Ephesians 6:18 tells us: “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.”
Did you notice the four “alls” in this passage—“all occasions,” “all kinds,” “always,” and “all the saints”? What a simple way to say that prayer is tremendously important, that all of life is to be brought to God in prayer.
Praying begins not with self but with God. To “pray in the Spirit” means to pray with the help of the Spirit, under the influence of the Spirit. It means praying the thoughts that the Spirit kindles within us. What is impossible in our own strength becomes possible with the Spirit’s help.
Pray “on all occasions” means that prayer is to be as broad as life itself. Talk to God about your problems, your joys, your temptations, and your struggles. Let him in on your everyday life: your work, your bill paying, leisure time, shopping, visits to the doctor, and time with friends. There is nothing in life than cannot be prayed about. Welcome God right into the middle of your sometimes mundane, usually busy, occasionally stressful, and always complex life. Pray about the ordinary.
Pray “all kinds of prayers.” Let there be no blessing without a word of thanks, no sin without expressed confession, no need arising without a prayer of supplication, and no glimpse of God’s glory without a whispered prayer of praise. If prayer is the talking part of a love relationship with God, keep up the love relationship by talking with God about all kinds of things.
Pray “always”! This means that prayer is not to be cubby-holed into special times and special days. It never needs to be put off . There is never a better time to pray than at any given moment. Prayer is meant to be a natural, ongoing part of all our days and nights.
Also be sure to “pray for all the saints.” This isn’t possible if it means praying for every Christian in the world by name. But you can pray specifically for Christians you know—family members, friends, fellow church members, neighbors. It also works to pray by categories—for church leaders, persecuted Christians, Christians in power, Christians in media, believers of different ethnic backgrounds, Christians in specific countries with great needs.
Because of prayer the weakest Christian does not have to fear “the devil’s schemes” or all “the powers of this dark world and . . . the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:11-12). Every true believer can live in constant fellowship with the mightiest ally in the world—God himself.
In him we have the strength to stand. Prayer is the God-given way our relationship with God is maintained.
- Review the past 24 hours of your life. Can you think of one glimpse of God’s glory that deserved praise, one gift that deserved a word of thanks, one sin that needs to be confessed, or one need that begs for God’s help? Are you talking to God about these things?
- What “saints” (other Christians) need your prayers right now in order to stand against the devil’s schemes?
- Praise the Spirit of God, who alone knows the thoughts of God and is able to reveal them to us.
Thank the Spirit for helping us pray as we ought and for kindling in our hearts prayers that are pleasing to God.
- Confess any failure you are aware of to pray all kinds of prayers on all occasions and to always keep on praying for all the saints.
- Ask for the Spirit’s help to be conscious of and talking to God throughout the day in all circumstances.
- Intercede in behalf of other Christians who need your prayers to be able to be stand in the face of the devil’s schemes.
Alvin VanderGriend was the founder of the Denominational Prayer Leaders Network and a prolific writer on the subject of prayer. The article is adapted from his all-time best-selling Love to Pray, a book which has influenced the prayer lives of hundreds of thousands of Christians.