HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:15-20)
Selected by God to build the foundation of the church, the apostles did so by bearing witness to the resurrected Christ, by their teaching, and by prayer.
The apostles were noted for prayer. When there was a need to provide for the widows in the early church, the apostles couldn’t do it because they had to devote themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). When the leaders of the church at Antioch were fasting and praying, the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Paul and Barnabas for the ministry God had called them to (Acts 13:1-3). This was the beginning of Paul’s missionary journeys.
In addition, in the majority of the apostle Paul’s epistles to churches, he starts off sharing how he has been praying for them (Romans 1:9-10, Philippians 1:4, Colossians 1:9). Praying for God’s church was an important component of laying the foundation.
Although the foundation of the church has been laid and the original apostles have passed away, we can still have an apostolic ministry, specifically in the area of prayer. God wants to use us to build his church through prayer.
As we consider Ephesians 1:15-20, we learn principles of apostolic prayer—prayer that builds up God’s church.
Apostolic prayer is consistent.
Paul’s own prayers were consistent, and he commands all believers to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We see this consistency in his prayers for the Colossians and the Romans as well as the Ephesians.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)
God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. (Romans 1:9-10)
Paul was constantly praying for the church, and this should be true of us as well. But how can we practice constant prayer—prayer without ceasing? Does this mean that we never stop praying all day long?
Not necessarily. The Greek word translated as “without ceasing” in ancient literature was used as a “hacking cough.” When a person has a bad cough, it is not that he never stops coughing. It’s that he coughs all day—the cough keeps coming back. We must do the same with our prayers. Throughout the day, we must constantly remember the church, our neighbours, our co-workers, our leaders, and the lost in general before God. Prayer must be our constant endeavour and focus throughout the day.
Apostolic prayer is informed, caring, and consistent.