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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:The Power of Your Prayer!
Text:Ephesians 6:18-20 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


(Readings: 2 Chron.30:13-27; Eph.6:10-20)


The Power of Your Prayer!



Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…


     The verses 14 till 17 described the best protection a soldier could have in the first century AD.

          Nothing could beat it – in fact with this armour you could beat them!

              This was the latest state-of-the-art personal combat gear.


     So the apostle quite rightly compares the equipment of the Roman soldier then to what the believer has to put on in his Lord Jesus Christ.

          The Christian must make sure he’s fitted up in the very best way for service to His Lord.


     But that must make us wonder, too.

          For if the verses 14 till 17 describe the very best that you can have, what else would you need?


     Imagine the equivalent in weaponry today.

          Move over Ironman!

              Time to retire Robocop!

                   No one’s going to get in your way!


     Ah, yet someone could, though.

          Even if you have the most powerful guns and the most invincible armour, you could still fall apart.

              Because it is what’s inside you that counts just as much!

     You see, it’s also about your attitude.

          It’s vitally important that your motivation is focussed the right way.


     And since this is about what matters spiritually the right frame of mind won’t be your own.

          It has to be the Lords’!

              No wonder verse 18 begins, “And pray in the Spirit…”.


     As the apostle Paul seeks to tie this altogether, he brings in what you must have to keep it altogether.

          Because you must be looking to Him!

              That’s what prayer is – it’s being completely humble before the Lord alone.


     One of the 19th century hymns expresses it well.

          Verse 3 of “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” says, “Put on the gospel armour, each piece put on with prayer; where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.”


     This is the sense which is the essence of service.

          You are ready – at any moment – to do His will.

              Because you’re right there waiting!


     The military theme fits in again so well.

          For isn’t it the good soldier who is always ready for action?

              He won’t be found lacking on the day of battle.

     In fact, every day is part of the war for him.

          He’s trained up, so that he’s psyched up.

              He’s waiting for the command.

                   Just like you have to be prayerfully looking up!


     There is a psalm which conveys this well – Psalm 123.

          The verses 1 and 2 there say, “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.

              “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.”


     Congregation, there is a total involvement here in the text.

          This is complete commitment.

              Four times the Greek word for “all” appears in verse 18.


     You see, this is no mere nominal prayer, like some would do genuflecting as they come into certain churches.

          Or perhaps quickly saying before a meal too?


     Nor can it a traditional prayer for set times and in a certain way.

          This is what fills up your life – through and through!


     All this leads us naturally into the first aspect of the text this morning.



     Think about it: If we believe in the value of commitment in a relationship, and we all do, then there must be no doubt that we must be committed to the Lord.

          Isn’t the relationship we have with Him the most important one of all?

              Isn’t that relationship the one that lasts long after any other connection has been long gone?


     That’s why this text begins by asking you about your prayer life.

          Because you do pray.

              You cannot be a believer and not pray.

     But what is the place of prayer in your life?

          How important is it to you?


     Here it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Christian for 80 years or the Lord converted you last year.

          The question comes to us all because the struggle is with us all.

              Yes, this is a battle.

     The same one we are fighting against by using the pieces of armour is the same one who strikes us at the very core of our motivation.

          The more Satan can keep us away from communing with God the more he knows he can get his way.


     A difficulty we have, however, is that we think we can stop with the pieces of armour.

          Then we may think that it’s about what we know.


     It’s quite true that knowledge is very important.

          But why is it important?

              So that we can be happy in the knowledge itself?

                   Is it all about hanging up some degree or diploma in the faith?


     Quite the opposite!

          The more you grow in the knowledge of God and what He’s done in Christ the more you are driven to prayer!


     Ah, it could actually be that we’re not growing spiritually enough at all.

          For if we were reading the Bible every day, if we were studying church history, if we were reflecting on those articles on Christian leadership – even that good series on video about biblical ethics – we would be realising more and more our need of prayer.

              Isn’t this how we are stirred whenever we go to a Christian conference?


     This word of the apostle Paul also exposes those who pray when it suits them.

