To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Read: Ephesians 6:18-20
How often do you pray for the saints? At the end of his section on putting on the full armor of God, Paul reminds us that we’re to be reliant on God. How can we be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might (v. 10)? We must put on the armor of God. But in all of that we are to be praying at all times in the Spirit.
Yes, we must remember the gospel and the truth that Christ’s righteousness covers us. We need to be reading our Bibles and equipping ourselves with the sword of the Spirit. We must take up the shield of faith and shod our feet with the gospel. But undergirding all of our effort must be humble prayer through the Spirit to our Father in heaven. We don’t have the inherent ability to adequately arm ourselves to persevere through our own doubts and the attacks of the enemy. We need to remember that we are to be strong in Christ and the strength of his might, not our own.
But Paul doesn’t end there. Our prayers must not be solely self-serving. There is no sin in praying for your own perseverance through a trial or boldness to share the gospel or for other things within God’s revealed will. However, we shouldn’t just be praying for ourselves.
Immediately after exhorting us to be praying at all times in the Spirit, the apostle tells us that we are to keep alert with all perseverance. We’re to be vigilant in something. What is it? It’s prayer, but not for self. It’s prayer for all the saints. We’re to be in attentive, persistent prayer for all the saints around the world.
In the immediate context, Paul is instructing the Ephesians believers to be strong in the Lord and put on the armor of God. Our prayer, at least in part, should be for the saints around the world to be strong in the Lord by putting on the armor of God. We are to pray that our brothers and sisters around the globe would stand strong in their confession of faith and that they would persevere through the attacks of the evil forces in the world that would tempt them to turn away from Christ.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise or a shock to any Christian reading this devotional, but there is a lot of temptation in this world. There is also a lot of suffering in this world. This world is fall and under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19; see also 2 Cor 4:4; Rom 8:18-25). We are not the only ones with daily struggles against doubt, lust, pride, despair, and the various dangers that abound in this life. And Christians around the world face these trials in different ways than we might experience. Some Christians face physical persecution for their faith and thus be tempted to abandon Christ to save their own life. Others may never face physical persecution, by they may face social persecution at work or school, where they will be tempted to abandon Christ to save their reputation or their job.
American believers need the prayers of their Haitian brothers and sisters to persevere. Haitian believers need the prayers of their American brothers and sisters to persevere. Perseverance and strength to stand amidst difficulty, however, isn’t the only prayer we should have for our fellow saints.
Paul ends this command to persevere in praying for all the saints with a personal request that the Ephesians pray for him. He specifically requests that they pray for his boldness—that he would be able to continue to preach the gospel despite his current imprisonment.
Obviously, we cannot pray for Paul. But, if the apostle Paul—the one who suffered through countless abuses and trials in his pursuit of Christ and yet persevered through them all and continued to preach the gospel—needed prayer for boldness, don’t we all? We need to pray for all the saints, not only that they would be protected from the schemes of the evil one, but also that they would be given words to open their mouths and boldly proclaim the gospel. Make these requests a part of your regular prayers and persevere in this spiritual discipline.
Let us help our brothers and sisters around the globe by beseeching the Father on their behalf. We don’t know their names. We don’t know their specific situations. But we know that our Father in heaven does. You may never see the result of these prayers in your lifetime, but they will be effective if they are done in faith and hope in the power of God. Let us pray for all the saints.
Ponder and Pray: Consider why regularly praying for the saints is important. How can the prayers of a saint in one country be of help to a believer in another? Finish your time by praying for the saints throughout the world, that God would empower them through his Spirit to stand firm and to be bold.