“. . . there is no favoritism with Him.”


We all have favorites: favorite flavor of ice cream, favorite food, favorite restaurant, favorite article of clothing, and yes, your favorite place to sit in church!  Having “favorite things” is a normal part of life.  However, when favoritism moves from food, clothing, places and such, to people, everything changes. Truth be told we have all benefited from favoritism or felt the negative effects of it.   

Favoritism, or partiality, is preferring one person or a group of people over another.  Much of this happens without us being aware of it as we naturally gravitate to certain people over others.  However, the “ugly” side of favoritism is when it is done on purpose and at the expense of others.  This often causes pride in the one favored and shame in the one who is not.  For example, favored students get more attention and leniency in the grading process, while neglected students suffer with poor self-esteem and poor grades.  The examples go far beyond childhood as we see those who are considered beautiful, handsome, thin, smart, successful and yes, white, experience benefits of being favored. While those who are not find themselves marginalized. 

Yet the Gospel screams the radicle and comforting message that “there is no favoritism with God” (Eph. 6:9b).  That’s good news! In writing these words Paul is telling “masters” that they should not threaten their bondservants.  There was a deep social chasm between these two groups of people.  The master was powerful and affluent, while the bondservant had few rights and had gotten into that position because they were in debt.  Yet Paul tells them that the Gospel turns the normal status quo on end by reminding the master that he is indebted to the Master who is heaven: The same Master as the bondservant! Therefore, do not show favoritism.

The Greek word Paul uses in this verse literally means “to make unjust distinctions between people by treating one person better than another.” [1] Peter uses the same word after seeing God bring the Gentile Cornelius to his door (Acts 10:34).  James warns against it in the church (2:1,9), and Jude uses it negatively to call out false teachers (v.9). 

As Believer’s we have been adopted by a God who is not partial (Dt. 10:17) to His children.  He does not show favoritism!  We all started out dead in our sin and trespasses, “but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:1,4,5).  We all receive the same favor and as His children “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

I find these words very encouraging!  God doesn’t have a favorite preacher! God does not play favorites despite of how it may feel.  It’s a fact, the Bible says it clearly, God delights equally in all His children!  That’s good news! 




[1] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). 

Priceless

Several years ago, I was given a Mont Blanc pen from a friend which at that time was valued at several hundred dollars.   As you may have guessed, it is not a pen that I carry around in my pocket, and unfortunately, because of its value I never use it.  It seems absurd that I wouldn’t use the pen for the very purpose it was designed for.  What good is it sitting in a drawer?
We also have a couple of containers in our house stuffed with cheap pens of an assorted variety.  Most were purchased in bulk for just a few cents apiece.  Some work and some don’t, but most write poorly and pale in comparison to my Mont Blanc.  But they are easily accessible, so I end up using them despite their poor quality.
Believers have been given an extremely valuable gift that is often relegated to a coffee or bedside table.  That gift is the Word of God found in our Bible. Like a Mont Blanc pen, it comes in different translations and assortment of formats, but its value is too high to place any dollar amount.   Though we may be fortunate enough to have several Bibles around our house its value remains.  In fact, there are many in the world who would give everything they own to be able to have just one! 
Unfortunately, we do not read the Bible as we should and resort to booklets, articles, devotionals, blogs, podcasts, and radio programs where we get bits and pieces of the Bible.  Like my cheap pen collection, they work sometimes, and can be helpful, but never comes close to the real thing!  In the end, we fall into the habit of substituting what is expedient for what is truly beneficial and life changing.   
The Bible is priceless because it is the Word of God.  It is how the God of creation speaks to us.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit it is a living document that actively works God’s grace into us: It changes us!  Like a surgeon’s scalpel, it cuts deep and exposes our thoughts, intentions, doubts and fears.  That means spending time in God’s Word helps us sort out our own feelings and struggles.  It does not leave us exposed, or in shame, but points us back to Jesus “the author and finisher of our faith” where we always find mercy, forgiveness, and strength for whatever trial we may be facing.


For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

“No One, None, Nothing.”


