“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6.18
Pray. Be Alert. And keep on praying. It’s like Paul is saying, “pray – watch – now pray again.”
I grew up in a high steeple Methodist church where most prayers were repeated or recited. The prayers (and Scriptures) were printed in the big large bulletin and when the appropriate time came we would read or repeat after the pastor or liturgist. We would read only what was in bold or italics. Although what was written and thus read was tried and true, biblical and as far as I knew theologically sound, I was not always stirred by these prayers. And I am one who likes to be stirred! For some, reading pre-written prayers is helpful, but for me, I became bored and disinterested.
When Paul told his newly Christian audience to pray, they prayed. Perhaps they repeated the Psalms together but I would bet they prayed spontaneous prayers from the heart as well. They were new to the faith, the Common Book of Prayer had not been written. Some were Jews and had experience praying to the Father, but now it was a whole new experience. The Holy Spirit was dwelling inside each believer and they prayed from the heart to God for themselves and others.
Paul gives us a directive — he says pray! How do we pray — in the Spirit! And for what – all occasions. This means, like he has said before, we pray without ceasing. There is nothing too little or too big for which we should pray. Every time God comes to mind or we see someone in need – we should pray. Each time we are filled with fear, anxiety or faith — we pray. And we do this always, on all occasions and “always keep on praying for all the Lords people.”
Some folks have more of a natural inclination to formal prayers than others. I like to include God in my thoughts, to pray as I walk, run, work, drive, read or hang with friends. Not that I always remember to pray, I wish I did, but let’s encourage each other to include God in everything that we do. Prayer is something we can do both formally and informally. Timely conversations with God not only can happen in Church but each and every moment of the day.
Won’t you pray? As your thoughts move to your needs and struggle, move them to the Lord. He is near. He is with you. He is just a prayer away.
“O Lord God, you inhabit the prayers and praises of your people. Are you with us, drawing us to yourself. Come now, Holy Spirit, and remind us to pray for ourselves and others. Help us know that you are near and fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen