident that we have no idea what to pray for. Well why is this important you ask? 1 John 5:14 says, that if we pray things according to the will of God number one God will hear us, and number two he will give us the answer to our prayer.
So if you want you prayers answered you better determine what is the will of God, but hoew does one determine the will of God? There are two ways number one the word of God that is the will of God cover to cover, number two God himself can reveal through the Spirit the will of God. So by all means use scripture when you are praying, and by all means ask the Holy Spirit what should I pray for. The prayer that the Holy Spirit guides you to pray is the prayer God answers everytime. So sometimes put away the sacred Santa, er, I mean prayer list, and ask God what, or who should I pray for today, and shutup and actually listen to what he has to say. Two way communication almost sounds like a relationship to me.
the Spirit himself makes intercession for us using the heart ramblings we have trouble expressing-
Have you ever had the feeling that you desperately needed Gods help, but you can’t quite put into words what you are feeling. This can be so frustrating especially when you feel like if you don’t get this expressed right God will never answer. Never fear once again the Holy Spirit is here He can take the ramblings that we have trouble expressing, and turn them into beautiful symphonies of prayer that are music to God’s ears. In fact you don’t even have to say words to get your prayers answered, and often thats the best thing you can do shutup and just lift your heart to God, John Bunyan said, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
We have so many Christians rattling off demands to God like an auctioneer when they should be listening to His heart. Saying what should I pray for, when should I pray, how long should I pray, and how should I pray. Lets stop focusing on lists, and words, and methods in prayer, and starting letting God lead in the prayer closet.
Watching thereunto- Watching is an old English word for our word awake, or wakefullness. Etymonline.com says, O.E. wæcce “a watching,” from wæccan (see watch (v.)). Sense of “sentinel” is recorded from c.1300; that of “person or group officially patroling a town (esp. at night) to keep order, etc.” is first recorded 1539. Sense of “period into which a night was divided in ancient times” translates L. vigilia.
Basically it means praying instead of going asleep. Jesus said to his disciples in His crucial last hours on this earth, “what could ye not watch (be awake, and pray) with me one hour, watch, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. Have you ever found yourself awakened in the middle of the night suddenly, or found yourself unable to go to sleep at night?
Let me assure that God wants you to sleep as a normal rule the Bible says, “He gives his beloved sleep”, but make no mistake if God is keeping you up there is a reason. In the Bible there are two Greek words for time Chronos time that is a generic or uncertain time then their is Kairos time which is God perfect or opportune time for something. God wants to involve his perfect timing on this earth for major events, and his omniscient Spirit will take your sleep occasionaly to involve you in His plan. That’s what Jesus was saying to His disciples, “boys were coming to a Kairos moment in history, and I want you to partner with me in bring it to pass through be awake, and praying.
Can you believe it? God almighty wants to partner with you in key moments in history to bring his will to pass by your prayers! So next time you can’t sleep don’t take a vallum, don’t count sheep say, “OK Lord I’m here what, or who would you have me pray for.” God in His sovereignty might know that your teenage daughter snuck out, and is about to lose her purity, or that a missionary is about to lose their life hald way around the world. Maybe he is about to do something great in the political arena, or wants to give you a breakthrough in health, or finances. Dear friend don’t attribute your sleeplessness to natural causes God is saying to you, “Son or daughter I wan’t to partner with you in prayer.” Let us begin to ask God what he would have us pray for, and we will see awesome things come to pass.
With all perserverance- A simple definition of perserverance is don’t give up till you get what your after. In prayer so many times we don’t see answers because we stop short of the goal line, and say, “oh yah I tried that prayer thing it doesn’t work.” Well of course it doesn’t work you’re a quitter. The old timers called perserverance “praying through” us new timers don’t call it anything because we give up if God doesn’t answer immediately.
You say well if God is our Father, and wants to bless us why doesn’t he answer immediatley every time. Well there are at least four answers to that question. The first is that we are in a battle, and as you “war on your knees” there is realities going on in the heavenlies that you can’t see. For instance when Daniel was praying for God to release Israel back to their homeland he had to pray for 21 days to get the answer. After 21 days an angel appeared and said, “Daniel your prayer was answered on day one, but a demonic principality resisted me for these 21 days” We wouldn’t have got our answer because we have quit in un belief before the 21 days was over. Make no mistake God will not work in theaters of unbelief.
The second reason God waits to answer is that sometimes this is the only way he ever hears from us is when we need something. You see God is our daddy, and if he has to delay an answer to hear from His kids make no mistake He will. The third reason is that God won’t give us something that will hurt us, or were not ready for you. So you ask God for financial prosperity, and then God allows tragedy in your life. So you say to God, “I asked for money, and you gave me trial!” God is inevitably saying back to you, “The moneys coming, but you can’t handle yet so I’m sending a trial to mature you so you can have your request without it destroying your faith.”