          You might remember how the Sunday after 9/11 the churches in America were full.

              Whenever there’s trouble or hardship people feel the need to pray.

     But because it’s not the need to pray everyday it’s not really prayer.

          It’s no different to the man praying while stuck hanging on a piece of wood in the middle of the ocean.

              Of course he prays – he’s going to cover all his options!


     There is no sense of compulsion in what he’s doing, though.

          Unless he was a believer of course.

              For if he wasn’t and he was praying, he’s actually proving he isn’t a Christian.

                   Because that’s the only time he does it!


     The story is told of a committee that was assigned to tour a factory to judge its efficiency.

          These people were shown the various departments where many large machines were making a lot of noise.

              Then they were led to a much smaller and quieter room containing nothing but control panels.


     One of them said there, “This isn’t very important.

          “Nothing’s happening here!”


     The guide smiled, “Oh, but you misunderstand, sir.

          “This is the most important room of all.

              “This is where the power is distributed to the entire factory.”


     Dear Christian, the place of prayer is the “power room.”

          You need that room that drives all the other rooms.

              You need that quiet space, as Jesus says in Matthew 6 verse 6.


     And you need that every day.

          There’s no day you can enter into without looking His way.

              Imagine praying only on the 1st of January every year!

                   And imagine that you would pray that day, “Give us this year our annual bread!”


     Silly, isn’t it?

          Because you know you have to pray every day!

              Don’t you have to eat every day?


     So we have seen that THIS PRAYER IS ALL THE TIME.

          Next we come to the word that says THIS PRAYER IS IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS.

              As the apostle Paul goes on in verse 18, “pray … with all kinds of prayers and requests.”


     Now, we might wonder here.

          Is this about what we should have in our prayers?

              You know, something like the A.C.T.S. acronym – which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.


     Well, there is supplication here, in the word “requests.”

          So this tells us there are different parts to the prayers we pray.


     But this also tells us about the form of prayer.

          For we should not think that prayer is something done always in the same way.


     Some religions teach that.

          Five times a day you need to bow down, face a certain direction, and recite certain words.


     Not only is that very limiting, it’s not living by faith.

          Because faith is a relationship with the Lord.

              And prayer is the whole range of possible communication between you and Him.

                   There will be prayer in private, as the Lord alluded to in Matthew 6 – but also the prayer in public we heard of in 2nd Chronicles 30.


     So there is the prayer we pray on our own.

          Our Lord Himself often took such time out.

              This is the prayer you do on your own, and you should always be doing this.

     But there’s also the public prayer, church prayer, fellowship prayer.

          This is the prayer we read the apostles with the early church doing in Acts 1 verse 14 and many other places.


     There is also another distinction we make here.

          For there is the unspoken and the spoken prayer.

              You don’t always need words, and sometimes it’s good to have words.

     And you might do that prayer on your knees, sitting down, or standing up.

          It could be in a room or walking along the street.


     There was one University lecturer I knew who appreciated praying while riding his bike to work.

          He said that was his quiet time with the Lord.

              Some were a bit concerned for his safety, though.

                   They asked him if he prayed with his eyes open!


     And you can pray that way too!

          Where does it say you have to close your eyes?


     Then we can break up prayer into what is very orderly and what is quite spontaneous.

          While our prayers must be intelligible they could vary from a thorough framework to the quick cry to heaven!


     You see, the one strand you see right through all these is what you don’t see.

          Because it’s all done “in the Spirit.”


     Then, my friend, how long you take won’t matter.

          Whether that is privately or publicly.

              Because you are talking to God.

     And talking to Him in a real and meaningful way.

          No vain repetition here.

              Rather, the Spirit with our spirits communes in the most special way to the Lord.


     This leads invariably on to the next aspect in the text.

          For, in the third place, THIS PRAYER IS WHAT KEEPS ON GOING.

              Our third aspect.

                   As verse 18 goes on we must “be alert and keep on praying.”


     Elsewhere, in 1st Thessalonians 5 verse 17, Paul urges us to “pray continually.”