My wife and I enjoy our walks.  It is good exercise for my worn-out knees, a chance to enjoy the changing seasons, see the deer and turkey, get caught up on the day’s happenings, and to pray.   Always along on our walks is our dog Simba who probably enjoys the walk more than we do.  On most days, he strides between us as we make our circuit.  Aggressive dogs, garbage trucks, speeding cars, and other potentially intimidating things don’t seem to bother him.  If you were to join us on one of these walks you would notice that he regularly looks up at me and “checks in” by touching his nose to my hand or leg.  As long as I am there and not concerned, neither is he.
            
Jesus was very specific when He said “Do not be anxious.”  In fact, He said it 3 times in Matthew 6!  The apostle Paul picks up the same theme in Philippians 4 where he writes “do not be anxious about anything.”  Literally, that means the Believer should not “have an anxious concern” about “no one, none, nothing.”
            
Unfortunately, a command like this can cause our anxiety to spiral out of control as our inability to stop worrying or being anxious fuels a new anxiety that God will be mad at us if we cannot stop worrying!  Please understand that this is a command, but it is one that is given by the One who said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11;29-30).   You see it is not a command to try harder, but a command to worship!

God’s people were designed and created for worship, but the sin the still surges in us causes us to make secondary things in our lives primary.  When we do that, we stop worshiping God, and in essence start worshiping whatever we are worried about.  Jesus is not calling us to a lackadaisical lifestyle as there are legitimate concerns in life, but a call to loosen our grip on what we worry about and spend time with the Savior who is only fully in control – there is “no one, none, nothing” that He does not have His hand on.  And He loves and cares for you!

Worship is a gift that we take for granted.  It is not simply another ritual “good” Christians do, but a time when we seek the LORD and find deliverance from all our fears, anxieties and worries.  David understood this truth and wrote this Psalm,
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:4-8).

Make it your ambition to spend time in daily in personal worship, and weekly as God’s people worship together.  It is a precious gift, that time in our walk with the Savior when we “check in” with Him, taste His grace, and are reminded that He is still walking with you in this journey of life, still carries His “rod and staff,” and you are safe!  “Be anxious for nothing” and enjoy the walk!   

Thoughts on Worship

One of my earliest recollections of a worship service was one held under an enormous Mango tree behind our house in Bwiru, Tanzania.   Yes, you read that correctly, worship under a Mango tree.  The large tree with its wide spread branches provided shelter from the late morning African sun.  Several rows of wooden benches lined neatly in rows faced a primitive pulpit.  Looking back, I am surprised that my parents allowed it, but on one occasion I had a seat in the balcony. . . one of low laying branches.  Another unique aspect of worship under a Mango tree was that my golden Rhodesian Ridgeback dog was also able to attend.  No, this is not an argument for covenant animals in worship, but an example of worship conducted before the eyes of the unbelieving world.  As we sang, prayed and heard the Word preached, young heard boys paused their herding, and passersby stopped and observed.   

Obviously, there is a lot I liked about worshiping under the Mango. What child wouldn’t enjoy sitting on a branch with his loyal dog lying below!  Nevertheless, looking back after serving as a pastor for over 30 years, what I now appreciate was the opportunity for God’s people to do transcendent worship before watching eyes, and seeing them drawn in to what was going on.  It was a not revival under the Mango tree, it was God’s people gathering for worship.

Because worship is God’s people gathering to celebrate Him, it makes sense that we do it following what is given to us in Scripture.  Or put another way, God is the one who gets to make the decision on how He is worshipped.  If you are tempted to think that regulating worship, is narrow, outdated, or foolish, please know that buried beneath these simple requirements there awaits a precious gem of grace: a means of grace.  The Reformers described it as “ordinary” realizing it is not the only way God works, but it is the normal way that He provides spiritual nourishment.   

Far too often we look for God in the extraordinary, thinking that the transforming power of God is only found in the unusual, spectacular, or what stirs emotionally.  On the contrary God’s normal or “outward and ordinary” way of working is “the Word, sacraments (the Lord’s supper and baptism), and prayer.” (WSC 88)[1].  This has its foundations early in the life of the New Testament church where Believers “devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42). Word, sacraments, fellowship, and prayer where the focus of worship and vital to God’s blessing. 

The grace of saving faith that enables us to believe is the work of the Holy Spirit and ordinarily comes through the ministry of the Word.

