The Breadth of Prayer: Ephesians 6:18

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The Apostle Paul in this verse is expanding our perspective to prayer. The phrase that translates in the New International Version, “on all occasions” comes from the Greek word “panti” which is an all-encompassing word that embraces everything, including the smallest and most minute details.[1] The last word in this Greek phrase is the word “Kairo”, the word for time and seasons. When all these words are used together in one phrase (en panti kairo) as in Ephesians 6:18, they could more accurately be translated at every occasion.[2]

The verse goes further to state that we are to pray “with all prayer.” This phrase is taken from the Greek phrase “dia pases proseuches” and would be better translated “with all kinds of prayer.”[3] With all the challenges of life that we face it only makes sense that we need to have the capacity to pray a variety of prayers.

The Apostle Paul expands the breadth of our prayer by stating that we should “Keep on praying for all of the Lord’s people.” Some years ago I remember John Maxwell declaring, “That if you want to have break through a problem in your own life pray for somebody else that has the same problem.” This statement rings with truth but I also think in Paul’s ecclesiology our relationship as a part of the Church is not relegated to a location but rather it is a broader community. Our tendency is to diagnose the issues that people struggle with rather than pray for them.

A transliteration of this verse is:

“Prayer is an ongoing conversation; praying in the spirit includes every form of prayer, whether it be a prayer of request or a prayer of thanksgiving, or worship or interceding for all to realize their saintly innocence. Oh, and remember, you do not have to do all the talking! Always be attentive to the voice of the Spirit.”[4]

No matter how gifted or skilled you may be, or how bold and courageous you think you are, you simply cannot maintain a victorious position in life apart from prayer.

  1. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity that this world is enemy-occupied territory and that Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. And it is primarily through prayer that much of this sabotage takes place. Prayer is how we spiritually fight back against the enemy. “Prayer is fundamentally a warfare activity.

 

Gordon Fee when giving his thoughts on this verse interprets in the context of the Apostle Paul’s use of the phrase “pray in the spirit.”  Her goes onto state, “Perhaps we should note that the feeble prayers of God’s people, spoken in their own strength and often in desperation, while heard on high, are surely not the stuff of “routing the foe.” It is because we do not know how to pray as we ought, we need to lean more heavily on “praying in/by the Spirit,”[5] It is important that we understand this phrase that it does not define prayer as our cry of desperation or our “grocery list” of requests that we bring before our heavenly Abba; prayer is an activity inspired by God himself., through his Holy Spirit. It is God siding with his people and, by his own empowering presence, the Spirit of God himself bringing forth prayer that is in keeping with God’s will and his ways.[6] There is nothing more in the same rhythm as the heartbeat of God than to pray for his people.

 

Praying for God’s people globally, in the Spirit does five things for us:

 

  1. It connects us with the global Mission of God that allows us to be connected with His Church. We are not alone but rather we are a part of this agency of the kingdom of God called the Church that is the force of reconciliation in our world.
  2. It breaks a form of spiritual narcissism that does not allow me to look beyond me. My awe of the beauty of the body of Christ increases as as I pray for others.
  3. It reminds me that spiritual warfare is not simply an action done by individuals but it is a response of the Community of the King both locally and globally declaring that satanic forces cannot rule over a neighborhood or a city of a region.
  4. It gives focus to the real enemy and that is not other believers or churches. We are all on the same team.
  5. Finally, it increases my spiritual empathy to “weep those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice.”

 

Lord help me become more of a person who prays!


[1] (Renner 2003) p 117.

[2] (Renner 2003) p 117.

[3] (Renner 2003) p 117.

[4] (Toit 2012) p 189.

[5] (Fee 1994) p 731.

[6] (Fee 1994) p 731.


Works Cited

Fee, Gordon D. God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.

Renner, Rick. Sparkeling Gems from the Greek. Tulsa, Oaklahoma: Teach All Nations, 2003.

Toit, Francois du. Mirror Bible. Hermanus: Francois du Toit, 2012.

 

 

 

 

About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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