They Devoted Themselves To The Word And Prayer - Ephesians 6:17-20
A little over a year ago Hunter Kopchinski passed away and went to be with the Lord. On that day, moments after his passing, a couple ministers from a local church came to pay their respects to the family. In that room were all sorts of people from many different backgrounds. Some were believers and many were not. All of them in that moment were grieving the loss of such a precious child.
It was in this moment that one of those two pastors began to read from the Gospel of John. He held the bible in one hand and he laid his other hand upon a grieving family member and said these words from John 6:44-51,
Jesus said, “’No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
As he read that text, I couldn’t help but feel as though that was the perfect text in that moment. Those words put Christ before us. Those words grounded our hearts in the hope and in the assurance that Hunter was now with the Lord.
Within moments of that text being read, the other minister who was with him began to pray. I will be honest with you that I have never heard a more beautiful prayer.
I spent weeks trying to discover what it was about that prayer that made it so beautiful. That young man mentioned all of the important things that should be said in a moment like that. He thanked the Lord for giving Hunter faith in Jesus Christ. He spoke of how Hunter was now standing in the presence of God and he prayed for all of the people who were left behind.
All of these words came from a heart that was humble, gentle, loving and caring. As I reflected upon that prayer I concluded that the young minister had a personal relationship with Christ and that his prayer was spoken by the Spirit of God for the benefit of all who were there. This is why it was such a beautiful prayer. That prayer, along with the scripture that had just been read, made for a powerful moment where God could comfort and grant great grace and hope to a grieving people.
Our text this morning is found in Ephesians 6:17-20.In this text, Paul encourages believers to take every opportunity to do exactly what I saw displayed by those two ministers who proclaimed the Word and prayed for the people who were grieving on that day. In this text, Paul encourages every believer to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and to pray at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication.
Perhaps it was easier to see the Spirit at work on that day because you could see the same Spirit functioning in the minister who read the Word and also in the young man who prayed by the Spirit. In our text today, Paul tells all of us that we are to be able to both wield the sword of the Spirit and to pray in the Spirit at all times. We are to do this in private and on every occasion. We read in Ephesians 6:17-20 these words,
..and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
I will never forget that moment at Adam’s house when those two men ministered to us all by the Spirit of God. In that moment it was evident that the LORD was present through the ministry of these two men. But sadly, we do not always see how the Spirit is working in believers as they speak the Word of God and when they pray.
Every single day Christians are to be speaking the Word of God and praying in every situation so that the Lord can bring His great grace into every situation that we encounter. We are to bring the Word to bear and pray in the Spirit as we live their lives at home, at church where we worship and in our communities where we work.
One reason that I know that we may not always see this grace operating among us is because the apostle Paul has spoken the Word and prayed throughout this letter and we may have failed to see and appreciate what was going on in those moments.
Did we come to understand the significance of the Spirit working through the apostle Paul as he preached the Word to us over the last year? Did we realize the significance of the Spirit inspired prayers that he has weaved throughout this book? Together, the Word preached and the prayers of Paul were intended to be a powerful expression through which God could give to each of us great grace.
Paul has taken specific moments in this letter to both wield the sword of the Spirit [the Word of God] and to pray for believers by the Spirit. Looking back upon those texts I see more clearly now the beauty of what Paul was doing when he did this.
For example, we saw this in Ephesians 1. Paul has been talking about how believers were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (1:4). Paul was teaching them that it was in love that God predestined us for adoption to Himself through Christ according to the purpose of His will (1:5). And Paul told us that all of this has been according to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has lavished on us in Christ with all wisdom and insight (1:8).
Then in Ephesians 1:11-14 Paul continued to speak of the inheritance that we have received, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. Paul reminded the Ephesians that when they heard the gospel and believed in Christ they were sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until they acquired possession of it.