18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Well, I'll be the first one to admit that I slack at prayer. I send God text messages. I rarely sit down and take time for meaningful communication. Not to say that you can't have meaningful communication while you do other things, because you can, but firing off little mini-prayers here and there during the day tends to not be two-way communication, and rarely do I bother to consider that because I'm busy. Bad, right? I know.
The Bible says to pray without ceasing, so I'm sure that because it also says to "be strong and do the work" along with many other passages to do with being diligent and faithful in our work, to our employers, etc. and so on, we are not to sit around all day doing nothing but praying. So that says to me that there is nothing wrong with praying while we shower, or do the dishes, or prepare meals, or drive somewhere. However, am I praying in the Spirit, on the alert for opportunities to demonstrate God's love to those around me, or praying for pastors, church leadership, missionaries, Operation Christmas Child, World Vision, our government, the teachers and principals of schools, etc?
Mark Driscoll says the following regarding these verses:
How’s your prayer life? You know what? If you don’t know you’re in war, you don’t feel like you need to listen to the commander in chief, and you don’t feel like you need to talk to him. Peacetime—you’re like, “What, I’m on vacation. What do I need to get orders for?”
This ain’t vacation, friends. This is war. If you know, you get up in the morning you’re like, “OK, I’m not going to work; I’m going to war. I’m not going to church; I’m going to war. I’m not going to school; I’m going to war.” First thing you’re going to do: call headquarters. “OK, what do I need to know today, and let me talk to you about what I’m heading into, and I need you to give me some directives here.”
Then you listen to the Holy Spirit. Primarily, he will bring to mind the word of God which he has written. “OK, now I’m ready to go. I know what to do. I’m connected to headquarters, and throughout the day, I’m checking in.
Imagine an army going to war without a communication plan. Imagine soldiers just being deployed in an enemy territory with no communication plan. Prayer is our communication plan. It’s how we talk to God; it’s how God talks to us. It’s how we tell him what’s going on, though he already knows, and it is the way that he gives directives to us.
How’s your prayer life?
He says, “Perseverance.” Perseverance. Four times in this section he uses the language of “stand.” So it’s, “Stand, stand, stand, stand.” A soldier needs to hold his post—right, soldiers? You plant your feet. You stand. You don’t say, “Oh, I feel like I should go to another post. I feel like I should have a—” No, no, no. Hold that line, right? Your king has sent you there to hold that line. Your job? Stand there. Your Community Group in your neighborhood, stand there. Whichever local church you’re in, stand there. Whichever ministry role you’re in, stand there, plant your feet. What we don’t need, Mars Hill, is twelve thousand generals. We need one general and twelve thousand faithful soldiers.
Paul’s final words. He says to pray for the leadership. “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.”
He’s in prison. I’d be shocked if I’m not eventually. The way culture is trending, to preach sin and repentance will soon be hate speech. I don’t know if it’ll happen in five years or fifty years. I would doubt preaching the gospel won’t get you in prison eventually if things continue the direction they are. “That I may declare it boldly”—boldly, boldly—“as I ought to speak.” Pray for me that I would not give up, that I would not back down, that I would not calm down, OK? Pray for our church.
Pray for your church. Pray for the church as a whole, regardless of denominations. Pray for the entire Christian body ~ that we will recognize that we are at war, and that we will stand and fight together in unity.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ephesians 6:21-24