“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. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
Paul has just finished a description of putting on the whole armor of God for strength to fight the wiles of the devil. He finishes with taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Now he turns to prayer and praying at all times for all things continuously. This is one of the concepts, principles or commands in scripture that seems to be beyond human capability. I can’t do anything continuously. For quite a while in my life it seemed that I could complain and grumble. Thanks be to God, I no longer do this. But, to continuously pray? Paul takes this even further in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 by saying, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Being joyful and giving thanks for all things also seem impossible without God’s help.
Paul’s teaching on God’s behalf is throughout his writings. In Romans 1:9-10 he says, “God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times…” Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that “we also thank God continually.” This theme continues to the Colossians in 1:3, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…” Paul gives a clear indication of how important this is by teaching his protégé Timothy, “I thank God, who I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” (2 Timothy 1:3).
So perhaps for this admonition we need to ask the Holy Spirit for strength. This is what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit using the Scripture or the sword of the Spirit. Praying in the Scripture gives us the power of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit. So, we can praise God as the Psalmist saying, “My praise shall continually be of thee…” (Ps 71:6). Or as Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name.”