Summary: The 1) Frequency (Ephesians 6:18a) , 2), Power(Ephesians 6:18b) 3) Variety (Ephesians 6:18c) , 4) Manner (Ephesians 6:18d), and the 5) Objects of prayer (Ephesians 6:18e).
This week, a Seattle football coach is planning a bold move that could end up costing his job. The controversy boils down to prayer in schools, but coach Joe Kennedy is determined to keep praying with any players who want to join him. Kennedy and his lawyer believe that the prayers don't break the law because it happens after the game. Critics however believe what they are doing is a direct violation of the Constitution because Kennedy is a government employee. It all started back in 2008 when players saw Kennedy praying on the 50-yard line after a game. Soon his entire team, including opponents, joined him in payer. (http://q13fox.com/2015/10/14/im-just-going-to-do-my-prayer-after-game-prayers-could-cost-bremerton-football-coachs-job/)
The great spiritual warfare in which we are engaged demands unceasing and diligent commitment to prayer. That is exactly what the apostle Paul says as he closes his appeal for Christians to put on the full armor of God. Putting on, taking up, and receiving God’s armor all require an attitude of dependence on God. Prayer for strengthening from God can be seen as a major way in which believers appropriate the divine armor and are enabled to stand (Lincoln, A. T. (1990). Ephesians (Vol. 42, p. 452). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.).
It is especially easy for Christians who live in a free and prosperous society to feel secure just as they are, presuming on instead of depending on God’s grace. It is easy to become so satisfied with physical blessings that we have little desire for spiritual blessings, and to become so dependent on our physical resources that we feel little need for spiritual resources. A happy marriage, where children are well behaved and all are enjoying a church that is growing, tends to make people smug and self–satisfied. They can even become practical humanists, living as if God were not necessary. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help will be missing—along with God’s empowerment. It is because of this great and common danger that Paul closes this epistle with an urgent call to prayer. Equipping ourselves with God’s armour is not a mechanical operation; it is itself an expression of our dependence on God, in other words of prayer (Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 283). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).
The four "alls" introduce the five emphases Paul makes regarding the general character of the believer’s prayer life: the 1) Frequency (Ephesians 6:18a) , 2), Power(Ephesians 6:18b) 3) Variety (Ephesians 6:18c) , 4) Manner (Ephesians 6:18d), and the 5) Objects of prayer (Ephesians 6:18e) .
1) The Frequency of Prayer (Ephesians 6:18a)
Ephesians 6:18a praying at all times (in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints), (ESV)
The Jewish people of Paul’s day had several prescribed times for daily prayer, but the coming of the New Covenant brought a new dimension to prayer as it did to everything else. Jesus said, “Keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place” (Luke 21:36). Among other things, the earliest Christians in Jerusalem “were continually devoting themselves … to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The God–fearing Cornelius, to whom the Lord sent Peter with the message of salvation, “prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2). In many of his letters Paul urged his readers to regularly devote themselves to prayer (Rom. 12:12; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17). The apostle assured Timothy, his beloved son in the Lord, that he prayed for him “night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3). The early church knew the importance of prayer, and God honored their prayers, even when faith was sometimes weak—as in the case of those who were praying for Peter’s release from prison but did not believe Rhoda when she reported that he was knocking at the door (Acts 12:12–15).
Please turn to Matthew 6 (p.811)
For one to be praying at all times obviously does not mean we are to pray in formal or noticeable ways every waking moment of our lives. Jesus did not do that, nor did the apostles. And it certainly does not mean we are to devote ourselves to ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer that are recited mechanically from a prayer book or while counting beads. That amounts to no more than the “meaningless repetition”.
Jesus warned against this:
Matthew 6:5-8 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (ESV)