*Prayer—The Crowning Weapon
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful…with all perseverance…for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18 NKJV
The description of the whole armor of God shows us how great a thing it is to be a Christian. The lack of any one thing makes us incomplete. Though one has his loins girded, has on the breastplate, his feet shod, the shield of faith, and sword of the Spirit, yet one more thing is needed: praying always. At all times and occasions, in the midst of all actions, inwardly “praying without ceasing.” “By the Spirit”—through the influence of the Holy Spirit. “With all prayer”—all sort of prayer: public, private, mental, vocal. Do not be diligent in one kind of prayer and negligent in others; if we desire our petitions answered, let us use all. Some use only mental prayer, thinking it is a way of worship superior to any other. But it requires far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer than to offer up mental aspirations.
“Supplication”—repeating and urging our prayer, as Christ did in the garden; “watching”—inwardly attending on God, to know His will, gain power to do it, and attain to the blessings we desire. “With all perseverance for all the saints”—continuing to the end in this holy exercise that others may do all the will of God and be steadfast. Perhaps we receive few answers to prayer because we do not intercede enough for others.
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
As Wesley encouraged us to use all means of grace in lesson thirteen, in this fourteenth lesson on prayer, he encourages us to use all the types of prayer available to us.
This call to prayer that Wesley unfolds ends a section in Ephesians 6:10-18 dealing with spiritual warfare. It reads, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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,…” (NASB)
Wesley aptly brings out the point that without prayer, our armor is incomplete. We put on the armor, we move in the armor, and fight with the armor through prayer. Prayer is a vital piece of our armor.
As Paul writes to the Ephesians, Wesley also points out the need for us to intercede for others. In fact, he wonders if the answer to our own prayers might be hindered because we do not pray enough for others.
Perhaps no other prayer catches this sense of service to others in prayer as does the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”