18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
I thought it was interesting that in my bible, this passage was included in the section for the Armor of God. My first thought was that someone “screwed up” and included it under the wrong subheading when they organized the chapters, but then I read it again. You see, we just got done reading about the different pieces of armor of God, but putting it on is only part of the story. In warfare today, our soldiers don’t just put on all their gear and then sit around and look at each other (sometimes it seems like we do, for all of you current and past military members, lol). Putting on the armor is just the beginning, once it’s on, we have to start using it! It is just preparation for battle, but not the battle itself. The battle is what Paul outlines here today.
I think the word “petition” is one of those words used in the bible that we tend to slide over, not really giving credence to what it actually means. The definition I found is “A solemn supplication or request to a superior authority.” In other words, it is asking a superior for something. In the biblical sense, it is asking God for something. Paul qualifies this though by saying in the Spirit. What exactly is that supposed to mean? It relates to the filter through which we pray. You see we tend to look at Matthew 7:7 7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you… and think that whatever we ask for will be given to us, but we fail to continue reading: how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! The phrase what is good we often interpret as “what is good to us´but don’t realize that God gives us what is best for us, since He is the author of good, wouldn’t He then know what is truly good? Sure He does, even moreso, He has told us what is good, in His Word. What does this all mean? Pray for the things He says is good, not us.
Not only are we to pray this way for ourselves, but more importantly with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. This means all other believers. This is more than just “well wishing”. This is more than the women left at home hanging a scarf out their window to signify their husband or son has gone out to war. That is just silent mourning and wishful thinking. We are all soldiers in this battle. We aren’t “left back home” we are “standing next to each other in Spirit.”
In this light, Paul expresses what he needs prayer for, that when he opens his mouth, he speaks boldly about the gospel, so that he can lead others to Christ. Shouldn’t this be the prayer for all of us? Afterall, we are ALL called to do this, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Are you fighting in the battle today or just sitting around waiting for your armor to rust?