on Ephesians 6 :18
Praying always - The apostle does not put praying among the armor; had he done so he would have referred it, as he has done all the rest, to some of the Grecian armor; but as he does not do this, therefore we conclude that his account of the armor is ended, and that now, having equipped his spiritual soldier, he shows him the necessity of praying, that he may successfully resist those principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places, with whom he has to contend. The panoply, or whole armor of God, consists in,
1. the girdle;
2. the breast-plate;
3. the greaves;
4. the shield;
5. the helmet; and
6. the sword. He who had these was completely armed.
And as it was the custom of the Grecian armies, before they engaged, to offer prayers to the gods for their success, the apostle shows that these spiritual warriors must depend on the Captain of their salvation, and pray with all prayer, i.e. incessantly, being always in the spirit of prayer, so that they should be ever ready for public, private, mental, or ejaculatory prayer, always depending on Him who can alone save, and who alone can destroy.
When the apostle exhorts Christians to pray with all prayer, we may at once see that he neither means spiritual nor formal prayer, in exclusion of the other. Praying, προσευχομενοι, refers to the state of the spirit as well as to the act.
With all prayer - Refers to the different kinds of prayer that is performed in public, in the family, in the closet, in business, on the way, in the heart without a voice, and with the voice from the heart. All those are necessary to the genuine Christian; and he whose heart is right with God will be frequent in the whole. "Some there are," says a very pious and learned writer, who use only mental prayer or ejaculations, and think they are in a state of grace, and use a way of worship far superior to any other; but such only fancy themselves to be above what is really above them; it requiring far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer, than to offer up mental aspirations." Rev. J. Wesley.
And supplication - There is a difference between προσευχη, prayer, and δεησις, supplication. Some think the former means prayer for the attainment of good; the latter, prayer for averting evil. Supplication however seems to mean prayer continued in, strong and incessant pleadings, till the evil is averted, or the good communicated. There are two things that must be attended to in prayer.
1. That it be εν παντι καιρῳ, in every time, season, or opportunity;
2. That it should be εν Πνευματι, in or through the Spirit - that the heart should be engaged in it, and that its infirmities should be helped by the Holy Ghost,
Watching thereunto - Being always on your guard lest your enemies should surprise you. Watch, not only against evil, but also for opportunities to do good, and for opportunities to receive good. Without watchfulness, prayer and all the spiritual armor will be ineffectual.
on Ephesians 6 :18
Praying always - It would be well for the soldier who goes forth to battle to pray - to pray for victory; or to pray that he may be prepared for death, should he fall. But soldiers do not often feel the necessity of this. To the Christian soldier, however, it is indispensable. Prayer crowns all lawful efforts with success and gives a victory when nothing else would. No matter how complete the armor; no matter how skilled we may be in the science of war; no matter how courageous we may be, we may be certain that without prayer we shall be defeated. God alone can give the victory; and when the Christian soldier goes forth armed completely for the spiritual conflict, if he looks to God by prayer, he may be sure of a triumph. This prayer is not to be intermitted. It is to be always. In every temptation and spiritual conflict we are to pray; see notes on Luke 18:1.
With all prayer and supplication - With all kinds of prayer; prayer in the closet, the family, the social meeting, the great assembly; prayer at the usual hours, prayer when we are specially tempted, and when we feel just like praying (see the notes, Matthew 6:6) prayer in the form of supplication for ourselves, and in the form of intercession for others. This is, after all, the great weapon of our spiritual armor, and by this we may hope to prevail.
"Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian armor bright,
And Satan trembles when he sees.
The meanest saint upon his knees."
In the Spirit - By the aid of the Holy Spirit; or perhaps it may mean that it is not to be prayer of form merely, but when the spirit and the heart accompany it. The former idea seems, however, to be the correct one.
And watching thereunto - Watching for opportunities to pray; watching for the spirit of prayer; watching against all those things which would hinder prayer; see the Matthew 26:38, note, 41, note; compare 1 Peter 4:7.
With all perseverance - Never becoming discouraged and disheartened; compare notes, Luke 18:1.
And supplication for all saints - For all Christians. We should do this:
(1) because they are our brethren - though they may have a different skin, language, or name.
(2) because, like us, they have hearts prone to evil, and need, with us, the grace of God.
(3) because nothing tends so much to make us love others and to forget their faults, as to pray for them.
(4) because the condition of the church is always such that it greatly needs the grace of God. Many Christians have backslidden; many are cold or lukewarm; many are in error; many are conformed to the world; and we should pray that they may become more holy and may devote themselves more to God.
on Ephesians 6 :18
6:18 Praying always - At all times, and on every occasion, in midst of all employments, inwardly praying without ceasing. By the Spirit - Through the influence of the Holy Spirit. With all prayer - With all sort of prayer, public, private, mental, vocal. Some are careful in respect of one kind of prayer, and negligent in others. If we would have the petitions we ask, let us use all. Some there are who use only mental prayer or ejaculations, and think they are in a state of grace, and use a way of worship, far superior to any other: but such only fancy themselves to be above what is really above them; it requiring far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer, than to offer up mental aspirations. And supplication - Repeating and urging our prayer, as Christ did in the garden. And watching - Inwardly attending on God, to know his will, to gain power to do it, and to attain to the blessings we desire. With all perseverance - Continuing to the end in this holy exercise. And supplication for all the saints - Wrestling in fervent, continued intercession for others, especially for the faithful, that they may do all the will of God, and be steadfast to the end. Perhaps we receive few answers to prayer, because we do not intercede enough for others.