          Here he joins it to the military theme by urging us to “be alert.”

              Because it’s by realising this is a battle that you know you have to keep fighting for it.


     Now, who of us hasn’t found praying really hard work?

          It can be difficult and boring.

              Or so the devil makes us think!

                   For we have to realise who we’re up against.


     You know, we often think of prayer as preparation for the battle.

          But Christ showed us that prayer is the battle itself.

              Because prayer was certainly the heart of His work.


     I mean, where was it that Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood?

          It wasn’t in Pilate’s hall, nor on His way to Calvary.

              It was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

                   Of that Hebrews 5 verse 7 says, “he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death…”.


     Imagine if you had been there that night.

          You might have completely misunderstood it.

              You could have thought, “If He’s so broken up when all He’s doing is praying, what will He do when He faces a real crisis?

                   “Why can’t He accept it like His three sleeping friends?


     Yet when the test came, Jesus walked to the cross with courage.

          And who fell apart and ran away?


     It was Jesus, who, in the words of Romans 12: 12 had been “faithful in prayer.”

          He had kept on praying and so been open to the Lord’s guiding.


     But then the apostle ends our text on a different level for prayer altogether.

          For now Paul brings in the aspect that THIS PRAYER IS FOR GOD’S PEOPLE.

              Our fourth aspect.


     This is how verse 18 ends.

          It urges us to keep on praying “for all the saints.”


     And here we include the verses 19 and 20 also.

          Because there Paul encourages them to pray for him, as one of the saints, and especially as the apostle the Lord has commissioned to declare the gospel to the gentiles.


     Now, you might wonder what’s meant when I said that this takes prayer to a whole different level.

          Well, it’s because it joins us in a special way to others in our prayer.

              We can easily get the idea that prayer is something personal and that it’s an individual thing.

     The devil especially tricks us with this.

          Through prayer that is basically focussed on our own situations we begin to think we’re having a pretty hard time of it.

              But to pray for others, and to keep praying for others, makes you realise, as Paul says in 1st Corinthians 10:13 that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”

     You’re not alone at all.

          In fact, all Christians are going through the same.


     A friend of mine once was going through a difficult time.

          And listening to him tell about it, it was a very hard time.

              His young son had died and his wife had gone off with another man.

                   He was left with a daughter to raise.


     He said that what particularly encouraged him was praying for all the members of his congregation.

          Doing that he soon realised that many of them were going through severe difficulties as well.

              It put his situation in a completely different light.


     Could that have been one reason why Paul had such a big prayer list?

          Romans 16, for example, has 28 names – and that’s not counting the general families and churches he mentions.

              And then there are some 8 people who ask to send their greetings along with Paul in that chapter.

     Apart from the fact that he knew so many people, wouldn’t it have been an encouragement to him to lay before the Lord those who were also suffering for the sake of the gospel?

          And, believe me, Paul could really have become self-centred in his prayers if, just for a moment, he started to think about what he was going through!


     And then think about what you’re praying for your fellow saints.

          Paul, for instance, asks that they ask the Lord that he be given the words to say and that he may be able to declare it fearlessly.


     But this would be something those saints themselves would need as well.

          So in praying this for others you also realise it for yourself too.


     Some might call it positive reinforcement.

          The Lord calls it prayer.


     Ralph Martin makes a perceptive comment about what Paul asks for here.

          He says that while Paul is Christ’s “ambassador” he enjoys no diplomatic immunity.

              In fact, he is “in chains.”


     Congregation, in this way we realise the central theme of the text this morning.

          For this is about ‘The Power of Your Prayer.’

              Because without it you would be very weak.

     It’s prayer which is the spiritual power source.

          It’s prayer which keeps the whole armour of God together.

              Even when you have no physical armour whatsoever!

     In fact, even when they’ve thrown you into jail itself!





Let’s pray…

     O loving Heavenly Father, we thank You that any time at all we can go to You in prayer.

          You are never too busy to hear.

              In fact, You love it the more we do it with You.

     Please help us, by Your Spirit, to fight the good fight by making prayer a delight.

          In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2008, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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