Anchored Day 15 Prayer Wrestlers: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Is it actually possible to obey the command ‘pray at all times’? And if so, how?

2) Is there an intentional distinction Paul is making between praying and requesting?

3) Based on this verse, are we as believers responsible to constantly pray for every other believer we know?

Ephesians 6:18

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

Original Intent

1) How is it actually possible to obey Paul’s command to ‘pray at all times’?
The apostle Paul had personally ministered to the church at Ephesus during his second and third missionary journeys. Now in prison, he was writing to exhort them to mature in their faith. In the verses preceding (verses 10-17), Paul begins wrapping up his letter. After pouring his heart out to them about the gift of grace they had received as a gospel community (chapters 1-3), Paul gives clarifying instructions for those called out of darkness (chapter 4-5) as believers.  Walking in the light of Christ would inevitably lead to persecution and personal temptation to give up. They needed the reminder it was prayer and power of God through the Spirit providing them with strength to persevere. In verses 11-17 Paul wants the Ephesians to envision a very real world they could not see with human eyes. Paul’s command to ‘pray at all times’ emphasized how they needed to possess a sensitivity to the constant presence of God.  Their maturity would be evidenced by their dependence on Him in every circumstance. ‘Praying at all times’ was a heart posture, understanding their need for God to work on their behalf. John MacArthur said: ”Prayer is like our breath. You don’t have to think to breathe because the air exerts pressure on your lungs and forces you to breathe. All the time you fight, you are breathing and breathing, as it were, in prayer.”

2) Is there an intentional distinction Paul is making between praying and requesting?
The different translations of verse 18 give us different English words for “request”.  A few examples are: supplication, petition, and entreaty. Each of these translations use the conjunction and to separate the two words, indicating they are different. The Bible provides us with many types of prayers and translators utilize a variety of English words to communicate the original Greek meaning. For example, 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.” In this verse, four Greek words are used regarding prayer.
Here in Ephesians 6:18, Strong’s Concordance tells us the Greek rendering is best understood to be translated “prayer and entreaty, as of a need”.
Of course, all petitions offered to God are considered prayer, but it’s important to understand not all prayers are petitions. For example, other prayers might include thanksgiving or consecration. In this case, Paul is urging the reader to pray earnestly for other believers, specifically that God will meet their needs as it relates to their spiritual fight against the unseen enemy. In his prayer (communion with God), he’s making a request.

3) Based on this verse, are we as believers responsible to constantly pray for every believer we know (‘all’ the saints)?
In the context of the chapter, prayer is mentioned as a part of the spiritual armor that is to be “worn” by the believer. The reason for the armor is the reality of spiritual battles taking place between the Ruler of Darkness and the Lord of Life. Three times in verse 18 Paul uses the word “all”.  At all times … with all perseverance … for all the saints. Even if we are part of a very small local church, this seems like an overwhelming task. Is Paul commanding us to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ without ever stopping? Yes and no! Paul is emphasizing the importance of prayer in the life of every believer. We pray for ourselves and we pray for others. It’s so necessary that Paul mentions it in every epistle/letter he writes. He often even shares with the recipients the very prayers he is praying for them. In this same letter to the Ephesians he says to them “I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayer.” This is not an indication, though, that he never pauses or breaks in praying for them specifically. We know that because he says something similar in Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. What it does indicate is that Paul doesn’t forget them when he’s praying. Additionally, Paul includes “as I remember you”, indicating that as the Spirit leads him to specifically remember his fellow co-laborers in the gospel, Paul is faithfully obedient to intercede for them.

Everyday Application

1) Is it possible to obey the command ‘pray at all times’? And if so, how?
We pray at all times by remaining connected to God in our spirits/hearts. As we walk in the Spirit, we commune with God. Sometimes it’s with spoken words. Sometimes it is with silent cries, deep in our souls. We pray at all times by acknowledging the Spirit is the One enabling us to carry out the work of God in our lives. It is the Spirit empowering us to live out our faith. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control … If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-24) Jesus encouraged His disciples to remain in a prayerful attitude: “Now He told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) The point of prayer is always about growing the relationship between you and God!

2) Is there an intentional distinction Paul is making between praying and requesting?
New Testament scholar William Mounce states the Greek word used here is used 18 other times in the New Testament. Yes, Paul encourages his reader to pray always, but within our prayers, he desires us to include earnest pleas for God to work in the lives of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in desperate situations. When we pray, we thank God, we sing to God, and we petition God, but sometimes we are called to spend time in concentrated focus, crying out to God for those in the faith family. Maybe we know of financial needs, or physical needs, or marital issues or spiritual battles. In these cases, we arm ourselves with God’s word and we pour our hearts out to God, for as long as it takes. (Resolute, tenacious, perseverant prayers!)

3) Based on this verse, are we as believers responsible to constantly pray for every other believer we know?
Maybe you know someone you’d consider a “prayer warrior”. We usually refer to them as such because we’ve seen them pray and heard them pray for many years. Maybe we’ve even been a recipient of an answered prayer because they’ve taken our name to the Lord multiple times. People like this usually demonstrate a faithfulness to prayer and a faith in God over a long period of time.
Yes, it’s physically impossible to pray for every believer we know all day long, every minute of the day, we are called to have an open heart-attitude with the Lord, ready to speak to Him and listen to His voice as He reminds us to pray for others. We are to remember the names and requests of believers and un-believers alike, having an attitude of readiness at any given moment to fight for others in prayer. We should be known for keeping our word to pray for our brothers and sisters when they ask us to remember them. If we are prone to forget, it is important to set up reminders so we will continue in prayer for our friends in the faith.
Prayer is a battlefield. We are soldiers. We play a crucial role in the war against the powers of darkness. As we are able, we should remain in a constant attitude of prayer, talking to our Father about all of His children.

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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