Our faith then is strengthened by the same grace that comes only by His “Word and Spirit” as we are “enabled more and more to die unto sin and live and live unto righteousness” (WCF 10:1; 14:1; WSC 35). Sadly, the very thing needed for spiritual vitality has become so “ordinary” that it is considered boring or irrelevant! I am however absolutely convinced a worship service formed around what Scripture teaches, screams the gospel and is powerfully transformative to the believer and unbeliever alike.  


In addition to Word, prayer, and sacrament, is the singing God’s people which ministers grace as we praise the Lord, call on his saving power, and encourage one another.  As Jesus sings with us, (Heb. 2:12) we are drawn to him as well as one another.  Here at Covenant singing is very important to us.  We also believe that God centered (means of grace) worship transcends style and trends and uses the best music and a variety of instruments. We also believe what we sing should be both formative (teach) and expressive (meaningful and emotional).  Therefore, our worship is neither contemporary nor traditional, but one that firmly grounds us in our Biblical Reformed heritage, yet invites and draws a diversity of cultures as well as the unchurched.



[1] WCF – Westminster Confession of Faith, WSC – Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Elisha

It took us longer than we wanted to collect our last two bags and get through customs and immigration at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya,  With the two hour delay we finally stepped outside the door and met up with my brother and his wife who had arrived shortly before us on another airline. Together we headed to a waiting van driven by a Kenyan named Elisha.  After squeezing all our bags in the vehicle it took us almost another hour just to negotiate the traffic fighting to get out of the parking lot!

On the one and half hour drive to Kijabe, Elisha negotiated stalled trucks on the road and a police stop where the officers where looking for a late night tip - "lunch money."  They didn't get anything from Elisha and we arrived safely at
about 1:30am.  We used Elisha's services three more times in the coming weeks and on each occasion he took great care to get us to our destination safely and graciously.  On the morning we left to return home, he picked us up at 3:45am, and as he delivered us back to Jomo Kenyatta Airport he told us his story.

Elisha who is now in his 60’s was the youngest of 14 children and grew up in an impoverished family.  By the age 2 his father contracted a disease that left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to care for the needs of his family.  In an agrarian society this meant immediate poverty leaving his mother in a desperate struggle for survival.  Over the coming years she lost 7 of her children to malnutrition and illness. Elisha often went without food.

When he was eighteen he had a dream where he was told that he should go to Kijabe, because the missionaries there were kind and would provide him with food, education and a job.  Though he lived a considerable distance away, he obeyed what he was told in the dream and started walking.  The journey through perilous territory took him three months relying on the kindness of strangers for food and lodging.

Due to security concerns a gate was in place at the entrance of the mission station and no one could enter who had not been invited by someone living or working there. Elisha knew no one!  He was obviously very disappointed.  Nevertheless, something inside him prompted him to ask if he could see the list of those who lived there.  As he read through the list a name jumped out!  It was his oldest brother whom he had lost track of and was now student a Moffat Bible School.  Elisha not was only permitted on to the station, but he had a place to stay!  

Several days later his brother took him to meet a missionary by name of Herb Cook – a close friend of my father – who had been praying for a young man to help at the Kijabe printing press.  Elisha was given the job and thrived!  Over the coming years he moved on to work in the operating room of the Kijabe Hospital where he sterilized surgical instruments for my childhood doctor, Doctor Bill Barnett.  Dr. Bill taught him to drive, and he eventually became the driver for the hospital.  In time he started his own business van service, transporting scores of people who come to work and volunteer at Kijabe.


Elisha prayed for a Godly wife and later married Esther, a jovial middle school teacher who radiates a love for people and the Lord.  He also prayed “Lord, I want my children to have a good education and not just any degree, but advanced degrees." He and Esther were blessed with four children: Three sons who are respectively, a lawyer, a research scientist, and in upper management with an MBA.  And a daughter who is a dentist and married to a pastor.  Most important is that his children all love Jesus. Elisha concluded his story by saying something like this, “All my life I say, ‘God this is job, this business, this money, is Yours and I am trusting You to bring business to me'.  This is His business.” An amazing story of God’s grace, by a man who genuinely gives God all the glory!

Pray Up a Child in The Way He Should Go. Part 2


In just a couple of weeks our son will be graduating from Vanderbilt University.  It is hard to believe that it was less than 4 years ago that his college adventure began.  It was exciting for him, but terrifying and lonely for his parents! We were in desperate need of God’s grace!  At that time, I posted the following blog on what we experienced that day and how we found comfort and hope in covering our son in prayer. 

