You know I talk a lot about prayer and our need for prayerful study of God’s Word. Well, the last few days I have had a few issues that I have really struggled with in my prayer life and even this morning it was a struggle. I prayed for these folks and I prayed for guidance. But in it all I still was struggling.
I kind of have this order after I pray that I go through email and check out devotionals I receive and clean up the junk email and do a cursory review of a couple sites and then I get into my study. Today. That email review turned up a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Praying for all the saints. I fired up the YouTube video and I listened to it as I read some of my other study text, but before long I was listening to the sermon and following it in my Bible. It centered around Ephesians 6:18-20
As I listened I began to think about the content of chapter 6 from beginning to end. I also thought about how often God told us to put others before ourselves and this whole struggle I was beginning to change. I started with Ephesians 6:10
I read verses 10 through 13 and looked at what God was revealing through Paul. It was some pretty powerful stuff. It did not say anything about standing alone or relying on my own strength. He said, “be strong in the Lord.” I had to read the passage a few times.
Ephesians 6:10-13 (ESV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Now reading that over and over I see the use of “you” a lot and I do take this as a personal note and command but I must remember that Paul was speaking to the Church at Ephesus; one body with many members. For the Church to stand against the onslaught of the adversary each member of the body had to put on this armor of God. I read through the description of the Armor and came to verses 18-20
Ephesians 6:18-20 (ESV)
I read verses 18 through 20 and meditated on what Dr. Lloyd-Jones had said and I was struck by something I had not considered before. This passage is very powerful.
Ephesians 6:18-20 (ESV)
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
As I read this passage I realized that this prayer was not about me, but this prayer was for strength for the body of the Church to stand against the adversary. We put on that whole armor of God and we pray, not only for ourselves but all the saints, and not only the saints, but for Paul.
I pondered these prayers and got thinking that Paul was not a good speaker. He was kind of clumsy so he asked the Ephesians for help that he might preach the Gospel boldly, and the prayers were answered in Ephesus. In Act 20 Paul speaks of his preaching to the elders in Ephesus.
Acts 20:19-27 (ESV)
19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
In this section of Acts as he speaks to the Elders he warns that they must keep a close eye on the flock for wolves will come to destroy them and as I read this warning I was drawn back to Ephesians 6:18
How could I know anything without God’s Word? Which step would I take first? Which way would I turn? But with it, the Word is a lamp to my feet. All through the Word God encourages us to pray for each other, and not only those in trials but all members of the body that they may stand strong.
I think of James
James 5:16 (ESV)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
I think of Daniel 9 and his prayer for Israel, a prayer of repentance and a prayer for forgiveness. It was so powerful the angel Gabriel brought his answer.
I think of John 17 when Jesus was about to be crucified and he prayed for Israel and for all of us that believe.
One thing that has been gnawing at me as I considered this is Chapter 42 in Job. Job repents and at the direction of God, prays for his friends and they are forgiven and he is restored. The Lord revealed everyone’s needs in this chapter and the result. What an example that is.
The part that gets me is God through Paul asks us to pray for all saints, our brothers, and sisters in Christ. We do not know each one need but based on the example of Job we can see what happens when a repentant man prays for his friends, and James reminds us in James 5:16 above
I am overwhelmed as I meditate on this and see how God works through these prayers for both those that are praying and those that are prayed for. It is like a bond or strong cord uniting us with God and His purpose.
Father, help me pray with boldness for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let my prayers in the Spirit be focused on your desires for the body of the Church and strengthen us all to truly stand united against the adversary.
Lord fill our preacher’s hearts with the boldness that they teach the whole Word of God leaving nothing out and please fill our hearts with the courage to do the same when we share the Gospel with others.
All this I pray in the name of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!