“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
When we stop to weigh the meaning of these words, the child of God is driven to say, “I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray.” Why is constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer so needful?
1. There is a devil. He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, and he is always plotting the downfall of the child of God. If the believer relaxes in prayer, the devil will succeed in ensnaring him. This is the thought in the context of Ephesians 6, which describes our spiritual battle and the need for the Christian to take up the armor of God. Paul tells us that to all else we must add prayer—constant, persistent, untiring, sleepless prayer in the Holy Spirit, or all else will go for nothing.
2. Prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things, and the great secret of all lack in our Christian experience is neglect of prayer. James brings this out very forcibly: “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Many Christians are asking, “Why is it I make so little progress in my Christian life?” Ministers and Sunday school teachers are asking, “Why is it I see so little fruit from my labors?” God answers us all: “Neglect of prayer. You have not because you ask not.”
3. The apostles regarded prayer as the most important business of their lives. When the multiplying responsibilities of the early church crowded in upon them, they recruited helpers so they could “give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Paul, in what he wrote to churches and individuals about praying for them, made it evident that much of his time and strength were given to prayer.
4. Prayer occupied a very prominent place in the earthly life of our Lord. He was not unfamiliar with “rising up a great while before day” (Mark 1:35), or spending “all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). The words pray and prayer are used at least twenty-five times in connection with our Lord in the brief record of His life in the four Gospels, and His praying is mentioned in other places where these words are not used. A man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ.
5. Praying is the most important part of the present ministry of our risen Lord. Christ’s ministry did not close with His death. After Christ accomplished His atoning work, He rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, where “He ever liveth to make intercession for [believers]” (Hebrews 7:25). “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). The ministry of intercession (praying for others) is a glorious and mighty ministry, and we can all have a part in it.
Nothing has so impressed me with a sense of the importance of prayer as the thought that it is the principal occupation of my risen Lord. I want to have fellowship with Him, and to that end I have asked the Father to make me an intercessor, to make me a man who knows how to pray, and who spends much time in prayer.
—Adapted from How to Pray by R. A. Torrey.