“Stand Firm Through Prayer”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.18-20
Ephesians 6 … In WWII, the Japanese were expert code breakers. When Allied forces would transmit orders to their troops over radio in code, the Japanese could break any new communication code as soon as it began to be implemented.
Philip Johnston, because he grew up with his missionary parents on a Navajo reservation, figured that the Navajo language was unique enough to be unbreakable. Navajo is a tonal language, which means that it relies heavily on the pitch of your voice to distinguish between similar words. That includes even using the nasal passageways. This makes it incredibly difficult to learn; and plus there was no dictionary or grammar in print; so there was no way for the Japanese to decipher the code.
They started using the code and the Japanese were never able to break it.
And had it not been for the Navajo people, the US would never had won the Japanese island of Iwo Jima…. That five-week battle that saw some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific during World War II….It’s probably best known for that iconic image of 6 US Armed force members raising the flag over Iwo Jima.
Major Howard Conner, the Fifth Marine Division’s Signal Officer, said that ‘The entire operation was directed by Navajo code. . . . During the two days that followed the initial landings I had six Navajo radio nets working around the clock. . . . They sent and received over 800 messages without an error. Were it not for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines never would have taken Iwo Jima.’
You can see the importance of communication with the generals in warfare. Because the Navajo communicated effectively, they stood firm against the enemy…and won the battle.
And you are constantly in a battle…the battle of all the ages, a spiritual battle. To win spiritual battles…whether it’s victory over sin, temptations, or spiritually helping others … to win spiritual battles, you must pray!
Let’s read our text now …
Ephesians 6:18–20 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
I’d like to preach to you this morning that you “Stand firm through Prayer.”
Just two major points this morning. First, we’ll discover how prayer relates to our Christian armor. And second, we’ll learn what kind of praying it is that gains the victory in warfare.
So, first this morning … how prayer relates to our Christian armor.
1. How prayer relates to our Christian armor:
A. Prayer relates to Christian armor, first, because it’s by prayer that we put it on. It’s by prayer that we put on the whole armor of God. The whole armor is put on through prayer.
So, note this that you must prayerfully put on the whole armor.
We see this in the passage. Drop back to verse 14.
Ephesians 6:14 14 Stand firm […from verse 11, the idea is to stand firm against Satan’s schemes… his evil plans to tempt you and to get you down…Stand firm ] therefore, [how…? How are you going to stand firm against Satan’s schemes? Answer… keep going in verse 14 … by ] having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
…and by putting on the rest of the armor.
You must stand firm against Satan’s schemes. To do that, you must put on the whole armor of God.
That’s great, but how do you put on the whole armor? How do we put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel boots, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit?
How? By praying! Look at verse 18. It’s literally…as your version may read… “praying with all prayer and supplication.”
So the idea is this … put on the whole armor by … verse 18 … by “praying with all prayer.” And my point here is that you stand firm by putting on God’s whole armor and to put on God’s whole armor takes prayer…you must prayerfully put on God’s whole armor.
So, stand firm by putting on God’s whole armor. How are you going to put on God’s armor? Only with prayer. You must prayerfully put on God’s whole armor. Without prayer, you can’t put on the whole armor.
And so the topics that we addressed in the armor should be regularly in your prayers. Which of these pieces of armor are not a part of your regular praying? There are some of these that I need to work on … which ones do you need to work on?
Verse 14 … Prayerfully put on the belt of truth … what’s that? … Deepen Your Commitment to the Gospel.
Do you pray over the gospel? Do you praise Him regularly for Christ and His work? Do you pray that our church would remain faithful to it? Pray over the gospel and that you’d live it out; that you’d live a life worthy of it.
Prayerfully put on the breastplate of righteousness … which is to Deepen Your Commitment to Righteous Living
Do you pray that you would grow in righteousness? Do you pray that you would be righteous with your family, in public, with God’s people and lost people? Pray for your own spiritual growth in righteous living.
