Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:18b “. . .always. . .”
“Always” translates three Greek words which literally mean “in all seasons.” Pray at all times, on every occasion, in every incident of life. To assure we make the best of every situation, make everything, including your “to do” list, a matter of prayer. Pray not only in times of crisis, but habitually, in all types of circumstances.
A Christian should combine two traits: a prayerful spirit always, offering up prayers frequently. First, a prayerful spirit always. Prayer is neither a substitute for activity nor an encouragement to laziness. We pray while suited for battle, but even as we go forth to tend to the day’s affairs, we keep our hearts sitting at God’s gate.
We must learn to practice the presence of God, having a never ending sense of communion with Him. Seek “an abiding sense of abiding want” (Melvill, in BI). A sensed, conscious dependence on God is the foundation of all true spirituality.
Having first a prayerful spirit always, creates secondly a mind set which offers up prayers frequently. As soldiers, Christians are obligated to maintain constant contact with their heavenly Commander‑in‑chief. Every true soldier fights under the consciously realized direction of a commanding officer, and thus stays in touch.
Prayer is the Christian soldier’s divinely ordained means of responding to messages from headquarters. In Scripture we have the soldier’s Word from the Commander‑in‑chief; in prayer we have the soldier’s word to the Commander‑in‑chief. This communication line must remain open and ready for use at all times.
In battle, few things more terrify a soldier than broken communication with headquarters. In WWI, a regiment went into the Argonne Forest and was lost. For days they were out of touch with headquarters, and were referred to as the “lost regiment.” They were finally located, but in the meantime had been terribly decimated.
Christian soldiers, fight, always recognizing we have a directing Superior. Prayer is our life‑line. Consciously offer up prayers as often as possible. Our Master prayed. If He sought strength by prayer, how can we His followers think we can live without it? Jesus prayed frequently a great while before dawn, in the evening hours, all night, before meals, etc. We, too, need to pray frequently at dawn, noon, dusk, day and night. On coffee break, pray. Before breakfast, dinner, and supper, pray. Before we put our feet on the floor in the morning, and after we put them in the bed at night, pray. If suffering insomnia, turn sleepless hours into prayer times.
“Praying always” is what makes one a “prayer warrior,” and without exception, every conquering Christian has been a “prayer warrior.” The term itself is a wonderful paradox. It combines a word implying weakness (prayer) with one denoting strength (warrior). In prayer we are weak toward Christ. We stand before Him in our frailty and dependence, as contrasted with God’s all sufficiency and might. By kneeling in weakness toward Christ in prayer, the believer is enabled to stand strong as a warrior toward Satan. Be assured, Satan looks for prayerless saints. Nonpraying Christians tempt Lucifer to tempt them, but Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. Chrysostom said prayer was a whip to torment the devil, and to put him into another Hell. “Praying always” creates prayer warriors who fetch Christ into the battle, thereby assuring the doom of Satan.
Eph. 6:18c “. . .with all prayer. . .”
No prayer, no victory; little prayer, little victory;
Much prayer, much victory; “all prayer,” all victory.
In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian receives his armor and then, to aid him in his warfare, is given the weapon “All prayer.” Our victories in Christian living can be attributed to success in “all prayer.” Our defeats are due to failure in “all prayer.”
The phrase denotes prayer in all its many facets. As we pray “always,” in all circumstances, we must pray “with all prayer,” in many different ways. Variety in situations requires variety in prayer. As our interaction with people has variety it is not all asking, all telling, all laughing, all crying, all verbal thus it is with God.
Since prayer is effective in many forms, we should use every method and approach in prayer. Some prayers are spoken or sung, others are silent, being desires or thoughts of love directed to God. A long prayer (39 verses) was offered by Solomon at the dedication of the temple (2 CH 6). A short prayer was offered by Nehemiah when before the king (NH 2:4). We can cry in panic, as in Peter’s, “Lord, save me!” We can talk solely for pleasure, as in, “Lord, I love you. I enjoy you.”
Be versatile, learn to use “all prayer.” Thanksgivings have to be offered; pray often, “Thank you, Lord.” Confessions need to be made; say often, “I have sinned.” Make requests for ourselves, and present intercessions on behalf of others.
”All prayer” covers all settings. Public prayers in corporate worship teach and inspire others to pray. We pray in our social lives, enhancing the fellowship we enjoy with other Christians. We pray in our home lives at the family altar and at meals. We have private prayer, prayers of the closet, when we are alone with God.
These times of secret prayer will make or break your over all prayer life. My own private prayer time, having often vacillated between the extremes of joyful ups and painful downs, has evolved over the years. Daily Bible reading eventually became easy for me, but daily private prayer time continues to be difficult. I did it for years first thing in the morning, but often found myself groggy or too preoccupied with the day’s upcoming schedule to give God my best. After years of effort, I have learned the best time for me to have private prayer time is at night, before falling asleep, in preparation for the next day. As Jews did in Bible times, I view my day as beginning in the evening rather than the morning. God receives my best in the night time hours. I urge you, find what works best for you, and then stay with it.
Hudson Taylor was always pressed about with people wanting to have access to him. It was hard for him to have private time with God in prayer and Bible reading, but he knew it was vital. People who worked with him told of how they would hear a match struck at 2 a.m. and then long see the flicker of candlelight. However weary he was, Hudson Taylor’s time with God was from 2 to 4 a.m., for only then could he be undisturbed before God.
With God’s help, give yourself to developing an effective private prayer time, for without it, all else in preparation for Christian living is vain. Private prayer is the most vital element of “all prayer.” I remind us, in the private place of prayer, in the garden, Christ prayed while Peter slept. Later, in the palace, Christ was faithful and Peter fell. Let secret prayer be the reservoir from which “all prayer” flows.