December 7, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 6)

Submitted by Sieun C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:18-24  

  • What was Apostle Paul’s view of prayer?

After explaining that we have armor as Christians to fight against the devil’s schemes (6:11-17), Paul says to pray at all times in the Spirit. Prayer was another weapon and armor needed in order to stand strong in the Lord, and Paul’s view of it was that there was no limitation or boundary and that it actually had an affect – he says with ALL prayer and supplication, at ALL times.

Several things hit me about what Paul’s view of prayer must have been. One is that there needed to be frequency. He said to pray at all times. It’s not bound by set prayer times, just before meals, other specific settings, but at all times we should pray. Maybe he saw in his life as he followed God that he needed prayer at all times, that along with the spiritual armor, it was constantly praying and relying on God that sustained him. Another thing that I see about his view of prayer is that he saw it as being done in the Spirit. It wasn’t just something Christians do in order to feel good, blindly hope that God would have caught our prayer amongst many and answer a few, or is just another religious practice, but God’s Spirit was involved and in prayer. In the letter to the Romans, Paul explains it as the Spirit even interceding in our prayers when we don’t know the exact words to say. The next thing I notice is that he says to pray with all prayer and supplication. This part strikes me because he doesn’t say to just pray about God’s will, he doesn’t say to just pray about spiritual things only, but that I can pray with all kinds of prayers and supplication. Maybe this was the secret to his growing depth in relationship with God, ability to continue walking with God despite life getting tougher and tougher – he prayed all prayers and supplication, whether about himself or others, whether it was good or bad, complaint or thanksgiving. And he was confident about prayer as well, that it would work, because he says here to pray for him that he would have words to preach boldly about the Gospel – because he knew it worked, he was confident about asking for prayer in his weakness.

  • Note the words “keep alert” and “all perseverance” in connection with prayer. What do these words reveal about prayer?

He says in order to pray to this end, need to keep alert and persevere in prayer. One thing this reveals is that prayer is not something that naturally comes to us, it’s not something that we keep in mind to do continually and at all times, it seems like we need to be pretty deliberate about praying, to be alert to all the situations in which we should pray. I find this to be really true, because apart from regular times I set aside to pray, my mind doesn’t naturally think or decide to pray to God throughout the day. There’s something about life and the rush of my day that wants to get me to just run through the day without considering prayer, even though I may be hurting, may desperately need to be trusting and leaning on God and His strength. But it’s when I keep alert and are deliberate to pray throughout the day when things come up, whether it’s asking for supplication during hard times or extra strength and grace for difficult times, this is when I experience closeness and strength from God. Another thing that is revealed is that sometimes the answer or the solution isn’t always immediate or clear, so I need to persevere in prayer. It’s not a one time magical thing, so it’s not necessarily about getting all my prayers and requests answered, but about relating to God and leaning on Him in all situations, regardless of whether the answer is immediate or not.

  • What did Apostle Paul ask the Ephesians to pray for, and how can I apply this in my life?

He told them to pray all kinds of prayer and for supplication. Basically, to pray for everything. The guarantee isn’t that it will all be answered and pan out the way I want it to, but that I am able to and that the Spirit will be in my prayers, listening, working actively, answering in some way. This is very applicable in my life because as I get older, I have more variety of things always crowding my day and my mind. It’s not just work and ministry anymore, but along with the increased concerns and burdens in each, but there’s also the daily ups and downs that come with raising children, running our household, with marriage, with work. And especially during busy seasons in ministry, it’s so easy to have little things pile up and become a huge knot inside my heart that won’t go away. To these things, I need to be alert and persevering in prayer. It doesn’t have to be just during the morning prayer times, during our “official” prayer meetings, but throughout the day, as different things come up, frustrations, burdens, tough times – I can pause and pray, knowing God receives all kinds of prayers and requests and that this isn’t something that He just tolerates. But rather, it’s part of the armor He has given me so that I can stand strong in Him. And through tough transitions in life, through painful growth pain moments, prayer is what’s going to anchor me and keep me sane and in His grace, rather than in my own abilities which often fall short and make me feel helpless or frustrated.

  • Reflect on Apostle Paul’s sense of his identity and mission. To what extent do I share in this sense of identity and mission?

