Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 37 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by the Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to finish up our Armor of God series with the final piece of the armor. What is, in my opinion, the most important piece, and when talking about the Armor of God the piece that is left off of most lists; persistence of prayer. It’s Ephesians 6:18 “ Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
For me, prayer is a very private, intimate, expression of my faith and an act of worship. Though, I rarely pray outloud in public, prayer occupies my time more than anything else I do. I guess “occupies” isn’t really the appropriate term since prayer continues while I’m doing life. Washing the dishes while praying, driving down the road - praying, writing this podcast - praying, my deep is constantly reaching out to The Deep.
In his commentary on the armor of God, R.A. Finlayson emphasizes the importance of prayer to the armor saying, “We are (to think of prayer as) that which conditions the right use of the whole armor. Without prayer we cannot gird ourselves for the conflict, but are cumbered as with loose robes. Without prayer we cannot have that purification of motives, that rectification of life, which the conflict demands. Without prayer we cannot have swift-footedness in carrying the gospel. Without prayer we shall not have faith to ward off the enemy’s darts. Without prayer we shall not be able to lift our head in the assurance of our salvation. Without prayer we shall be unskillful in the use of the Word. Constant use and prayer, then—that will keep the helmet from being dulled, the sword from being rusty.” According to Finlayson, prayer is not only the most important piece of the armor of God but without it, the armor is made ineffectual.
When we talk about prayer there’s a certain level of unknown that most people struggle with. It’s understandable given how unnatural it feels at first to talk to someone you’ve never met, can’t see, and is so fundamentally different than us that His full nature is unfathomable for the human mind. However, we can’t allow the unease of the flesh to lead to doubt. James 1 tells us that when we ask God for something we should do so, “ ...in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord,  being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.” The upside there being if we find a way to overcome our doubt of God then we are no longer being double-minded and unstable in our prayers.
It’s also important, as Jesus illustrates in Luke 18, to make sure that our faith isn’t in our own righteousness with our prayers only emphasizing that point. In Luke 18:10-14 He says, “ "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other people-greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.'  "But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner!'  I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
In Matthew 6 Jesus advises “ But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  When you pray, don't babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they'll be heard for their many words.  Don't be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.”
Speaking to the persistence of prayer, in Luke 18, Jesus tells us another parable “ "There was a judge in a certain town who didn't fear God or respect people.  And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.'  "For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or respect people,  yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so that she doesn't wear me out by her persistent coming.'"  Then the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.  Will not God grant justice to his elect who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay helping them?  I tell you that he will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
It’s really not that complicated. It’s really this pretty simple thing.
Prayer should be private, humble, consistent, without doubt, and most of all persistent.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”