“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.” Ephesians 6:18-20
Wednesday evening – after some 230 people enjoyed the exceptional culinary gifts of Mandy and her food ministries team – my small group Bible study concluded our class on “The Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
The thrust of this passage is protecting the relationship we have with God, and the writer recommends the following tools:
- The belt of truth
- The breastplate of righteousness
- Shoes so we can be ready to share the gospel of peace
- The shield of faith
- The helmet of salvation
- The sword of the Spirit (the word of God)
Many commentaries list the above (six) items, and leave it there. But my Bible leaves no doubt that there’s one more:
- Pray in the Spirit at all times
Prayer is essential to protecting the restored relationship with the Creator Jesus gave everything to make possible. So prayer was our focus Wednesday evening. We prayed together, we talked about how prayer has impacted our own lives, and each man around the table shared a story about the power of prayer as a transformational truth, truth they had personally witnessed.
POWER! Something powerful happens when a roomful of men talk openly, and authentically, and humbly about their experiences of faith. We were all encouraged, validated, blessed, and challenged.
We talked specifically about four ideas that came out of the reading about prayer.
- Pray “at all times.” Prayer that protects our relationship with God undergirds us throughout the day. Prayer is the language of the relationship, so it must involve listening as much as our words.
- “To that end keep alert.” Rather than messaging God reactively, this kind of prayer must be proactive, so we are always attuned to the probability that any given event, person, challenge, or circumstance is an invitation to prayer. Several guys shared how God prompts them to pray.
- “Always persevere…” Prayer that guards our life of faith is never “one-and-done.” Sometimes a prayer requires the investment of several years of open-spirited communication. Mostly prayer is about God changing us, and that always takes time. The point of prayer is the relationship with God, not the granting of a wish.
- Pray “boldly.” The guys were all over this one. They pointed out that boldness requires honesty and authenticity on our part, and also the courage to be willing to allow God to transform us in the process.
Men who talk faith with me, know me, listen to me, love me, grow with me, and hold me accountable! One more way this life I enjoy is such an amazing blessing! – DEREK