It would not be appropriate for me to list all of the prayers that we have seen answered, but God has heard our prayers and been amazingly gracious!  In fact, on move in day, God answered our first prayer by bringing along Ted an upper classman who was strong Believer. He welcomed our son into the Christian fraternity BYX, where he found accountability and group of guys committed to living out their faith on campus.  Later Brooks, a young Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) intern became a friend and a confidant, as that campus ministry became central to his routine.  I am also grateful for fellow pastors, who have shepherded him, and ministered to him through the Word and Sacrament.  God provided financially and gave protection as he drove our little Honda CRV with well over 200,000 miles all over the South Eastern United States.  Not even a flat tire!   

So as our son graduates, and moves on to his new career, his mom and I will be rejoicing with tears of gratitude for the faithfulness of God.   We are well aware of the fact that we have no secret parenting method, and are not even close to parenting experts! However, we do know that God hears and answers our prayers.  We strongly encourage you to never stop praying for your children!  If you are just beginning the parenting journey go ahead and read some books, but don’t take them too seriously!  Enjoy your children and pray up your child in the way he or she should go!

Here is what I wrote in the Fall of 2012. . .

My wife and I have entered a new phase of our lives, one that many of you have already experienced.  This phase inaugurated with a family pilgrimage from Orlando, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee.  No, this was not a vacation, nor a time to indulge in the music life of Music City, but the mixed emotion endeavor that parents have when they take their first child to college.  Vanderbilt University welcomed us warmly, with a handshake and a greeting from faculty resident and head of house Dr. Roger Cone and a throng of students who carried all of my son’s belongings to his room.  After settling our son in his room, and meeting his roommate and his family, we enjoyed a day of festivities that allowed us to experience the campus and spend more time with our son.  

On the day we were to “abandon” our son, the school hosted a breakfast, which was designed a “last meal” of sorts before we were instructed to leave our students behind and go home.  I woke that morning with a heavy heart and soon had tears in my eyes as it already felt different as there were only two of us in the hotel room.  In anticipation of the dreaded goodbye my wife and arrived early to the campus to do a prayer walk.  As we made our way around the campus we prayed at each building asking God for His blessing and protection for our son.  We were keenly aware of our total helplessness, and through tears, we asked God to do what we could not.   

Words cannot describe how hard it was for us to drive away that day.  We were not only experiencing sending our first child to college, but empty nest.  We left our only child in world where he will face temptations and challenges like neither his mother nor I ever did.  I am sure I don’t need to remind you that Vanderbilt hasn't exactly presented a pro Christian stance.  The last time I felt that helpless as a parent was when we brought him home from the hospital almost eighteen years earlier.  At that point I had been a youth pastor for nine years and fully understood how messy the world is. In fact, in 1994 every four minutes a young child was sexually abused an experience that could blight them for life.  The violence and brokenness of our world overwhelmed me, how would he face the temptations of drugs and alcohol abuse, pornography secularism etc.?  I was also soberly aware of my inability as a parent and was overwhelmed by the reality that his mom and I were could do little for him without God.  Our little family was in desperate need of God’s grace.

As is now, there was plethora of resources on parenting that gave helpful suggestions and much needed guidance to parents as they journey down the confusing path of parenthood.  Sadly, the process of simply finding the right resource was overwhelming as the opinions of the authors often contradicted each other or made brash claims that their method was God’s way.  Though helpful, these resources could not guarantee anything, and in fact some could be dangerous!  Sadly, few if any spoke of the need for God's providential hand in the life of our children.  How did parents survive before the books, CD’s and seminars? 
 

Those of you who have spent any time with me know that my father is my hero.  I love that man more than words can express.  He and my mom raised four of us in the heart of Africa where dangers of different sort where rampant.  Each of us has come to faith in Christ and experienced the grace of God in our lives.  When I asked him about his parenting methodology, his humble reply was powerful.  Rather than give me the ten essential steps to parenting, he implied that he wasn't as good as a parent as I made him out to be, and had made more mistakes then I recalled.  His advice was simple, pray with, for and over your children. 

