Summary: Intercessory prayer is the key to standing as the kind of church God wants us to be.
1. The first key to standing by kneeling is to pray continually. (6:18)
2. The second key to standing by kneeling is to pray personally. (6:19-20)
3. The third key to standing by kneeling is to pray specifically. (6:21-22)
4. Conclusion (6:23-24)
This morning we’re reaching a milestone. We’re finishing Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians. My prayer is that these past 20 messages have been an enriching experience for you. I pray they have helped you to see the richness in the unity of Scripture. To see the depth of the teaching of Scripture. To see the beauty of consecutive study. The goal of all biblical study is to become more like Christ. I pray you can say you have been growing more like Him as a result of this study. Let’s complete this study the way we began it back in January. Let’s stand in honor of reading God’s Word.
A couple of years ago, a town outside of Detroit, MI made headlines all over the country. It made headlines because their local mosque was blasting the Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers. Despite the protests of many of the townspeople, five times a day Arabic chants were trumpeted for all to hear. Chants calling all people to face Mecca and pray to a false god in the words of his false prophet, Mohammed. If you have ever been in a Muslim country, the call to prayer overrides everything. Work stops. In many places, traffic stops. Five times a day, everything ceases. People turn in to their prayer rooms, lay out their prayer rugs, bow toward Mecca and repeat their memorized, impersonal, blasphemous prayers. In those countries, the call to prayer is legally enforced. Punishments are severe for those caught violating the enforced prayer times. As we enter this time when we celebrate our nation’s independence, I thank God that we are still a free nation. We are still free to worship in the way we choose. We are free from a government that imposes false religion on us. But what do we do with that freedom? Do we use it to exercise our faith fully? Do we use it to do the things Jesus wants of us? Or do we allow our freedoms to lull us into complacency and laziness in how we exercise our faith? We need a call to prayer in our nation. We need a call to prayer in our church. We need a call to prayer in our homes. We need a call to prayer in our lives. Not one that involves government coercion. Not one that involves loudspeakers and false gods. But one that involves real commitment to the real God of the Bible. A call to prayer like the one Paul concluded Ephesians with. A call to prayer that is the key to standing as the kind of church God wants us to be. Standing as the kind of families God wants us to be. Standing as the kind of people God wants us to be. The kind of church and families and people who stand by kneeling. If you remember back to the beginning of our study, Paul began this letter with a prayer. He prayed that the Ephesian Christians would know the riches of their salvation. That they would know who Christ is and what He had done for them. And as a result, they would know who they were in relationship to each other. Then over in chapter 3, he prayed for them again. This time he prayed for their strength. Strength to walk in a manner that was worthy of their calling. In other words, for them to show their salvation in the way they lived. Now, as he closes his letter, he talks about prayer once again. This time he asks them for their prayers. He has prayed for the church, now it’s the church’s turn to pray for him. Why? Because Paul knew that intercessory prayer is the key to standing as the kind of church God wants us to be. He knew that the only way for them to experience true peace, love and grace was for them to practice church-wide intercession. That’s what I want for us this morning. I want for each of us to experience the peace, love and grace that can only come from true church-wide intercession. In order to do that, we’re going to look at three keys to standing by kneeling. The first key is to pray continually. Look with me in verse 18:
The first key to standing by kneeling is to pray continually. Paul starts this verse by telling us to pray always. Well, when is always? Is it at church? Is it before meals? Is it before bed? Is it during our quiet time? Yes! It’s all of those and more. Those are the more formal times of prayer. But the Bible tells us to always be in a spirit of prayer. We use the computer a lot. I remember a few years back when we switched from a dial-up online service provider to what’s called broadband. When we used dial-up, we didn’t use the computer much. It took a long time to get email to come up. Downloading took forever. Besides that, it took a while to get online in the first place. But things really changed when we went to broadband. Things were a whole lot faster and more convenient. Why was that? Because with broadband, the connection is always open. If the computer is on, we’re online. The communication between my computer and the server somewhere is always going on. That is the way our prayer life is supposed to be. We are always supposed to be online with God. Yes, we designate certain specific times to commune with Him in prayer. But even outside of those times, we’re plugged in with Him. Our communication with His is an “always” thing. But what does our continual conversation consist of? It consists of all prayer and supplication. The word that Paul uses for prayer here refers to general requests. Supplication, on the other hand, is specific requests. When he puts both of those words together, he’s letting us know that our continual conversation with God includes all kinds of prayer. We are to continually talk to God using all types of prayer. Prayers of praise. Prayers of thanksgiving. Prayers of personal requests. Prayers of intercession. Private prayer or public prayer. Planned or spontaneous. Sitting, standing, kneeling, lying down. Aloud or silent. Wherever, whenever—just as long as it is continual. Continual and in the Spirit. There is a lot of stuff that is called praying in the Spirit today that isn’t. Praying in the Spirit isn’t some type of unexplainable ecstatic experience. It isn’t speaking in unknown tongues. It isn’t a so-called private prayer language. Praying in the Spirit is allowing the Holy Spirit of God to shape you into praying according to God’s will. It is the same as praying in the name of Jesus. Praying in the name of Jesus isn’t some magical formula we tag on to the end of our prayers. Praying in the name of Jesus is praying in the Spirit. It is praying in a way that is consistent with who Jesus is and who He wants us to be. Praying continually also means praying with perseverance. Be steadfast in prayer. Continue on, even when the answer doesn’t seem to come. Jesus spoke of perseverance in one of His parables. Turn with me to Luke 11:5-13.