Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Whole Armor of God, Part 12A

Today I continue my series of articles commenting on the concept and principles involved in the Armor of God, which the apostle Paul described in the New Testament. This is the topic of the Sunday school lesson I am currently teaching. This week I start a three-part discussion on Ephesians 6:18.

The Armor of God – Pray. Watch. Preserve

Pray. Watch. Persevere. (Ephesians 6:18)

Prayer can be either addressed to another person, usually someone of a higher social status than one’s self, or to God. It is often an earnest request but need not be confined to requests. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians prayer is being addressed to God.

Watch, is to keep alert, awake, observant, and vigilant for the protection of something valuable.

Persevere, is to continue in the pursuit of something in spite of the difficulties encountered.\

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…” (Ephesians 6:18).

People who are born again have as their Father, God the Father. They can go directly into His presence by prayer: Addressing Him as Father (Galatians 4:6). They are born of the Spirit (John 3:6) by the will of God and are adopted as His children (John 1:12-14; Galatians 4:5). The veil in the Temple, separating where God dwelt from the rest of the temple, has been torn in two. Indicating that the way to God is open for all to approach Him (Hebrews 9:3-8; Luke 23:45). It is in Jesus that we are accepted by God (Ephesians 1:6) and we are instructed to pray in Jesus name (Galatians 4:7; John 16:23, 24).

Prayer is talking with God just as you would another person. Remember, God is a person with His own sovereign free will to do as He chooses. God hears whatever we ask according to His will and will grant us our petition (I John 5:14). We are told to cast all of our care and anxieties upon Him and to go before Him with our petitions in thanksgiving (I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6). The Apostle Paul writes, that not being thankful to God and not glorifying Him as God has turned thankless people’s hearts away from the truth about God (Romans 1:21).

We have a High Priest in heaven who has compassion for us and who has been temped in every way, yet without sin. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace; that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). God is listening for the cry of the righteous and ready to help (Psalms 34:15). He is also listening for the sinner to repent and ask forgiveness of sins (Luke 15:4-7; Luke 18:14, 15).

Prayer is to be in faith without doubting (James 1:5-7). Doubt causes faith to be canceled. This is what happened to Peter when he went to Jesus walking on the water. Once he doubted he began to sink (Matthew 14:25-32). Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” When you pray, “Believe that you receive your request and you will have it.” (Mark 11:22-24). “Whatsoever you say, not doubting in your heart, you shall have.” (Mark 11:23). This means that you need to be careful what you say. Your words can either promote life or they can destroy life. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:” (Proverbs 18:21a).

If you are suffering from some illness or something else: then pray (James 5:13a). If you are happy: then sing Psalms (James 5:13b). Singing to God is a form of prayer. There are instances in the Holy Bible where God acted in response to singing. Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail is one instance. There was an earthquake (Acts 16:25-34). Another was when Jehoshaphat and Judah fought against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir. When Judah began to sing praises to God the Lord caused their enemies to fight each other and annihilate themselves.

Prayer for the sick offered in faith will cause the sick to be healed. If they have sinned it will be forgiven (James 5:15). The prayer of righteous people can accomplish much (James 5:16). God wants us to pay for all men: especially that they are saved (I Timothy 2:1-4). We are to pray that God will send workers to lost sinners to win them to Christ (Luke 10:2).

Importunity is important in prayer. It means to keep up it until the desired results arrive. “And he (Jesus) spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, ‘There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?’” (Luke 18:1-7).

We are not to pray for appearances sake. Don’t just do it to impress others. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:5, 6).

We are not to use vain repetitions when we pray. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matthew 6:7, 8)

Jesus gave us a sample prayer to follow. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13).

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