Ephesians 6:18 (NIV 2011)
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 the Lord’s people. Do all of this in prayer asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.
I feel that it is always important to mention the role of prayer in our lives. I’m not sure, however, that we always know what is appropriate to pray for and what is on the edge of self-serving or improper in that there is no praise for God, at times, only requests for help or pleas for mercy. In my book, Dressed for Victory: Putting on the Full Armor of God, I explore the concept of prayer at length, and so, here, I’d like to zero in on our reasons for prayer—particularly at a time of year when we are headed back to school, ending summer vacations, and hunkering down for whatever the winter season has in store for us.
In times of introspection, we find our minds wandering to many things—what we want, what we need, what we SHOULD focus on, what scares us, and more. As we move into fall and the season of retrospect analysis and personal introspection—the season that makes us think of things coming to an end or changing—we may allow ourselves to explore prayer a little more too.
When we do ask for God’s help, either for ourselves or others, we are engaging in a relationship with Him that shows trust and a need for guidance. This is a healthy practice. Normally, we don’t just pray for ourselves, and most of us realize that it is not really praying or conversing with God when we ask to win the lottery or when we wish ill will on another out of frustration. While most of our praise conversations or prayers are sincere—even when we are momentarily thankful for getting us out of a sticky situation, for example—God knows that not all of our lapses in judgment are sincere. We are all allowed to get frustrated and retreat or lash out. He is forgiving.
Wearing the Armor of God, however, we can always remember to stay focused on a fulfilling prayer life with God, knowing that we are protected, in our armor, by salvation, truth, fortitude, and more. As I said earlier, most of us do not just pray for ourselves. Instead, when we have a need or something that concerns us, we focus on our responsibilities to others, asking to get that raise to provide for the family or hoping to win the bid on a house to shelter our loved ones. Many times we ask for more respect in life or people to surround us with love. These, too, are wholesome, well-directed, and good-intentioned requests. When we feel that we are asking for ourselves, many times we are truly thinking of others or allowing God to get to know us and offering our wants and needs to Him. When we work hard and, with His good grace, obtain what we need or want, as long as we remember to praise Him and tell Him, in our prayerful conversation or introspection, that we are grateful, we are treating prayer as the essential element to fulfilled life with Him.