Prayer is a battleground.
After teaching believers to take up the defensive parts of the armor of God, Paul gives them an offensive weapon - God's Word - and then takes them to the battleground to fight.
Truth. Righteousness. Readiness given by the Gospel of peace. Faith. Salvation. These are the things that protect. God's Word is the only sword we need. But the battle is very, very real. And the battleground itself - prayer - doubles as a second offensive weapon. That's why Paul tells us to pray "in the Spirit" - which simply means "in the control of" the Spirit. Paul knows that we don't know how to pray as we should, which is why the Spirit prays for us (see Rom. 8).
We've been looking at Paul's prayers - at their meaning and their significance for becoming world Christians. As those involved in missions (either as go-ers or senders) we have to be aware of the profound lesson Paul is teaching here. He's teaching them how to pray warfare prayers - and gives them two assignments right away:
* Pray for the saints with perserverance.
* Pray for Paul to proclaim the Gospel boldly.
Paul knew the utter necessity of prayer for the advance of the kingdom. He also knew that the kingdom advance was countered at each step by the enemy. Prayer doesn't just make things easier - it makes things possible. It isn't a convenience, but a necessity. As a testimony, Paul asks prayer for himself, for the one thing that the Ephesians would likely think Paul had in abundance - boldness. We don't think of Paul as timid, yet his willingness to ask for holy boldness lets us see that indeed he recognized that only reliance on God's Spirit could accomplish the kingdom advance.
How does this relate to becoming world Christians? First, the obvious - prayer is essential. We need to pray warfare prayers over our missionary prayer list. If you're on the field, you need to fight battles on your knees, and involve the folks back home with specific requests. Second, less obvious is that we don't need to assume that the perceived "strengths" in ourselves or others will not be areas of attack. Instead, pray for that person's boldness, or faith, or purity, or whatever you think comes "naturally". Pray for weak areas, and strong ones. Each are subject to attack from the enemy. Finally, pray "for all the saints". Realize, as Paul did, that missions isn't a job for professionals. It's a task for all of us. We're all on mission with God and we all need to realize that. Pray kingdom prayers for the believers in your house and church and school and workplace. Use all the weapons Paul taught in the battleground of prayer. And then walk through the doors He opens in the halls of life!
Prayer: Lord, help us to grasp the battle. Help us to understand that You have given us tools to fight for kingdom advance, not merely the comforts of home life. Then guide us as we learn to fight on the battleground of prayer.