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Praying Like Paul

Ephesians 6:18-20 (NIV)

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

As context is always so important when we look at a passage, here we read from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus that he wrote from prison in Rome. In this beautiful epistle, Paul covers several topics including the church’s unity in Christ. He prays for the reader’s spiritual strength and oneness in Christ. He explains what it means to walk in love, gives instructions for how to treat one another, and then he famously teaches about the whole armor of God and what that means. The whole armor of God is our defense against the schemes of the devil.

Once he finishes explaining the armor, he tells us to pray. Not just to pray, but to pray in the Spirit. This may seem daunting at first, even impossible. How am I supposed to pray in the Spirit? This is simpler than you might think. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit. Following Jesus means that you have been given the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. Don’t disregard his presence in your life. He is powerful and living inside you. When you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayer. Ask for him to help you with what to pray.

Romans 8:26 says,

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (ESV)

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with what to pray, and he will. And as you make this a regular practice, you’ll find that yielding to the Holy Spirit in your prayer life gets easier. What you should pray will stop coming from your brain, and it will begin to come from a place that you don’t even fully understand. That’s what it means to pray in the Spirit. Trust the process. It works!

Next Paul tells us to do it “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Applying this just means to be in constant prayer. The best example of this is 1 Thessalonians 5:17 where Paul writes, “17 pray without ceasing” (ESV) What a joyous thought that is to pray without ceasing! All kinds of prayers and requests mean that you need to mix it up. Don’t stick to some predetermined routine in your prayer. Do you think God wants to hear you recite the same words over and over, day after day? Would you like to hear that? More than anything, God wants your heart. And if you are in constant prayer and you are bringing him all kinds of prayers and requests, he’s interested in what you’ve got to say.

Paul tells us to pray for others and he says to pray for him. What a great lesson here! Don’t just ask God for things you want, like he’s a genie in a bottle here to grant you wishes. But make your requests known, and pray for others, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking other brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for you! Look at why Paul is asking for this. It’s not for his benefit or glory, but it’s for God’s glory. Follow Paul’s example and be humble enough to ask for prayers to help you bring glory to God. You’ll be amazed at the impact these lessons will have in your life.



Foster, Richard (1998). The Spiritual Disciplines (3rd Ed.). New York, NY. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011. Ephesians 6:18-20,   by Biblica, Inc.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV Text Edition: (2016). Romans 8:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.