My parents had prayed for their children from the moment they knew they were conceived.  My life was covered in prayer through all the hours I spent climbing snake-infested rocks, to all the years in boarding school separated from my parents, and as I rode my Yamaha RD 350 much faster then I should have down the streets of Nairobi, Kenya.  They not only prayed for my welfare but for the woman I would one day marry.  In fact, if you were given the opportunity to sit at their breakfast table with them today, both in their eighties, you have the honor of hearing them still praying for each of their children and their wives, grandchildren and now great grandchildren.  I am convinced that it was not because of my parent’s excellent parenting skills that all four of us are walking with God, but the mighty hand of God working in us through the consistent prayers of faithful parents.

The story is told of a man who had just bought his first model T Ford car.  As he was driving it one day the motor sputtered and it came to a chugging halt.  Knowing nothing about these new horseless carriages he opened the hood and just stood by his vehicle.  Before long a gentlemen came by and stopped.  After looking over the engine for a moment, he quickly fixed the problem.  The owner was amazed!  "How did you know how to fix it so fast?" he asked.  The tall gentlemen replied, "I am Henry Ford; I designed the car."

God has wonderfully and beautifully designed each of our children.  He has created them as complex individuals, no two are alike.  Yet as complex as they are God knows them individually, he knows their name!  Matter of fact, He knows them far better than we do!  Though we live in a "quick fix" society and would like God to fix every concern and hurt when we want it done, we must learn to rely on Him and trust His timing.  It appears much easier to go to a book or a counselor for a "quick fix" rather than go to the Father in prayer.  Please don’t make the mistake of regarding prayer as a useless ritual, but understand it as a powerful and intimate way to ask the Father for His direct assistance. Don’t make it a last resort, but a first priority!

My wife and I made that commitment to pray for our son.  In fact, I made it a ritual to put my hand on his head and pray for him and bless him every night.  When I traveled, if it got late and he had not heard from me, he would call or text me and say he was ready to go to bed and wanted me to pray for him.  And more than once, I stepped out of a meeting to do just that.  It was that important to me!  My primary time to pray for him was at night, while my wife on the other hand is the early riser, and poured out her heart to the Father, before he woke up each day.  I cannot list the number of ways that we have seen God answer our prayers and work in our son’s life.  God has done exceedingly more than we could ever have asked or imagined! (Ephesians 3:2).

If any of us are honest with ourselves, we will admit that prayer is often extremely hard.  When we sit down we are bombarded with everything from items we need to do, to projects we forgot to do.  Often when we slow down we get sleepy or distracted with thoughts that creep into our minds.  Thus we have a tendency to give up on prayer.  In giving up on prayer we are indirectly admitting its lack of importance to us.

With our western "can do" mindset we have become very self-reliant and extremely impatient!  We often do not honestly feel like prayer will do any good, and we more often are far too impatient to wait for its answer.  As we look at scripture we find it full of commands for the Believer to pray.  We even see the example of Jesus Christ as He took time to talk to the Father (Matthew 14:23).

Ephesians 6:18 exhorts the believer to "pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for - your little - (the) saints."  Prayer is direct communication to the Father, through Jesus Christ, and as long as that communication is open we are safe from the schemes of evil one.

James 4:2 reminds the believer that "we have not because we ask not."  Thus, James goes on to write in verse 7 of the same chapter, "submit yourselves to God."  Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us that we are to “pray continually."  In this brief article there is no room to expound on the command to pray, but it is clear that God has commanded us to pray, thus it is obvious that He uses prayer to work out His sovereign will.

As I write this article, I am sitting in our quiet and clean living room.  Honestly, it is too quiet and clean.  I miss the tennis bag, shoes, books and other paraphernalia that so often cluttered the room.  The TV is off and there is no music playing.  No interruptions… But I miss the boy that interrupted my concentration, blared music and left his junk lying around the house!  And once again, I find myself at another helpless stage.  It would be easy for me to write that there is nothing I can do but pray, however as I look back I find great comfort and hope in the fact that I still have the best tool of parenting at my disposal, and it is both an honor and a comfort that God has given me the precious gift of prayer!  I can no longer put my hand on his head to pray, but I still pray for him like his in the room and then send him a text reminding him that I prayed for him and love him more then he will ever know. In my heart, my hands are still on his head when I pray!   

