• Joshua Waldock

Prayer Week from January

Monday

Each day we will read this passage of scripture but through the week we will focus on a single verse. Each day I will look at a different part of verse 18, and it will lead us in to praying for different aspects of our lives, our church and our world. You may wish to draw, write or make things as you pray to reflect your personality, and your way of speaking to Him.

It would be lovely when we meet to pray as a group on Saturday, if you could bring your thoughts and prayers from these ideas to the meeting to share with one another. So do record them in some way so they come to mind easily.

But please do come prepared to share what you’ve prayed for, how you’ve prayed and who you’ve prayed for.

PRAY: Ask God to speak to you while you read the passage and devotional reading.

READ: Ephesians 6:10 to 20

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 Lord’s people.

I wonder what your favourite way of communicating with people is? Is there a method that you prefer? There are so many choices today; letters, emails, text messages, phone calls, video call, semaphore… the list goes on. Of course, the whole point of communicating is normally to share a message, and perhaps your choice of contact method depends on how important or urgent that message is.


God also has lots of ways to communicate with us; The Bible, other people’s words, through nature and creation, things we see, our thoughts and our dreams, through experiences. I believe that God’s choice of how he speaks is personalised to who he is speaking to, and also dependent on how important or urgent His message is.


God loves to speak to us and we can only hope to hear everything that he has for us. Part of that is being aware of how the Holy Spirit speaks to us, I believe that we become most aware of that through prayer. As we ask God to speak to us, he indicates to us where to be alert.


Just like on a phone call we have to be quiet or we don’t hear the message, so too in prayer we must take time to be quiet and listen to what God is saying. I believe that when we do that God guides are prayers so that we talk in line with his will.


PRAY: Spend some time in quiet to hear what God is leading you to pray about today. Leave space for him to talk in a way that suits you, a picture, a song or some words. Write down what you feel God says to you and treasure it.


Tuesday

PRAY: Ask God to show you something new while you read the passage.

READ: Ephesians 6:10 to 20


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 Lord’s people.

Every year we each go through a number of occasions, some happy, some sad. From birthdays and coronations to job changes and funerals. Ecclesiastes 3.1 reminds us that there is a time for everything.


Importantly it goes on to say that that includes a time for weeping, laughing, mourning and dancing, and we know that in each of those occasions God hasn’t changed. He is the same God when we weep as when we dance. In Matthew 5 Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount reminds us that God blesses those who mourn through comfort.


God’s faithfulness is not dependent on what we are going through, so neither should our dependence on him. God has chosen to not always protect us from difficulties, but He does always protect us in them.


The same is true of the local church. Our small congregation has gone through a lot over its life time. And it’s important to remember that God was there for it all, and he will continue to be there long in to the future.


God celebrates with us in the births, baptisms, anniversaries and he comforts us in times of grief and mourning lost loved ones and broken relationships. But whether celebrating or comforting, his love for us never stops.


PRAY: Recall occasions over your life time, as many as possible, pray about each – thanking God for the good, and asking him for comfort and healing where it is needed. Think about the occasions coming up in the future; for you, for your family, for the church and across the world. Pray in to each situation as you are led to it.


Wednesday

PRAY: Thank God for a new day and ask that he leads you in to his will today.

READ: Ephesians 6:10 to 20


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 Lord’s people.

Why do you pray? Why does anyone pray? If God knows all about us, even our thoughts why do we need to pray? As we explored on Monday the purpose of prayer is to have a conversation, and the purpose of conversation is to have and build relationship.


In all relationships there are normally different reasons to talk to one another. Perhaps you need to ask something, perhaps you need to say sorry, perhaps you want to wish them well, perhaps you want to say thank you and perhaps you just need to hear their voice.


The bible describes a number of types of prayer and it is important we use all of them to truly build our relationship with Him. It’s also important that you use each of them in each stage of life. You shouldn’t only praise God when things are going well. You shouldn’t only make requests when you’re desperate.


The types of prayer found in the bible include: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Promises, Reflection, for Healing, Requests, Intercession, for Change, Blessing others – there’s a lot in there.