Verse 15 .. Prayerfully put on God’s gospel boots which is to Deepen Your Commitment to Readiness to Share the Gospel
Do you pray that you would be ready to share the gospel?
ILL: Dr. Walter Wilson, …. whose book of soul winning stories I have … was always praying that he could speak to men about their souls and their need of the Saviour. One day he pulled into a full service Sinclair gas station and he asked the gas attendant: “How did sin get in Sinclair?” pointing to the lighted sign above the gas pump. The gas attendant replied … “I do not know, how sin got into Sinclair; but, sir, I have wished many times that I knew how to get sin out of my life!”
Dr. Wilson took the opportunity to tell him of the One who is the sinner’s friend and of whom it is written: “And thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Pray that you’d be ready to share the gospel!
Verse 16 … Prayerfully take up the shield of faith: Deepen Your Commitment to Trusting God
Do you thank God that you can trust Him? Do you ask Him for more help to trust Him? Do you praise Him for all the reasons why you can trust Him? These are ways to deepen your commitment to trusting God. Pray about trusting Him.
Verse 17 … Prayerfully take the helmet of salvation: Deepen Your Commitment to Attaining Assurance of Salvation
If you’re lacking assurance, have you made progress in attaining assurance of salvation? Do you know what it is to be secure in Christ? Do you thank the Lord that your salvation is secure and are you asking for assurance? Praise God for the assurance of salvation.
And finally …
Prayerfully take the Sword of the Spirit: Deepen Your Commitment to Wielding the Word of God
We are to use God’s words in our lives. What issue are you struggling with? Use the words of God to overcome your spiritual battles. Memorize, study, and apply those words to your specific situation. And then preach God’s very words to yourself and to others who need it.
Pray over God’s words. Get serious about using God’s words in your life and in the life of others; it takes praying over God’s words.
Pray over God’s words.
TRANS: So, prayer relates to our Christian armor, first, because it’s by prayer that we put it on. It’s by prayer that put on the whole armor of God. The whole armor is put on through prayer.
And secondly, it’s through prayer that we learn to use the armor.
B. Through prayer, we learn to use the armor.
As you pray over the topics of the Christian armor, not only are you putting on the armor but you are learning to use it.
It is not good enough to have armor on. You must also use it.
ILL: Let me get you to turn over to 2 Samuel 5:22. 2 Samuel 5:22. What we’ll learn here is that through prayer, God can teach us to use our armor in the battle. So therefore, we must be in constant prayer to the Lord of the battle. David knew that only the Lord could give him true wisdom in warfare.
2 Samuel 5:22–25 22 Now the Philistines came up once again and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 23 When David inquired of the Lord, He [the LORD] said, “You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. 24 “It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” 25 Then David did so, just as the Lord had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.
Through prayer, God can taught David how to fight in battle. David knew that the Lord was the one to give true wisdom in warfare. When the enemy came up against David and his men, David prayed to the Lord. He prayed to the Lord. And the Lord answered him giving him wisdom in the battle. David then knew how and where to use his armor.
That’s true for David in physical warfare, how much more is it true for us in our daily spiritual warfare? And so it is through prayer then that we learn to use our spiritual armor.
You might feel yourself to be “unskilled in the word of righteousness” yet he can give you the ability to be his spokesman. If you pray and keep on praying, he will train you for the fight … And you’ll be able to say with David in Ps. 144 … “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle.”
We can turn back to Ephesians 6:18 now …
TRANS: So it is through prayer that we put on the whole armor of God … and it’s by prayer that we learn to use the armor, and it’s also by prayer that we gain the victory.
C. It’s how we gain the victory
EXP: By prayer you will gain the victory in your spiritual battles. You will successfully stand firm against Satan’s schemes by putting on the whole armor of God. And how are you going to put on the whole armor of God? By praying! So be sure to make the topics in the armor of God a regular part of your praying.
Praying puts on the armor, and through prayer, the Lord teaches you to use the armor, and it’s by prayer that we’ll also gain the victory.