Ultimately, Paul prayed and asked for prayer regarding the main focus and drama of his life – sharing and boldly proclaiming the Gospel. Yes, he says all prayer and supplication, but ultimately, the biggest thing in his life that caused him need for prayer came from his identity as an ambassador in chain for the Gospel. His weakness, his struggles, his requests for help, for aid from God, all came from the fact that he had to go out there and proclaim the Gospel to as many as possible, and the people he was bringing it to were difficult, the path and life of living like this was dangerous and fearful and unpredictable. So he says, pray in supplication for all the saints, and for me – we who are chained and living solely for the Gospel. To what extent do I share this? I think my prayers and what I pray about will show to what extent this is my mission. Of course I need to be authentic in what I pray about and what I ask for help in. But even midst personal difficulties, when I am genuinely able to pray, cry out, and intercede on behalf of others to whom I am trying to minister to and share the Gospel with, other saints who need intercessory prayer, it shows that my identity is as someone who is chained as an ambassador for the Gospel, not chained to just the drama of my own life and concerns. And this is what I should aim for. There are times when all I can see are my own daily hardships and needs, frustrations, and I know that God does listen when I pray. But I can imagine His delight when even midst these times, my heart is genuinely focused and praying on behalf of the ones He is reaching out to, for other saints who are chained to the Gospel.

Submitted by Ander C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:18-24

  • What was Apostle Paul’s view of prayer?

Apostle Paul’s view of prayer was that it was to be done “at all times” so it is a universal practice for all people and thus it was of great importance. Prayer was the one thing that anyone could do and it was to be done before any kind of ministry. Apostle Paul stresses the importance of prayer because it is the one thing that every Christian can do. For anyone who is a follower of Christ they need not talent, not money, or resources to move God’s ministry but any person can and is able to pray.

  • Note the words “keep alert” and “all perseverance” in connection with prayer. What do these words reveal about prayer?

The words “keep alert” and “all perseverance” in connection with prayer reveals that prayer is very connected to the work of the Lord. These words reveal that prayer is not to be taken lightly. The words “perseverance” and “keep alert” denote that prayer is something to be done with conscious effort and not something that we can just do casually. It is something that must be done with purpose and with intent. This reveals that it’s a practice that to be done by everyone and to “keep alert” means that we are to know what we are praying about and praying for. It’s an integral part of God’s work and ministry. Ministry is not just going out to the world and preaching the gospel to them. But it is to be led and sustained by prayer in the Spirit.

  • What did Apostle Paul ask the Ephesians to pray for, and how can I apply this in my life?

What Apostle Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him to have the words to say and to be able to open his mouth and be bold “to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”

How I can apply this in my life is to pray this prayer for myself. I need to pray for boldness as I reach out to and minister to students on the college campus. To pray that my insecurities would not keep me from urging my students to take their faith more seriously, from being a voice of truth, or from helping them to deepen in their understanding of Christ. I need to pray for boldness because I am someone who dislikes any kind of drama, and any kind of relational tension. I’m someone who would rather just pretend everything is okay for the sake of my own emotional comfort. As a minister I want people to like me and I want to be someone people can easily get along with. But the truth of the matter is, the gospel is so much greater than me. My ego is something that I have to stop protecting. Apostle Paul’s heart for people is incredible for he was in chains and yet his prayer request is that he could be bold to proclaim this message of the gospel. That’s the heart that I pray I can have today, the heart of love and willingness to do what it takes to bring them the gospel. So I need to pray that when those difficult conversations come, I must pray for boldness to be able to correct them, dig a bit deeper into their lives, and ask the follow up questions. Sure its vulnerable and both emotionally and mentally taxing but that’s why I need to pray that God will give me this confidence and boldness to be ready to face rejection, people slandering me, disliking me, looking down on me because of the gospel.

  • Reflect on Apostle Paul’s sense of his identity and mission. To what extent do I share in this sense of identity and mission?

In asking the Ephesians to pray for him, Apostle Paul indicates to me how humble of a man he was. His act of asking for prayer from others in the church shows his reliance on them. For me, a very independent, proud and self-sufficient person this is something I must learn from today.

Apostle Paul’s identity and mission were very clear for him. The fact that he was in chains didn’t matter for he doesn’t ask them to pray he would be freed but he asks them to pray that the gospel would be boldly proclaimed. In fact he goes on to call himself an ambassador in chains but that doesn’t matter as much as the gospel being preached. I’m reminded today as I think about this picture of Apostle Paul who is totally centered on Christ, it is the life that I pray that I can one day live out.

I wish I could say that I share this sense of identity and mission in my life to such an extent. The truth is that my sense of identity and mission often revolves around myself. I’m so ashamed as I think about the Christ centered identity of Apostle Paul compared to my life where I’m daily having to struggle with myself in order to place God at the center of my life. This tells me that I am in need of the prayers of my leaders, peers, and my church that much more. In order to not lose sight of my identity as a minister, an apostle, a slave for Christ I know that I need to keep on being faithful in ministry. I do want to sometimes stop, take a break from it all when things get difficult; when I’m struggling but I know that I cannot stop because I will lose this sense of identity and mission in my life, the identity and mission that has given me my life’s purpose and meaning. So I although I am ashamed again to see that I’m such a selfish, proud and self centered person I am encouraged to keep on pushing ahead and to embrace my identity as a minister. My prayer is that I can get to the point where God is rooted and fully center in my life, where I can be in chains and yet see my role as an ambassador Christ as my identity.

