Not Just Occasionally

Ephesians 6:18 – “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for the saints.”

Someone wisely said “prayer should be our first line of defense not our last gasp of desperation.” That is certainly Paul’s message to the church at Ephesus and to us as well. Prayer should be what we do first. It should be our heartbeat as we follow Christ in this world. Paul is talking in this context of standing against the temptations of the devil and he tells us in verse 14 to “stand firm” and now he follows that up by telling us to “keep alert” and to “pray at all times”. In other words we stand firm by prayer, and we keep alert by prayer. If we are not in communion with God it becomes very easy to lose focus and not to stand firm but to sink into sin. If we are not talking to God and listening to God in prayer we quickly go from being alert to falling asleep. We quickly go from persevering to giving in, from being passionate to being apathetic. No wonder Paul tells us to pray at all times.

What does he mean when he says that however? We obviously can’t pray continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So what does he mean when he says “pray at all times”? The word that is used for times there is used in other places to speak of occasions. So Paul is actually telling us to pray in all different occasions. One theologian of old puts it this way, “When everything flows on prosperously, — when we are easy and cheerful, we seldom feel any strong excitement to prayer, — or rather, we never flee to God, but when we are driven by some kind of distress. Paul therefore desires us to allow no opportunity to pass, on no occasion to neglect prayer; so that praying always is the same thing with praying both in prosperity and in adversity.”

We are to pray when things are good, when things are bad, when things are excruciating, and when things are in between. We are to pray at all times, in all occasions. What does that look like? When a new day begins, pray. When you come to a time of decision, pray. When you come to a time of sickness, pray. When you come to a time of health, pray. When you meet new people, pray. When you need rest, pray. When you eat, pray. When you whatever, pray. Pray in all circumstances and opportunities. Pray in all different kinds of occasions.

Why? Because prayer helps us to stand strong. Prayer gives us wisdom. Prayer keeps us alert. Most importantly prayer leads us into the Presence of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Prayer humbles us before Him and cries out to Him that we need Him. That we need His wisdom, His strength, His healing, His grace, His love, His mercy, His peace. When we pray we are acknowledging that we need Him every hour, every minute, every second of our lives. When we pray we are saying “God I am nothing without you, and I need you for all the circumstances of life.”

So let us pray without ceasing for the glory of God.

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