ILL: there are multiple stories in the Old Testament that closely tie victory in warfare with prayer.
There was a time in the life of King Jehoshaphat that Moab, Ammon, and others came up to make war against Jehoshaphat.
Jehoshaphat was afraid but he turned his attention to seek the Lord and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah …. and all Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord … they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord.
And Jehoshaphat stands in the assembly of the gathered people of Judah and Jerusalem and he prays and confesses that power and might are in the hand of God. Maybe you feel like this sometimes when Jehoshaphat prays, “there’s a great multitude who are coming against us… And we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
And then the spirit of the Lord comes upon Jahaziel and he raises his voice in thegreat assembly and says “do not fear or be dismayed because of this great army that has come against you, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
And the next day when they go out to battle, Jehoshaphat encourages the people by saying, “put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established; put your trust in his prophets and succeed.”
And they knew that the battle was the Lord’s and so they send out the choir before the army. How’s that for a military strategy! And when they got to the battlefield, their enemy had already been annihilated.
The battle is the Lord’s.
APP: what are you going through? What trial or struggle? If you are saved you are bearing his name on your life. And God cares about His own testimony in your life. Is not the battle the LORDs? Is his glory not at stake? We must pray that his glory be revealed through His victory over our trial or sin struggle!
Pray! Pray through! Pray through the topics of the Christian armor and let him teach you to put on the armor, let him teach you to use the armor and to gain the victory in the day of battle.
But it’s going to take prayer! Prayer is essential in Christian warfare.
TRANS: So what is the praying that gets the victory?
Second major point this morning, The praying that gains victory
Someone who is born again prays. A Christian soldier is somebody who is in contact with the great commander, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 14:4 4 Do all the workers of wickedness not know, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord?
The workers of wickedness do not call upon the Lord. Will you refuse to pray?
What prayer is it that gains the victory? 3 points here … Comprehensive praying, Holy Spirit-empowered praying, and Persevering praying. These are all found in Ephesians 6:18.
So first, comprehensive praying. Comprehensive praying gets the victory in our spiritual battles. Comprehensive praying is “all prayers for all the saints.”
A. Comprehensive Praying: All prayers for all saints
Eph. 6:18: With all prayer and petition pray … and at the end of the verse…we are to pray for all the saints. “All prayer for all the saints.”
Paul is emphasizing the importance of prayer in this verse. He does that by using the word “all” four times in Ephesians 6:18.
We stand firm by praying with “all” prayer and petition.
And we pray at “all” times in the spirit. We are to be on the alert with “all” perseverance and petition for “all” the saints.
Paul is emphasizing the importance of prayer by using the word “all” four times.
He’s also emphasizing the importance of prayer by using words that mean the same thing for prayer. Prayer, petition, pray, and petition occurs again at the end of the verse.
Paul is emphasizing the importance of prayer by using words for prayer that mean the same thing: to pray. All these same words for prayer are piled on to emphasize the need for prayer.
So your praying is to be comprehensive: that’s why Paul uses the word “all” four times and why he piles on synonymous words for prayer. “All prayers.”
TRANS: You can also note here that your prayers are not to be self-centered. You are to pray on behalf of all of God’s people
It says that we are to pray “for all the saints.” This is be the believers in your family the believers in this church and the believers that you know of in another parts of the world.
And so you pray for all of us that those topics in the armor of God would be made a reality in each of our lives. Pray for us.
And Paul asks prayer for himself in verses 19-20.
Ephesians 6:19–20 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul was persecuted and he is now in prison. He is ambassador in chains; he represents the Lord Jesus Christ as he goes about in the earth. He represents the King of all the kings and because of that very representation, he’s in prison.
And so he asks for boldness to preach. And in his persecution, Paul does not ask that his wrists be unchained, but that his mouth be opened, and his tongue loosed … to speak forth that which the King of kings had given Him to speak: the death and resurrection of Christ that whosoever trusts in Him would not eternally perish.
