Praying always in the Spirit

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

In this verse, we see that there are four universals that are supposed to characterize our prayer life: we are to pray with all prayer, at all times, with all perseverance, and for all the saints.

All Prayer

There are different kinds of prayer. There are prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of deliverance, prayers of praise, prayers for direction, and so on. Our prayers ought to be as varied as our needs. The description of prayer by the term “supplication” points to prayer as that by which we address to God all our needs. It is a word which points in the direction of neediness, of lack, of want, and of entreating God to meet us at our point of need. We come to him, not as one who is “rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing” but as those who are “wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). The Psalmist described himself as “poor and needy” (Ps. 40:17), a fit description for you and me as well! The great thing is that, despite our poverty and emptiness, “yet the Lord thinketh upon me” and therefore we pray, “thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.”

Notice that the apostle describes this praying as praying “in the Spirit.” This points to the reality that prayer is not just a matter of turning prayer wheels. It is real communion with the living God. You are not going to really pray if you don’t believe that. But the point of the apostle is that this is exactly what prayer is for the Christian. Christ has provided a way into the very presence of God. “Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18). Prayer therefore is not something we do just to make ourselves feel better. It is not something we do to lower our blood pressure. No, it is talking to God in the most real and literal sense and knowing that God is listening to you.

All Times

In the KJV, the apostle opens by saying, “Praying always.” The text literally says, “on every occasion,” or, as some translate it, “at every opportunity.”[1] As the apostle says in another place, we are to “pray without ceasing” (1Thess. 5:17). I take this to mean that the Christian is to maintain an attitude of prayer throughout the day and throughout one’s life. There is never a moment when we do not need God, and therefore there is not a moment when we should not be able to pray. Theologian John Gill once described prayer as the breath of the regenerate man, and I think he is exactly right. Prayer is not just something we do at discrete points in time; it is an attitude that we ought to carry with us throughout the day.

All perseverance

Praying at every opportunity goes hand and hand with another part of Paul’s description of the how of prayer: “watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication.” This points to maintaining an earnest purpose for preserving prayer as a part of our lives. It means that we don’t give up when we don’t get what we pray for. It means that we don’t stop praying because we feel neglected by God. It means that we keep praying even when we don’t feel like it.

All saints

Finally, Paul says we are to pray for “all saints.” It has been pointed out many times over that the Lord’s Prayer is a communal prayer, not a prayer of the rugged individualist. In the same way, Paul reminds us that when we pray, we are to pray for all the saints. Of course this doesn’t mean every Christian in the world. But it does mean that we are to pray for those believers that are in the sphere of our influence and notice. Begin with your own home, and then work outward in increasing circles of people you are connected to. Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t pray for our own needs. But God doesn’t have us on this earth for ourselves; we are here to serve others. And part of that service to others is to pray for them.

So let us pray. With all prayer, at all times, with all perseverance, for all the saints. It’s an incredible privilege given to us through the redeeming work of God’s own Son. Therefore let us take every advantage of this amazing blessing!

By: Jeremiah Bass