And it’s true it’s much easier to ask for healing when you’re sick, but there’s plenty of other people who need to be healed. It’s much easier to give thanks when life is going well, but there is always something to be thankful for. It’s much easier to reflect when it’s quiet, but there’s always things worth looking back on.


No matter what occasion you are in or is on the horizon, I encourage you to regularly use all the methods of prayer, because they will all have a purpose and a positive effect on your relationship with God.


PRAY: Make a list of the different types of prayers, go through each one by one stopping to reflect on what God is saying through your Adoration, Confessions, Requests etc.


Thursday

PRAY: Remind yourself of what God done this week. Praise him for his presence.

READ: Ephesians 6:10 to 20


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 Lord’s people.

In recent years a Christmas game has launched out of the internet. From the first of December the


goal is to avoid hearing a certain song, Last Christmas by Wham!, for as long as possible. For people who take the game seriously they avoid radio, shopping centres and the like so they can reach Christmas without hearing that song.


They are constantly alert to the possibility of the opening melody of the song knocking them out of the friendly contest. Paul tells the Ephesian church to be similarly alert, but not to the fear of a song but to the necessity to pray. Being alert to knowing what to pray for at all times.

The third “all” is technically an “al…ways” keep on praying. Elsewhere Paul says to pray continually, be constant in prayer, continue steadfastly in prayer. Paul is pretty adamant that prayer isn’t an activity we enter in to when we feel like it. But, prayer is a constant process of communication between you and God.


And to do that we need to keep on, it’s not easy to have God at the forefront of all we do. It’s not easy to remember to pray in certain situations. Often, we just get on with it without thinking. That’s why we must practise the discipline of constantly praying. Just as you’re encouraged to be constantly alert, you can be constantly praying too.


The Student Worker at my old church was a great example for this. If you were to be a fly on the wall of his office, or if you happened to just walk past the door during the time he was in there, you would hear an almost constant conversation. About everything and anything, but just between him and God.


This isn’t something to make us feel bad when we fail, it’s not like we’re at risk of being eliminated from a game or a contest. But God welcomes us back in to the conversation at every opportunity. He invites us to try again, because he cares about all of it. He cares about the little things and the big things, he cares about your praise and he cares about your tears. He cares about the “sorry” and he cares about the “help me”.


So keep on praying. And when that feels like too much of a challenge, remember he cares also about the effort and the heart behind the prayers.


PRAY: Pray that God would show you the people, places and things to pray for today. Look out for them in every situation no matter where you are or who you are with. Whether you pray out loud or in quiet, take time with him today.


Friday

PRAY: Pray that God would equip you with the full armour of God today. Pray that he would speak through you today.

READ: Ephesians 6:10 to 20


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 Lord’s people.

In another translation this last phrase says that we are to pray for all the saints. Which throws in the question “who are the saints?” The NIV helps out by removing the word saints in favour of “The Lord’s people”. A good decision to help us realise that praying for the saints isn't only about praying for those people who are put on a pedestal of being better than your average Christian. But instead praying for the saints means praying for everyone who belongs to God.


That is a huge number of people, on current estimates it is over 2 billion people. If you were to pray for each of them for 1 second it would take you nearly 15 years without sleep to pray for them all. I don’t think that’s what Paul is suggesting, nor is it what God is expecting.


But we must take time to think about other Christians, we should take time to pray for people we don’t know who are being persecuted, we should pray for missionaries as they share the gospel far and wide, we should pray for our neigbouring churches and out neighbours in the next church service.


Just as praying on all occasions meant in the joy and mourning, and praying with all kinds of prayers meant praying adoration and lamenting, so then praying for all the Lord’s people means praying for those we know and don’t know, for those that we like and don’t like and for those that we agree with and those that we don’t agree with.


And that can be difficult, it’s hard to pray for people that you don’t know, don’t like and don’t agree with – but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love them. It also means praying for those people that aren’t yet part of the Lord’s people, but we hope will be soon.


Allow God to speak to direct your prayers for different people and when you don’t know what to pray, allow The Spirit to speak on your behalf. Just as Christ intercedes for us before The Father, so too can the Spirit intercede for us as we pray. It may not feel natural, but if we are to pray for all of the saints there is no one who knows all of the saints better than God Spirit, so tune yourself to him today so that he can show you who needs your prayers to sustain them.


