Sunday Sermon – ‘The Victorious Christian Life’ – A Life of Prayer – Growing in Christ Series

Standard

audio

“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.” (Lk 22:31 CSB) These words should have frightened Peter. Satan wanted to attack him in such a way that his faith would be completely shaken and turned upside down. We know from scripture that Simon Peter was not the only person to ever do battle with the devil. So did Job, David, Paul and even our Lord Jesus. The truth is – the devil is after each of us. Peter described him as – “A roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” (see 1 Peter 5:8 CSB) As sure as the sun comes up each day, you can be sure that the devil will be after you.

It was because of this that the Apostle Paul wrote –“… be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) The only way we can resist the devil is by the power of God. Even Michael the archangel said to the Satan – “the Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)

Each and every day we must walk in the power of God’s strength. We must put on the whole armor of God. For the past several weeks we have been studying the various pieces of this spiritual armament. Today we will consider what is necessary in order for us to be clothed with this divine protection.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Prayer is the vital ingredient for appropriating to our lives the power of God. As I have studied and meditated over Paul’s words, it seems to me that he has three primary thoughts:

1) Our Attitude About Praying

2) Our Assistance in Praying

3) Our Advantage From Praying

I. Our Attitude About Praying

“Praying always with all prayer…”

A. Praying always

How much should we pray? Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, once exclaimed that he could not get by with less than two to three hours in prayer each morning. All I can say to that is – “Wow!” We know from reading the gospels that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer. There were some occasions when He arose very early in the morning to find a quiet place to pray and other times when He spent the whole night in prayer. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that we should ‘pray without ceasing.’  Should a Christian do nothing but spend their whole day in prayer?

1. Amount of praying–

I doubt that any of us have ever been guilty of spending too much time in prayer. However, quantity of prayer does not always guarantee quality of prayer. Jesus said –

Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

A few moments ago I referred to Martin Luther who spoke of spending two to three hours in prayer. Yet on another occasion Luther also said – “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” I have no doubt that Luther was a praying man, yet I have to wonder how many mornings he actually spent praying two to three hours.

2. Attitude about praying

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication…

Perhaps Paul was encouraging us to spend hours in prayer, or perhaps he was encouraging us to spend our life in prayer. I like how one person interpreted this passage – “A life of constant God consciousness.”

Many of you use the Internet. If you do, you know that the speed of your connection is very important. Years ago we started with dial-up which was sometimes as slow as the seven-year itch. But as technology has advanced, many of us have become familiar with what is often called – “Live-streaming.” Live-streaming refers to a connection that operates as fast and as smooth as real life.

A modern interpretation of Paul’s teaching on prayer would be to say that our relationship with God should be live-streaming. Walking and talking with God should be as natural to a believer as breathing.

B. About Everything and Everyone

1. About Everything

The Bible doesn’t tell us how long our prayers should be, but it does tell us how much our prayers should cover. In short – pray about everything.  Paul told the Philippians to worry about nothing, but to pray about everything. In todays passage Paul one important word twice. It’s the word ‘supplication.’

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

The word ‘prayer’ deals with all of our prayers in general. But the word ‘supplication’ refers to very specific prayers about very specific needs. One of the greatest mistakes we make in life is trying to do it all alone, without the help of anyone; especially God.

2. About Everyone

Paul tells us to pray about everything and for everyone.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication … for all saints;

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul encourages us to ‘bear one another’s burdens.’ I remember one occasion in my life when the Lord instructed me that I could pray for others when they can’t pray for themselves. Paul prayed for the Ephesians and pleaded with them to pray for him as well.

Ephesians 6:19 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, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

The church should be a community of spiritual support. We all need prayer and therefore we all need to be praying. The Bible also teaches us that ministry leaders should be praying for those under their leadership and church members should be praying for those leading them.

 II. Our Assistance in Praying

How important is prayer to God? In His, Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed us to ask and to keep on asking until we receive an answer. In addition, Jesus told several parables illustrating the importance of being persistent in our prayers. He told one of a widow that kept banging on the judge’s door until he came to her defense. He also to another parable about a man who went to his friend’s house at midnight and wouldn’t go home until the friend arose and gave him bread. Christ was not trying to teach us that prayer is beating down heaven’s doors, but that our need for God should be so great that we are not willing to settle for second best.

A. God’s Assistance in Prayer

In God’s mind, praying to Him is so important that He doesn’t leave it all up to us to do it alone. God Himself actually gets involved and assists us in our prayers.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Praying in the Spirit means that the Spirit guides us in what to pray, when to pray and how to pray. For instance, the Spirit may impress upon our heart a particular burden over which He wants us to pray. Or, as we are praying, He may speak to us words of scripture that will help us understand God’s will. In addition, the Spirit will give us strength to pray. Praying in the Spirit means to pray in agreement with the Spirit and by His strength and power.

III. Our Advantage from Praying

Why don’t we pray more than we do? Why don’t we live a lifestyle of constant communication with God? Could it be because we do not understand the advantage of praying?

Time will not allow us to fully explore all the advantages of praying. In short, let me list just three:

A. Through prayer – we find provision for living

Jesus told us to pray – ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Rather than worrying about life, we need to pray and ask for God’s provisions. “Lord, here is what I need today. Help me.”

 B. Through prayer – we find power for living

Perhaps the one area where I have sought to develop the most in recent days is my dependence upon God for the strength to live life. Paul began this discussion on victorious Christian living by instructing us-

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Paul used three different words for strength in this one verse.  Paul is saying to us – “Be empowered with the strength that can only come from God.” We cannot live the victorious Christian life without the power of God. Such power comes to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples – “Ye shall receive power (strength) after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” How did they receive such power? The Bible says that they spent the next ten days, primarily in prayer.

How do we find God’s strength for living? We do so through our prayer life.

C. Through prayer – we find protection

Spiritual protection against relentless Satan’s attacks is the primary thought in today’s passage. Jesus said to Peter, James and John –

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Desire is important, but desire alone is not enough. In our own strength, we are no match for the devil. Even Michael the archangel said to Satan – ‘The Lord rebuke thee.’ The way we clothe ourselves in the armor of God is by prayer. Note two things about a protective prayer life-

 1. ‘Watching’ in Prayer

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

The word ‘watching’ refers to an alertness, or more specifically – not sleeping. Is Paul talking about physical sleep? Is he saying – stay awake all night and pray? Jesus did, didn’t He?

But actually Paul is not talking about staying alert physically, but more importantly – spiritually. Regarding the spiritual fall of some, Jesus said –

Matthew 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

How were these men sleeping? They were sleeping spiritually. Scripture seems to indicate that the closer we come to the return of Christ, the more the tendency will be for many in the church to fall asleep.

2. ‘Persevering’ in Prayer

The word ‘perseverance’ means to not grow weary and faint. It refers to a spiritual steadfastness, even in the face of adversity.  One of my frequent prayers is – “Lord, give me the strength I need.”

CONCLUSION  –

It was reported that in one African village, where many came to know Christ, that many of the new converts would cut out a place in the jungle brush where they could spend time alone with God. Many of the Christians became so committed in their walk with the Lord that they wore a path to their prayer closet. But when a believer began to grow careless in their prayer life, grass could begin to grow in their path. As a result, fellow believers would admonish them by saying – “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”

Brother, is the grass growing on your path? Have you become careless in your spiritual walk? Have you abandoned your prayer closet? If so, today is a good day to begin again.

Comments are closed.