“…with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:18–20
The Apostle has one more directive for the Christian warrior: “Pray at all seasons in the Spirit.” There was nothing in the military equipment of the Roman soldier that could serve as an object of comparison for this final counsel. Praying in the Spirit is too intimate an experience to profit from physical illustrations. What metaphor can express it?
“With all prayer,” writes Paul. That means all kinds of prayer—private prayers, family prayers, congregational prayers, vocal prayers, silent prayers. Paul urges us to keep our communion with God as unbroken as possible. When one manner of utterance is closed to us, find one that is open. Make use of every kind of prayer.
Pray perseveringly, steadily, not convulsively or sporadically. Take time for it. Devotional books bearing such titles as God’s Moment, Two Minutes with God, Pauses for the Pious, undoubtedly serve a good purpose. More are times when we have only a few moments for prayer. But the over-all impression given by such titles is not good. There are too many Christians who budget their time so poorly that they have only a few minutes a day for prayer. When we are too busy to pray, we are too busy!
Pray “in the Spirit.” Jude gives the sam e counsel: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (v. 20). “What does this mean? For one thing, it means that the Holy Spirit is to be acknowledged as our Divine Instructor in prayer. By the Word that he inspired he teaches us what things we are to ask for, and the times we are to ask for them. The prayer we pray is our own, but if it be uttered “in the Spirit” it is also his work. We supplicate, but it is the Spirit who supplies the light of his word and who generates the holy emotion by his indwelling. Hence, he, too, intercedes for us with those mysterious “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
To test the intensity of our praying let us ask whether we can remember what we prayed for yesterday. Can we remember ten minutes after prayer what we definitely asked of God? If our requests sit so lightly upon our own minds, dare we expect the Holy Spirit to take them seriously? Let us not rail at the unseen world for its apparent reticence and silence, until we have examined more closely our desires—not only their nature but their intensity. Such self-examination, honestly conducted, will make us more aware of the importance of keeping a little chapel in our souls, a pool of silence, a quiet retreat, where the time spent will not be spent begrudgingly. Here in this chapel, with the Holy Spirit as the Divine Custodian, we shall find the liabilities of life diminished, not by the reduction of the burden, but by the increase of power and resource.
“For all the saints,” writes Paul. On the church calendar of some denominations there is a day designated as “All Saints Day.” Paul reminds us that in the matter of prayer every day is All Saints Day for the Lord’s legions. However much it mayan occasion seem that we struggle alone, we are not in the struggle alone. In the Christian warfare there is fighting all along the line. Can it be that a saint of God elsewhere is being defeated today because we are not praying for him? Let us not forget our comrades in arms. Some of them are behind “curtains”—the Iron Curtain, the Bamboo Curtain. We are banded with them in the Soldiers of the Cross.
“And on my behalf,” adds Paul. The apostle was a prisoner in Rome, “an ambassador in chains.” He does not ask the church to pray for his liberation. Rather, he asks that grace may be supplied him so that even in prison he may preach the Gospel openly, as he ought to speak. He would have even his fetters speak for Christ.
Ten thousand times ten thousand In sparkling raiment bright, The armies of the ransomed saints Throng up the steeps of light. ‘Tis finished, all is finished Their fight with death and sin; Fling open wide the golden gates, And let the victors in!