Last week I shared my concern that I was missing something in my preaching. In my mini-series on spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10-20, I felt that I was being too "safe" and that I needed to inject a more topical message before I wrapped things up.
Well, as I prepared a message on prayer last week, I was blown away but what the Apostle Paul really says about prayer in three short verses (just note the cross-references at the Bible Gateway link). From these verses, I found seven points:
1. Pray in the Spirit
2. Pray at All Times
3. Pray About Everything
4. Pray With Your Eyes Open
5. Pray for All the Saints
6. Pray for Gospel Preachers
7. Pray for Gospel Opportunities
The message is up on box.net (just click the link at the top right corner of this blog), but if you don't want to listen, let me explain a couple of the more obscure points above (my obscurity, not the text's).
4. Pray With Your Eyes Open might seem odd, but what I'm getting at here is spiritual alertness and perseverence in the face of temptation and opposition to prayer that will come. I was picking up on Paul's "eyes of the heart" allusion from Ephesians 1.
7. Pray for Gospel Opportunities is an admittedly loose interpretation of Paul's description of himself as an "ambassador in chains." Paul's confidence in God's sovereign providence made him conscious of the fact that the Gospel was not hindered by his chains. See Philippians 1:12-14 for more proof of this assertion. The application of this is that we can't blame God for our lack of Gospel witness. None of our "chains" can keep God from working in us.
I was really convicted by this message. When you carefully consider what Paul says in context, serious prayer is an urgent component of spiritual warfare. It expresses our dependence upon God. That is a very practical application of the metaphor of the full armour of God in the previous verses.
So, all this to say that I was particularly schooled by the text last week.
Preacher, when you think something's missing, just keep reading.