March 23 – Prayer

Today, we are going to finish reading through the Book of Ephesians. Tomorrow we are going to begin preparing for Easter as we go through Jesus’ last week on earth and his crucifixion and resurrection.

Ephesians 6: 18 – 24 NLT

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Final Greetings

21 To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Finally, Paul tells us to pray. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere”. Again, this is something where Jesus sets an example for us. He prayed often and in many circumstances. He taught the disciples how to pray, and that prayer – The Lord’s Prayer – is well known. Probably his most famous prayer moment was in the Garden of Gethsemane. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 literally tells us to never stop praying. I suspect this is an area of our lives that each one of us finds difficult; I know I do. We tend to rush through busy days, and tackle our problems on our own. Paul tells us to pray at all times – there is never anything too mundane or too small that we can’t pray about it. We can pray on every occasion – religious days, on special occasions, before we start our day, before we approach someone about a difficult issue – you name it, we can pray.

Paul tells us to pray for believers everywhere. Right now, we can certainly pray for our new pastor. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to come into a city new to him and his family, and be the lead pastor in a church where he never sees all the people, and the ones he does see have their faces covered with masks. Pray for our church staff as they try to figure out how best to continue with their work at LSA during the pandemic both in-person and online. Pray for the missionaries we support at LSA. Both the Reaumes (Nigeria) and the Potmas (Czech Republic) are here in Canada working at their overseas missions by phone and online. Think of the time difference between here and there – 5 or more hours. They are up in the night talking and planning with their teams in those parts of the world. Pray for Becky Ferguson that she stays safe living in Prague, and that her work there can continue despite the challenges of the lockdowns there. And let’s pray for each other at LSA.

As we close our study of Ephesians, here are some things to really think about. As I mentioned yesterday, I do consult commentaries as I write the devotions. For Ephesians, the commentary that I liked best is Living Insights – New Testament Commentary (Galatians/Ephesians) by Charles R. Swindoll published by Tyndale House Publishers in 2015. One of the things I really liked about this commentary were the sections which Swindoll called Application. Today, I’m going to cite a long passage at the end of the Ephesians commentary that is the Application of Ephesians 6: 14 – 20. This really made me think. Just like you, I’m not perfect, and I need to be challenged in my faith, and this section really did that. So today, I’m going to share it with you.

“Have you put on God’s full armour? How prepared are you to stand strong when the next wave of Satan’s attacks tries to knock you to the ground? Think through the pieces of armour Paul listed and evaluate the state of your readiness today.

The belt of truth. How well are you living the truth of God’s Word? Are there any areas of your life where your integrity could be called into question? Secrets you’re hiding? Sins you’re concealing? Ongoing deceptions or half-truths you just can’t live with anymore/ Take steps today to tighten the belt of truth before you lose control.

The breastplate of righteousness. Have you been content merely to receive the grace of justification – being declared righteous by God – but reluctant to yield to the grace of sanctification – being made more righteous by the work of the Spirit? Are there clear areas in your life in which personal morality and holiness have been compromised? Are there chinks in your armour that could easily become primary targets for Satan’s precision archers? What can you do to strengthen these weak places?

The boots of peace. What happens when troubles come your way? How do you respond? Do you tend to let go of God and panic? Or are you learning to hold fast to Him and the promises He has made? What specific “faith builders” do you have in your life to help keep your shield in good repair? Do you read Scripture regularly? Fellowship faithfully at your church? Build strong relationships with fellow believers? How sure is your defence against the fiery arrows of the wicked one?

The helmet of salvation. Do you have full assurance of your salvation? Are you convinced that your destiny is an eternity with Christ? Or have the trials, temptations, cares, and concerns of this world drawn your eyes away from your heavenly hope? In what ways can you adjust your daily schedule in order to spend time with the Saviour, embrace the promises of His Word, and work at growing in the salvation you have received?

The sword of the Spirit. How sharp and polished is your knowledge of Scripture? Of the vital, life-changing doctrines of the Christian faith? Are you able to wield God’s Word skilfully when Satan’s messengers attempt to confuse you or tempt you? How can you intentionally strengthen yourself in the area of biblical truth?

The power of prayer. Finally, how seriously do you take prayer? How often during the day do you commit to persistent, prevailing prayer? Is it something you squeeze into an already packed schedule or tack on at the end of your wearying worldly activities? Or do you focus time, attention, and energy on this singular means of engaging in spiritual warfare?

To close this time of personal reflection, spend some time in prayer right now asking God to help you put on the armour He has provided. Don’t rush through it. It may be one of the most pivotal decisions you make in your Christian life. It will certainly by your defence in the day of evil.”

Living Insights (pages 315 – 316)

Our song for today is The Battle by Phil Wickham

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