Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 6:18-20, which in particular covers the matter of prayer.
We have seen that the armor of God is composed of six items: the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the firm foundation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. When we are equipped with such a full armor, we can stand against the attack of the enemy and even take the offensive against him. After these items of the armor of God, Paul turns to prayer.
Verse 18 says, “By means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit, and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints.” The phrase “by means of all prayer and petition” modifies the word receive in verse 17. By prayer we receive both the helmet of salvation and the word of God. This indicates that we need to receive the word of God by means of all prayer and petition. We need to pray as we are receiving the word of God. We have seen that the whole armor of God is composed of six items. Prayer may be considered the seventh. It is the means by which we apply the other items.
The modifier “by means of all prayer and petition” in verse 18 is related to all six items of the armor covered in verses 14 through 17. It is by means of all prayer and petition that we gird our loins with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, and have our feet shod with the firm foundation of the gospel of peace. Furthermore, it is by prayer that we take up the shield of faith and receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Whenever we are about to put on the armor or to take up any item of the armor, we need to pray. We cannot and we should not attempt to use any part of God’s armor without prayer. Prayer is the unique way to apply the armor of God. It is prayer that makes the armor available to us in a practical way. For example, we may have the helmet of salvation, but it is prayer that makes this helmet available and prevailing. Therefore, prayer is crucial and vital.
In verse 18 Paul speaks not just of one kind of prayer, but of all prayer and petition. Prayer is general, whereas petition is particular. We should pray both in an ordinary way and, when necessary, in an extraordinary way, perhaps giving up sleep or food in order to petition the Lord concerning a certain situation.
In verse 18 Paul speaks of “praying at every time.” Some think the phrase “at every time” means simply every time we pray. To others it means all the time. To pray all the time corresponds to Paul’s word in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing.
In verse 18 Paul says specifically that we are to pray in spirit. This refers to our regenerated spirit indwelt by the Spirit of God. It may be considered the mingled spirit—our spirit mingled with God’s Spirit. Whenever we are in our spirit, we are also in the Holy Spirit, for our spirit is one with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Therefore, Paul’s charge to pray in spirit implies that we must also pray in the Spirit of God, for these two spirits are mingled in us.
In prayer, the main faculty we should use is our spirit. If our mind is overactive or if our emotion is not under control, we shall find it difficult to pray. When we pray, our mind should be at rest, and our emotion should be regulated, neither too hot nor too cold. According to my experience, I easily become distracted in prayer when my mind is preoccupied with other things. Likewise, when my emotion is not properly regulated, I find it difficult to utter something from my spirit in prayer. Hence, in order to pray in spirit, we need to be adjusted in our mind and balanced in our emotion. This requires a great deal of inward exercise.
Furthermore, if we would pray at every time in spirit, our will must be strong. A person with a will like a jellyfish cannot pray. It may seem that prayer is easy, but actually it is difficult. It is very easy to talk or read, but it is not easy to pray. This is the reason that prayer requires the exercise of our will.
A Christian must be a praying person. It is a sin not to pray. If you fail to pray for others, the saints or those in your family, you are sinning. However, not many Christians regard the lack of prayer as sin. We need to exercise our will to be people of prayer. For the sake of a proper prayer life, our mind must be sober, our emotion must be regulated, and our will must be strengthened. Then we shall be able to pray at every time in spirit.
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