The fourth reason God doesn’t answer is that He’s God! He is sovereign he knows the perfect Kairos time to bring something to pass. Will you keep praying, or is God some cosmic Santa Clause, and when you don’t get your “toy” in your time you’ll say I dont’ believe in Santa Clause anymore.
In closing on perserverance an illustration from my Gramma is appropriate. When her son was in his twenties, and with out Christ he enlisted to the Vietnam War. She asked her pastor what can I do to see my son saved. He gave her an action plan which included pray for 1 hour a day till he’s saved. So she did year 1 nothing, year 2 nothing, year 3 nothing, 10 long years every day 1 hour nothing. Then at the end of 10 years God told my uncle its the getting saved time, or its the dying time, your choice. My uncle pulled his car over, accepted Christ, and was greatly used of God for many years. So don’t don’t go take a sleeping pill, and don’t give up on God in your prayer.
Intercession is an area of prayer that is essential to prayer but often neglected by modern Christians. What is intercession you may ask? Webster’s dictionary defines it as,
A. Intercede – (Latin intercedo: inter – between; ado – to go; literally, to
pass between) to act between parties with a view to reconcile those who
differ or contend; to plead in favor of another; to interpose, to mediate
or make intercession.
B. Mediate – being between two extremes; to interpose between parties at
variance with a view to reconciliation; to mediate a peace.
C. Mediation – “entreaty for another – intercession.”
From this we gather that we as Christians have the awesome privilege of acting as an intermediary between two parties, literally a go between. For lost people you can be the go between begging for their salvation. Paul mentions “All Saints” for saved people you can be a go between asking grace for them even when they are not in a place where they would ask themselves. He also mentions “for me” that is to say our spiritual authority they are constantly under attack, and we can be part of the battle on their behalf. Now lets look at how one of the primary words for intercession is used in the Bible.
The Hebrew word for intercession is paga, which is only translated a few times as intercession in the Old Testament. Yet, when you compare the many different pictures, words, and interpretations of the word paga, you glean many wonderful understandings of what it means to intercede. Paga can mean to meet, to fall upon, attack, strike down, cut down, to strike the mark, laid upon.
To meet – In the context of a meeting intercession can take two paths a meeting with God for the purpose of reconciliation, or a meeting with the enemy as on the battle field. The first path we are meeting with the Lord in an intimate place, we are inquiring of the Lord on behalf of another. Make know mistake about it realities of a persons situation can radically altered in the heavenlies as we meet with God on their behalf. It is in these meetings that God shows us supernatural strategies for reaching the person we are interceding with. Stop chasing that person around, and fretting, and begging them to do right, and start interceding for them.
The second aspect of meeting is that we often meet the powers of darkness in our intercession, because satan is trying to destroy the same people you are interceding for. Dutch Sheets said in his book Intercessory Prayer, “ I am saying, however, that the word for “MEET” is our Hebrew word translated “Intercession”, [PAGA]. Other Hebrew words could have been used, but his one was chosen partly because it often has a very violent connotation. In fact, Paga is frequently a battlefield term.
Keep in mind that preceding Ephesians 6:18 we have a whole chapter dedicated to suiting up a soldier for all out battle with the forces of darkness. Then in verse 18 we ask, “where is this battle we have prepared for”, to which Paul replies, “its on your knees!” You see all spiritual battles our won on our knees.
To fall upon, attack, strike down, cut down – The word paga is used in 1 Sam. 22:11-19 and 2 Sam. 1:11-16 of strike down. Intercession is the readiness of a soldier to fall upon or attack the
enemy at the command of his lord, striking and cutting him down! We must not only meet the enemy we must strike down the enemy. We can do this by pleading the Blood of Jesus Christ, praising God for the victory, and commanding the enemy to depart in the Name of Jesus.
To strike the mark – Job 36:32.
Intercession releases the flashing forth of His glory/lightening, directing it to the desired situation and allowing it to strike the mark. By God’s working of grace, our divine “Helper” is standing by, ready to aid us in our intercession, moving us from the natural to the supernatural, from finite ability to infinite ability, taking hold of situations with us so as to accomplish the will of God. Romans 8:26 tells us by ourselves we have an inability to produce results in prayer, or strike the mark, but the Holy Spirit takes hold of situations together with us against the enemy allowing us with His help to have maximum impact on satan’s kingdom.
Laid upon – In Isaiah 53:6 our sins are Paga’d (laid upon) Jesus Christ. Intercession
reached its fullest and most profound expression when our sins were “laid upon” Jesus. Jesus was able to fully identify with us, having the totality of our condition placed upon Himself; then as the scapegoat, He carried it far away.
This is the highest form of intercession we can enter into when we have the heart of God for others. Their sin grieves us to the point of groaning, and we intercede with heaviness, and tears that they may repent.
So let us take up the ministry of being a go between in prayer to God on behalf of other believers, and our spiritual authorities. Without intercessors many more soldiers will be wounded in battle than need to be.