A Simple Way to Pray
Ephesians 6:18-20

We usually focus on the armour of God when we meet this reading in the lectionary, but today I wanted to focus on the last three verses, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for the Lord’s people.  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words will be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

Prayer is something that we learn how to do throughout our lives.  There are two common places where we learn how to pray, in church and in the home.  Our liturgy contains several prayers, each with a particular function in the cycle of the liturgy.  We begin the service in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we sing and then use a prayer of confession as we corporately confess our sins before God and each other.  The lord have mercy is also a form of penitential prayer.  The great Gloria is a prayer of praise, which is followed by the prayer of the day or ‘collect’ which is a prayer that focusses our thoughts on the theme for the day as we prepare to hear God’s word.  Then following the collection of freewill offerings we sing or say the offering prayer followed by the General Prayer which is also known as the Prayer of the Church.  The General Prayer is our opportunity to pray for the church, the world and all people.

Our communion liturgy then begins with a prayer of thanks, the Lord’s Prayer, the song of Simeon and this is all followed by another prayer of thanks.  Our worship informs our prayer life at home, we learn when to pray, what to pray for and even how to pray from what happens in our worship services.
We also learn how to pray in the home.  My first memories of praying at home are perhaps grounded in a little red prayer book that was given to me as a baptism gift forty five years ago.  This book has prayers for all kinds of occasions.  When I first started using it my Mum used to read the prayers for me, and I would just look at the pictures, then as I learned to read I could use it myself.  Each picture has a short verse or prayer to help the reader to pray, this has been a touch-point for me throughout my life and the book has taught me the various times in life where prayer is important. 

Not only are there different times to pray, there are also all kinds of different ways of praying, I’ve been talking to people about prayer a fair bit this week and the different ways we do it.  Some people fold their hands and bow their heads and close their eyes, some people lift up their hands and others kneel down.  These postures that we take help us to pray, and remember that we are praying.  But you don’t always have to do that, you can also pray as you are walking along a street or sitting in a classroom.  There are things called arrow prayers, where you see someone and ‘shoot off’ a quick prayer for them, silently in your head. 

Sometimes we send prayers to each other on email or text message, even on facebook sometimes.  Children at the primary school can send prayer requests to the Thursday morning prayer group for them to pray for their needs.  There are people in the OELC congregation who pray for others and then send them cards to tell them they have been prayed for. 

Our head to the heart kids seem to really enjoy the prayer journey that we do as part of our teaching events.  They usually find a comfortable place on a couch or the floor and sit or lie down and relax, this prayer is led by one person as they pray on behalf of the group.  We then end our sessions with PTA prayers,that is Praise, Thanks and Ask.  This is an opportunity for them to offer petitions for whatever is weighing on their hearts and to give thanks and praise to God in all circumstances too.

Paul wants us to pray all kinds of prayers and be alert to the needs of other people, and that they would pray for him and his needs too.  I think we often wind up praying just for the things we need, but this clearly says we should pray for others.  It is a real blessing to know that others are praying for you!

Jesus taught his disciples how to pray too, when they asked him to teach them, he taught them the Lord’s Prayer and we continue to use that same prayer today, it was taught to us and we now teach it to our children.

Here is a simple anonymous poem that describes the sentiment of Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:
Pray in the Spirit,
Be led by God’s Word,
Because he has promised,
Your prayers will be heard.

Be alert and keep praying,
Hear what others are saying,
Bear them in mind,
Pray and be kind.

The style doesn’t matter,
The time nor the place,
Sitting or kneeling,
Still brings all God’s grace.

Pray for each other,
Your loved ones and friends,
Give thanks to the Lord,
From now til the end.
Be encouraged to pray in all circumstances, pray without ceasing.  Pray for others, pray for your friends and family and all people in the world.  Be alert to the needs of others, keep your eyes and ears open and offer prayers to suit.  Your prayers will be heard.

Amen.