PRAY: Call to mind the people from our regular church congregation (or pull out a copy of the directory) and pray for them by name, you may not know what they need prayer for today, but don’t let that stop you. As you pray perhaps one or two people will be drawn to you, if you’re able send them an encouraging message, a bible verse, or something you feel God is saying.


Spend some time praying for people that are not part of our church, perhaps some are specific people that you wish were; family, friends, neighbours. Ask God for opportunities to speak to them about Him.


Also bring to mind the specific people or the type of people you would love to see in the church more. Draw or write down what they may be like, their gifts, skills and their needs. Ask that God would put us in contact with those people.


Saturday

This was part of a morning of prayer held in the church, including worship, prayer and sharing. This is the basic notes from what was shared as a talk.


All week we have focussed on verse 18 “And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds or prayers and requests and with this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." We’ve focussed on the four all’s in the verse – All Occasions, All Kinds, Always and All the Lord’s People.


But today I want to go back I want to go back to the armour of God why is the armour important because the word at the start of verse 18 is "and". Which tells us it links to the previous verses. It tells us that in the instructions to stand firm then, and pray is part of the bigger picture. And I want to try and put a new light, or a new thought on some of the things you may have heard about the armour in the past.



Often, we hear about the Armour of God and we look at the items and it feels like a bit of an over whelming proposition. There’s a lot for us to do isn’t there? Got to get my helmet, my breastplate, my shoes, and belt and shield and the sword. And that’s a lot for me to grab and put on.

Well, the good news is that it’s not all your responsibility. The beauty of a lot of the roman armour which is being replicated in imagery here is that you didn’t grab it for yourself. Someone would help you get ready. In our situation, if you yourself are trying to put on your own faith, righteousness or your own salvation you will fail that must come from Christ. It’s not our responsibility to go and get those things, it’s our responsibility to accept them from Him.


I hear people talking about the armour,a specific thing to do with the shoes. “having your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. And people say that it is this readiness that enables us as Christians to move forward. And while that may be true in part, there is a more important part of the shoes of a roman solider that is often omitted.


Roman soldier’s sandals had, on their base, small studs, for grip, but at the end of those studs there are hooks, which meant when you’re standing your ground in a battle you can’t walk backwards. They dig in they give you stability. They grab hold of the ground. And if you’re on solid ground then you won’t get pushed backwards. These shoes are designed to help you stand firm.


The other thing I think people misunderstand is the sword. Some say that sword is the only weapon of the armour of God. It’s for going on the attack against the rulers, authorities, powers in this dark world. Is it though? The swords of the soldiers described here were small, stubby swords used most often for defence, it’s there to parry weapons away. And push attackers to one side, not to go out and attack someone.


And I think that’s reflected in the way that Jesus used the Bible when he encountered Satan in the wilderness – he used the scripture to defend himself and his God. “man shall not live by bread alone” – “do not put the Lord your God to the test” – “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”


And 2 of those three were in response to Satan quoting scripture at Jesus. Satan attacked with the Word of God, taking it out of context, twisting it in to a lie (just like he did in the garden of Eden). Jesus stands his ground and pushes him back. The sword of the spirit, the word of God isn’t to go and attack people with. It’s to keep ourselves safe, to defend ourselves, it’s to stop our breastplate, our shield and our helmet taking a hit from an attack.


So, we come to prayer, as the final part of the armour. The way we stand firm, the way we remain standing is by speaking with and listening to our God. Listening to the commander of the Lords army. Without prayer all the rest becomes impossible because it is the one things that heavily relies on us. It relies on us making time, it relies on us putting in effort.


We pray so that all the other parts of the armour find their place, we pray to support those around us, we pray to add people to our number. We pray so that we can stand firm in our battle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


I hope that during the week that you’ve been praying that you’ve been able to take the opportunity to write down or draw out your prayers in some way, or perhaps your memory is way better than mine. So, the next part of the morning is that we’re going to share with each other what God has put on our heart when we’ve thought about the occasions, the kinds, the always and all the lords people.


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