Personal Prayer

Heavenly Father thank you for challenging me through the life of Apostle Paul. God, I want to pray as he prays asking for help, for wisdom, for the words to say and for the boldness to proclaim the gospel. Paul doesn’t just ask that he can live out the gospel but that he can be a proclaimer of it. So God I pray this same prayer that you would help me not give into my pride, my insecurities, my sinful desires, but live consciously and purposely with the identity that I am a minster of the gospel in mind. I confess and repent for my self-centered ways of wanting to be emotionally comfortable, for not loving and being faithful to those you have placed in my life today. God, I ask that you protect me, that I would constantly lean on you and I pray that I can humble myself daily to embrace this identity as a minister you have planned and envisioned for me since the beginning.

Submitted by Myra C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:18-24

  • What was Apostle Paul’s view of prayer?

Apostle Paul’s view of prayer was that we needed prayer at all times with all kinds of prayer and supplication. This shows just how dependent he was on prayer in terms of daily life, struggles, needs, and all things. Moreover it shows that he was just constantly praying as he was praying in all circumstances at all times. In the previous verses, Apostle Paul had talked about needing to put on the armor of God in light of the reality of the spiritual battle and prayer is how we are called to engage in that spiritual battle.

As I see this picture of Apostle Paul’s view on prayer, I definitely need to grow in this kind desire and dependence on prayer. I don’t pray as often as I should because I can have the mentality that I am okay or don’t need to pray. When I am over-confident and things are going well, prayer isn’t on the forefront of my mind or what I turn to. Often times only when things are hard and I am at wit’s end do I end up crying out in prayer and turning to God. This is a misunderstanding of how to live Christian life especially when the fact that I am a sinner. Over years, I have learned to grow in dependence on prayer as I see that God is the one who changes hearts. I can plant the seeds and water it but it is God who makes the seed grow into a plant. Moreover, genuine prayer has helped me to grow in heart and burden for people even when I might not have initially felt that way. I cannot fight this battle with my own power, wisdom, and strength. Apostle Paul’s dependence on prayer shows me his clear understanding of his identity as a sinner and need and desperateness for God.

  • Note the words “keep alert” and “all perseverance” in connection with prayer. What do these words reveal about prayer?

Apostle Paul calls us to keep alert and persevere in prayer because it is hard. Prayer takes discipline and focus and heart. In order to really pray and burden for people, I cannot merely be praying mindlessly, listlessly, or keep repeating mindless phrases. Also, I need to remember to pray for people and know what to pray about. It takes hard work because I am engaged in spiritual battle for my own sake as well as others. There are high stakes involved. Moreover, it takes perseverance because my prayers might not be answered right away but can take time and patience on my end. The reality is that Satan will try anything to hinder me from engaging in this battle and distract or fill me with all kinds discouragements in order to prevent me from praying. I need to persevere to pray despite my laziness, distractions, etc.

  • What did Apostle Paul ask the Ephesians to pray for, and how can I apply this in my life?

Apostle Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for supplication for all the saints as well as prayer for himself so that he could speak boldly to proclaim the gospel. This means praying for other Christians and for zealousness for the gospel to be preached. I can and need to pray for myself but because of this spiritual battle, I am also called to pray for other Christians in my life. As I think about all my brothers and sisters who have gone on church plants, I am obligated to pray for them and to be faithful in this way, knowing that we are the sending body. It’s not just the team that goes on the church plant that does all the work. Even though they might be far away, I can keep them close to my heart as well as engage in spiritual battle with them through prayer. Even though I haven’t met many students in Taiwan, as I was listening to the Thanksigiving video for Taiwan, I felt a strong sense of ownership and bond with students I had never met because I had been praying for prayer requests or events like Camp Blue, etc. This means being diligent and faithful in praying for them and being proactive in remembering people and praying for them.

Moreover, I need to pray for zealousness and boldness to preach the gospel. I personally have been praying this for myself. Although I have been serving and am dutiful, I find that my heart can get used to the routine of Christian life and even ministry. But I never want to get comfortable where I am or stagnant, but that I would be consumed by zealousness for God’s word and to preach it with confidence and boldness. Apostle Paul could have asked for many different kinds of prayer requests such as his needs, his imprisonment and struggles, etc. Instead the one thing he asks for is for the words and to be able to boldly proclaim the gospel. More important than physical needs is his mission to preach the gospel boldly. Even in prison, it is all about the gospel. This is his identity and mission and what he’s all about. Although I have grown in my identity as a minister, I have been praying for this kind of zealousness and boldness in my own walk with God as I see my time as short and my main mission in life to share this amazing news.

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