Ephesians 6:18-20: The Nature of Prayer


  • What is prayer?
  • Must we pray?
  • How is prayer possible?
  • The mysteries of prayer


What is prayer? 17th century Anglican minister George Herbert has written a famous poem that multiplies the images of of the nature of prayer:

‘Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.’

To explain what prayer is is a lot harder than knowing what it is. Prayer is as natural as breathing for the born again believer. But as with all things, we get confused, we pick up bad habits, we forget, and we need to be reminded of first things. Prayer can sometimes be like our ability to walk. When someone has had a terrible accident and sustains severe brain injury, many have also had to relearn how to walk. It is often this way for the Christian and prayer. Our early Christian lives are full of the natural ability to pray, but then we hit a wall, we backslide, we have our faith challenged, we get caught up in false teaching and bad forms of prayer, and all of a sudden we need to relearn the basics. So as we continue thinking about the part of prayer in spiritual warfare we want to revisit the nature of prayer. What is prayer? Must we pray? How is it possible? and some of the confusing mysteries of prayer are our reintroduction to prayer in this message.