And you too, though you are not persecuted physically…you can make enemies real fast for preaching your exclusive viewpoint on things. Notwithstanding, give out the Scripture! You represent the King of the Ages and your job in part is to proclaim the claims of the King.
We don’t pray for Paul today, but we can pray for our pastors. Pray for me, your pastor as I preach each Sunday….to make known the gospel of your salvation…how each person on earth can be made righteous before God b/c of the Christ’s cross and resurrection…if sinners would but embrace the mighty arms of God.
And so I ask you … as your pastor….as that good tent meeting hymn goes … “Will you pray with all your power while we try to preach the word? All is vain unless the Spirit of the holy one comes down.” Would you pray each Sunday morning that souls would be saved and hearts strengthened?
TRANS: So you need comprehensive praying. You must pray for all the saints and to do so with all prayer. But as well, when you pray you need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. You need Holy Spirit-empowered praying.
B. Spirit Empowered Praying
Paul says in Ephesians 6:18 that we are to pray at all times “in the Spirit.” We just had a mention of the Holy Spirit …if you’d look at verse 17 where we are told to take up the sword of the [who? Of the] Spirit which is the word of God … and now in the very next verse we are to pray in the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the point: The same one who gave us the Scripture is the same one who empowers our praying. Pray in the Spirit!
So how do you know if you are praying in the spirit? The Holy Spirit will be guiding your prayer life when you are praying the words that he gave to us. When we are praying God’s words back to him.
The Holy Spirit will guide you in your prayer life to pray God’s will back to him. As Jesus said “ask anything according to my will.” The Spirit’s sword is best wielded when empowered by Him in prayer.
And the most meaningful prayers as you pray them or you pray with others are those that reflect God’s words. If you fail to retain God’s words in their hearts and use them in prayer, there will be little praying in the Holy Spirit.
Putting verses 17 and 18 together, Holy Spirit-empowered praying is praying God’s words back to him.
This is what we attempt to do each Sunday morning. After, we read the word of God together I attempt to pray back these very words to him, knowing that they are his will. So you too, when you read the word of God in your personal and family devotions, you pray his words back to him. When you do that you are expressing to Him your desire to line up with Him and you are praying that others would line up with His will as well.
TRANS: So what is the prayer that gets the victory? The praying that wins spiritual battles is …
First, victorious prayer comprehensive praying … it’s praying “all prayers” for “all saints”
Second, victorious prayer is Holy Spirit-empowered praying…
and finally victorious praying is Persevering Praying
C. Persevering Praying
We are to pray at all times, and to be alert, with all perseverance. First, verse 18 says we are to pray at all times.
EXP: Pray at all times…that literally means to pray “at every opportunity.”
At every opportunity that you have, you ought to pray. This is similar to what Paul exhorts us in 1 Thess. 5:17 that we “pray without ceasing.”
ILL: Praying without ceasing is illustrated in the life of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the king of Persia. And Nehemiah was sad in the king’s presence because Jerusalem is desolate and its gates were burned with fire. And the king says to him “What would you request?” And then Nehemiah tell us the readers this … “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” And then Nehemiah spoke and requested that the king send him to Judah so that he may rebuild Jerusalem and the king granted his request.
But here’s the point: Nehemiah prayed to God while he was serving the king…while he was on the job! He didn’t run off and have an hour prayer meeting and come back … no, he shot up a quick pray … you could imagine he prayed real fast in his heart, “LORD God, grant that I request form the king what you want and that the king receive my request.”
And so the point is not that you are to have a 16 hour prayer meeting every day, but that you should pray at every opportunity…all your concerns for other saints are immediately given to the Lord as soon as they are a concern to you, you give them over to Him right away, never delay.
APP: So, yes go to work, but keep praying in your heart as you go. Don’t turn down an opportunity to pray. As issues present themselves to you throughout the day, immediately throw those cares upon your Caring Commander.
Your warfare will not cease until the end, so you need to keep praying.
