“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 saints.” Ephesians 6:18
Pray in the Spirit:
Be inspired, allow heaven to be continually invading your heart and giving utterance to you lips. Allow yourself to get carried away in the Spirit’s prayer and carried along by the spiritual tidal wave of other’s prayer. Luke 6:45, talking about good and evil utterance, states, “for out of the overflow of (your) heart (your) mouth speaks…”
Don’t always worry about finding the correct words. As we saw in the last post the Holy Spirit may often take us beyond words into longing. Hear what John Bunyan had to say about this:
“The best prayers have often more groans than words.”
On all occasions – the “kairos” moment:
The best way to overcome time is through prayer. We all know Martin Luther’s famous phrase,
“Tomorrow I plan to work, work, from early until late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
The great preacher Spurgeon also learnt the priority of prayer as a means of making the most of every opportunity – redeeming time:
“We think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time.”
In Greek there are two words for time – Chronos, which is the seconds and minutes of a watch, and Kronos, which is the opportunity, the “timeless event” in time. “All occasions” is translated “kairos” here. True prayers live in the kairos moment and are no slaves to clocks and time.
Inspired by the Father’s love may our tongues flow into “all kinds” of prayers. Diversity is the hall-mark of prayer. There are as many ways of praying as there are personalities and cultures. It is always good to be open to learning from others, but the key of prayer is to be able to recognise and develop your own God-given style. Corporate prayer is like arranging a beautiful bouquet of different flowers. Just as the skill of a professional florist can bring beauty from the right arrangement, so the skill of a seasoned prayer leader will bring harmony and strength to the corporate prayer event.
Don’t be afraid of people who pray differently from you. Don’t shut down their utterance. Sometimes people need space and time to learn to pray out loud and refine their words. Initiate long sessions of prayer which allow such apprenticeships. Don’t expect perfection, or theologically correct phraseology, but allow the precious pearl to emerge from the mud of the field.
Be alert – no hypnosis!
The Greek word used here is “ayrupneo” has its roots in “hypnos” which means sleep, and “a”, which means “out of”, or “no”. No sinking into the land of nod for those who want to pray. I have always been amazed to see how many yawns appear, and how many people begin to sink into the arms of Morpheus during a prayer session. It is a spiritual battle to stay alert! Somnos is the Latin equivalent for sleep. Prayer pushes us to “insomnia,” or as the Muslims say, “Prayer is better than sleep.”
Hypnos, in Greek mythology, had a twin brother called Thanatos which gives us the word “death.” When most of the people are half-asleep or non-engaged in the prayer, you are simply inviting a very deathly spirit into your session. Remember the context of spiritual warfare within which this teaching on prayer is given. “Be Alert!”
Always keep on:
“The chief failure of prayer is its cessation.”
You will never finish a marathon if you stop. The very nature of prayer is persistence – not simply a legalistic masochism to get to the end of the session, but a hard-working, painfully sweating, sweet communion with our Bridegroom King. We do not just pray to get stuff, but the very “praying personality” which God is forming in us has untold eternal value in itself. The Bride is indeed, with much faithful perseverance, making herself ready.
For all the saints:
Who are the saints? This is what Pope Francis recently said on his Twitter page.
“To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”
Our prayers must never remain only mystical words. Beware the aimless strumming of a guitar, or the endless listening to a worship cd for hours on end that sometimes goes by the name of a prayer session. At some point your prayer must connect!
Praying for the saints doesn’t mean a mystical devotion to an old man’s bones or a young man’s singing. It means finding incarnation and communion.
Prayer needs to be directed to real people and projects. It needs a group of bodies to live in. It needs your own willing body. It needs a living sacrifice. King David sums up this necessary incarnation in Psalm 109:4 when he says:
“I am a man of prayer.”
Translated literally he is saying: “I am prayer…”
Prayer needs to incarnate into unreached people groups, language learning, faith sharing, generous giving, servanthood…crucifixion.
Your prayers also need communion. The Apostles creed states that we believe “in the communion of the saints.” This can only be fully grasped in the context of prayer. We ever live in our prayers. Groanings and intercession outlast time and death. We can still be in communion with the prayers of Saint Paul…but also Saint Evan Roberts, and all the other cloud of witnesses who have faithfully, and often anonymously, prayed throughout the ages.
We are called to pick up the baton of such prayers and carry them forward into our own generation. Longings and dreams for revival, for the awakening of whole people groups. How Hudson Taylor’s groanings for China have been taken up by a whole generation of Chinese now on their way “back to Jerusalem.”
There is indeed a necessary Synergy of intercession – a deep communion with the living prayers of those who have gone, and are going before us.
The every day “koinonia” of a prayer group’s life is also vitally important for the efficacy of prayer. In Matthew 18:19-20 we read:
” Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
“Symphono” and “Synago” – the sweet music of agreement, and the unity of the gathered, true synergy, genuine communion...
“the saints go marching in!”