Consistent, Persevering Prayer

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.”

- Ephesians 6:18

Having covered each component of the armor of God, we understand that we cannot succeed against the Devil if we rely on ourselves. We need the belt of truth to keep the daggers of false doctrine from cutting our legs out from under us. Christ’s imputed righteousness gives us ultimate protection from condemnation and accusation, and the breastplate of a Spirit-developed righteous character guards against the powerful blows of sin that try to destroy our hearts. The shoes of the gospel of peace give us solid footing and ready us to fight. Faith acts as a shield that drives us to seek shelter in God against the flaming arrows of enticing temptations. Salvation, our helmet, protects our minds, enabling us to remain focused on the kingdom. God’s Word is our mighty sword, the weapon that brings the Lord’s enemies to submissive repentance and keeps us on the narrow way by forcing us to our knees in gratitude for salvation and sorrow for sin (Eph. 6:10–17).

Our ultimate reliance on Christ for success in spiritual warfare is underscored in today’s passage. The participial phrase used in Ephesians 6:18 (“praying at all times in the Spirit”) covers everything that comes before it. In so doing, it indicates that we don the armor of God — we clothe ourselves in Christ Himself — by consistent, persistent prayer. Praying at all times is nothing less than taking every opportunity to acknowledge our weakness and our need for the Lord’s mighty help against Satan. Prayerful dependence must be the consistent attitude of our hearts, both in difficult times that make us quick to run to God and when prosperous seasons tempt us to forget our need for Him. John Calvin writes, “Paul therefore desires us to allow no opportunity to pass — on no occasion to neglect prayer; so that praying always is the same thing as praying both in prosperity and in adversity.”

Prayer is to be made in the Spirit (v. 18), which is not a reference to speaking in tongues. Instead, it refers to petitioning God for specific things (“all prayer and supplication”) through the Spirit, who is the One who prompts us to pray and then takes what we offer and makes it acceptable to the Father (Rom. 8:26). The Lord wants us to make specific requests, understanding that they will be granted in accordance with His perfect will (James 4:2; 1 John 5:14).

Coram Deo

In addition to being specific in prayer, God also wants us to be persistent in intercession (Eph. 6:18). This is a good reminder for us today, as we are likely to give up praying when we feel as if we have not received an answer in a timely manner. But we must persevere in asking for God’s help, even if it seems He is delaying His response, for the Lord may just be waiting to see persistent prayer before He acts.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 17:8–13
Nehemiah 1:1–2:8
Hebrews 5:7
James 5:13–18

We Recommend

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343