Regardless of where you are in your parenting journey, I hope that you will receive the gift of prayer, use it, and find peace in it.  Below are some suggestions on how to pray up your child in the way they should go. Remember that as God’s children He loves your children more than you do! Read a book or two, but don’t take any of them too seriously.  Trust me your child does not have an owner’s manual!  They are all uniquely mysterious.  God designed each one that way so we would rest in Him and enjoy every minute you have with them.  Please make time to pray daily for your children in at least these 12 basic areas.  Then if you and I meet one another in the golden years of our lives, when all our nests are empty, we will not spend the time boasting of our parenting skills, but rather will rejoice together in the grace of God and sing from the depths of our souls the beloved hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  Amen?

1.  Pray that your children will come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior early in Life.  (Psalm 63:1; 2 Timothy 3:15)
2.  Pray that your children will learn to hate sin.  (Psalm 97:10)
3.  Pray that your children will be caught when guilty.  (Psalm 119:71)
4.  Pray that your children will be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives:  Spiritual, Emotional, Physical.  (John 17:15)
5.  Pray that your children will have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships.  (Daniel 6:3)
6.  Pray that your children desire the right kind of friends and be protected from the wrong friends.  (Proverbs 1:10-11)
7.  Pray that your children will respect those in authority over them.  (Romans 13:1)
8.  Pray that your children will be kept from the wrong mate, and saved for the right one.  (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
9.  Pray that your children, as well as the one they marry, will be kept pure until marriage.  (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
10.  Pray that your children will learn to totally submit to God and actively resist Satan in all areas of their lives.  (James 4:7)
11.  Pray that your children will be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ.  (Romans 12:1, 2)
12.  Pray that your children will be hedged in so they cannot find their way to the wrong people or places and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them.  (Hosea 2:6) 

The Four “All’s” of Prayer

"Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 - ESV)

This verse immediately follows the apostle Paul's powerful reminder that the Believer's real struggle is not a physical one, or "against flesh and blood", but a cosmic battle with the powers darkness and spiritual forces of evil.  It is a spiritual battle that cannot be won on our own.  In fact, it would be a hopeless battle if we did not know the “rest of the story” that Christ Jesus has insured a victory,  and the conquest of all His and our enemies! In the meantime every believer has been given the “full armor of God” to not only just defend ourselves, but to win the battle.

Paul concludes his teaching on the armor of God with a call to prayer.  In fact, he seems to imply that it is through prayer that the armor is effective.  Paul clearly sees the need for prayer and asks for it personally in verse 19.  When commenting on this verse, John Calvin writes, “There is no man so richly endowed with gifts as not to need assistance from his brethren, so long as he remains in this world.  Who will ever be better entitled to plead exemption from this necessity than Paul! Yet he entreats the prayers of his brethren, and not hypocritically, but from an earnest desire for their aid” (Calvin’s Commentaries, p. 241).  In other words, if Paul sees a vital need for prayer, we should too!

Please note the four “all’s” in this verse.  First Paul reminds us that prayer should permeate all that we do when he writes “praying at all times”.  Along the same line, in I Thessalonians 5:17 challenges us “pray without ceasing.”  This obviously, does not mean that we need to spend every moment of our day muttering prayers, but rather is a way of thinking that automatically takes us to the throne of grace where we bring our thoughts back to our heavenly Father.  I think Proverbs 3: 6 sums this up well when it states, “In all your ways acknowledge Him”.  Note well the “all”.

The next “all” comes as Paul reminds us that there is more than one method of prayer when he writes “all prayer and supplication”.  Scripture gives us many examples of prayer that include praise, profession of our faith, confession, adoration, thanksgiving, lament, petition, intercession and more.  We must not limit our conversation with God to one style or formula.  He is our heavenly Father, just talk to Him!

The third “all” reminds us not to give up if it seems our prayers are not being answered or seem ineffective.  “All perseverance and petition” is a persistence that refuses to back away or give up.  The NIV puts it this way, “always keep on praying”.  

The fourth and final “all” is “for all the saints”.  I believe many of us become discouraged in our prayer lives because the majority of our prayers are not for “all the saints”, but “one of the saints” – often ourselves. As Believers we are called to intercede for one another.  If we do that we are all covered in prayer! 


Let’s together ask the God of all grace to help us become a people of prayer who are “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” and see what God does!