APP: Do you skip opportunities to pray or do you pray at every opportunity? Question: What would it take to keep you from a prayer meeting? Medical reasons? Ok … we want you and everyone else healthy, ok … ice on the road…ok…your employer in the will of God … ok … but what else would it take to keep you from prayer meeting?
Our church has a prayer meeting every Thursday night … it’s an opportunity to pray… do you refuse it?
Let your whole life…with all it’s trials, joys, and struggles be one big praise and prayer to God. As you get outside yourself and start getting concerned for others…let all those requests be made known unto God.
TRANS: How are you going to pray all prayer and petition at every opportunity empower by the Spirit? By staying alert to prayer.
You need to stay alert to prayer!
EXP: Verse 18….with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit and with this in view … or …. in order to do this is kind of the idea … be on the alert. To pray like this will take that you be alert to this pray.
Be mindful of it, get serious about it…Get serious about praying for other believers. Get serious about praying at every opportunity by making prayer meeting and by praying about your concerns for the saints as soon as they arise in your heart.
Prayer has a prodding sister named alertness. “Watch and pray,” Jesus says … “keep on the alert at all times, praying…”
And it’s interesting that every time when this word alert occurs with prayer elsewhere in the NT, it has an end times focus.
For example …
Luke 21:36 “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Are you watching and praying, alert at all times as you the great Day of God approaching? Are you living your life as one big prayer to God knowing that He could come at any moment? When he comes, will He find you waiting and watching and praying…or will he find you sleeping, eating and drinking and being merry?
Isaiah 62:6–7 6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen [these are men who would be alert and ready. Isaiah uses them here to refer to those who pray… REPEAT]; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; 7 And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Pray that you and others would be ready for Christ’s coming! Be a watchmen for God; never keep silent, remind Him of His promises and His will…take no rest…pray at all times, keeping alert to that end. Establish a watch in the kitchen and in the office; never keep silent on your lazy boy and in your tractor; make your truck the holy of holies, offering evening and morning sacrifices unto the Lord your God.
TRANS: This end times focus in the word ‘alert’ makes sense in light of our need now … as verse 18 says… to persevere in prayer.
Be on the alert with all perseverance. Persevere until the end.
Perseverance just means to keep going and not stop. Pray for all the saints at all times until He takes you home or He comes back.
When you have freedom in your heart, or if you’re alone, be in prayer … praying for others.
Ro. 12:12, Col. 4:2, and Acts 1:14, 2:42 … all encourage us to devote ourselves to prayer and keeping alert in it. Give yourself over to prayer.
Pray that God would wake you up, that you would be alert in prayer.
Be alert in it; plan your prayer life. Be intentional about it.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 6.18-20
John Bunyan in his Pilgrim’s Progress writes about Christian and how he used the weapon “all prayer” win the battle.
Bunyan looks and behold the mouth of hell…and there are flames and smoke, sparks and hideous noises…and so he takes up his weapon called “All-prayer.” And so he cried out “O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul!”
Then he went on a great while after that in his walk with God under that strength …
Children of God, the love of God constrains you to go to Him for the sake of your souls and the souls of others, just like a beggar would constantly ask for everything he needs.
All of what you have ever needed as well as what those for whom you pray have needed has come from nowhere else, other than God himself. All the food for your soul and body, the water for body and soul, …you have nothing that you haven’t received. Your soul and body prosper to the degree that God has prospered you; there is no such thing as a self-made man.
And when you pray, your prayers ascend to heaven to appear before an infinitely merciful God…how much have you needed? And how much has God provided? Will he not provide again? He has heard you when times are good; he’s heard you when times are bad… he’s known you when you’ve spurned him and he’s cared for you when you rejected him.
Remember His goodness to you and… “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,”
And be ever mindful, O my soul, to “Bless the Lord and never forget all of His great benefits.”
Stand up stand up for Jesus 581. third stanza third line of that stanza: ‘each piece put on with prayer.’