Bible Lesson on Prayer for Adults

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This teaching on prayer based on Ephesians 6:18-20 can be used for your Bible study group, an adult Sunday School lesson, a small group study, or as a personal devotional.

Can you relate to any or all of the following:

  • Do you ever feel as though your prayers go unanswered? You may think, God will do what He wants, anyway, so what’s the use of praying?
  • Would you describe your prayer life as stale or stagnant? Ever wonder if God really hears your prayer? Every one of them? Does He really care about my concerns in the grand scheme of all things?
  • Ever feel as though your prayers are one-sided?
  • Perhaps you struggle with feeling insignificant at the thought of coming before the Creator of the universe about the details of your life. Perhaps you even perceive Him as being far away – not concerned about the details of your life.
  • Do you ever feel insecure about the way you pray, or compare your prayer life to the descriptions other people offer regarding their own?

If you can relate to any of the above, this post is for you.

You are not alone if any (or all) of the above statements resonate with you. I’d venture to guess everyone has struggled with each of those struggles at some time in his or her life. If not now, maybe during another season of life.

We also need to be willing to admit if we’re feeling disappointed or are struggling with unmet expectations regarding our prayer life. 

In our raw honesty, we come before the Lord. 

I’m asking the Holy Spirit to reveal Truth to you and me in personal and powerful ways as we walk through Ephesians 6:18-20 together.

The Importance of Prayer

God is our Source. He is the Vine, we are the branches.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). Just as our daily bread provides our physical needs to sustain us, God’s Word provides nourishment for our souls and it sustains us spiritually. His Word is life

We must stay connected to Him, Our Source, and we accomplish this in His Word and in prayer.

Prayer is as necessary as the air we breathe. Essential. Constant. Life-sustaining.

The Power of Prayer

I think it’s impossible for us to fully understand the tremendous power of prayer. And that’s ok – our finite minds aren’t equipped to understand everything about our Heavenly Father and His ways. That’s where faith enters our perspective. 

Allow me to provide a little context before we dive into our focal text. Paul is speaking as we open the letter he wrote to the Church in Ephesus. His audience in this book is other believers in the Lord Jesus.

We’re jumping in towards the end of the book of Ephesians to chapter 6, and our focal text for today comes on the heels of a full description of the armor of God that equips every believer of Jesus Christ for spiritual battle. Whether we want to be engaged in spiritual warfare is irrelevant – like it or not, we are! 

Make no mistake, the placement of these words regarding prayer immediately following His words on spiritual warfare is very intentional. 

Satan knows the immense power of prayer, and that’s why he does all he can to get us NOT to pray. One effective tactic during war is to get your enemy away from their power source in order to place them in a position of weakness and vulnerability. 

That’s exactly what Satan does to you and me. See if you recognize any of these tactics he uses to get you NOT to pray:

  • He distracts you from praying by keeping you busy with other activities and tasks.
  • He tempts you to believe power is useless and ineffective.
  • He sows seeds of doubt, confusion, anxiety, and fear.
  • He tempts us to believe there are other more effective, attractive alternatives to prayer that offer quicker results. (This one is a biggie… we do, after all, like things to be done quickly, don’t we?!)
  • Sometimes he tempts us to think we don’t really need to pray about certain things because we’re quite capable to take care of the issues at hand on our own. In other words, pride.
picture of a clock tower - we need to pray at all times

When and How Should We Pray

Now let’s dissect Ephesians 6:18 to understand what it’s saying.

“And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Pray in the Spirit.

It would be impossible to grasp an understanding of prayer by the mere acquisition of factual information. The power and impact of prayer is profound and transcends human intellect.

Prayer engages the Holy Spirit, and our prayers are to be led, guided, and moved by him as we cry out to God, in Jesus’ name.

On all Occasions.

An occasion can be defined as, “a particular time, especially as marked by certain circumstances or occurrences”

Circumstances and occurrences comprise every moment of every day. Our lives are composed of occasions, so we should pray in the midst of them all! 

Let the implication of all occasions sink in for a moment. 

  • The mundane as well as the memorable. 
  • In the midst of routines as well as detours. 
  • Pleasant surprises and unwelcomed trials and hard times.
  • During a season of change. 
  • In the midst of mourning. 
  • When we first wake up, when we lay down at night, and every moment in between.

When I think about praying on “all occasions”, I can’t help but think about the reality that we experience “all types of emotions” in the midst of them. 

  • Loneliness
  • Despair
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • In times of crisis, we are shell-shocked…
  • Confusion
  • Boredom
  • Discontentment
  • Weakness in the face of temptation
  • Anger

On the opposite end of the emotion spectrum, there is: 

Sometimes our steps feel steady, and other times the ground under our feet seems to crumble more with every step we take. 

In all occurrences, and all the emotions in them, Paul tells us to place our focus on Jesus and cry out to him. We press on, mindful that we’re engaged in a spiritual battle as we walk through “all occasions”.

All Kinds of Prayers and Requests

  • Short prayers and long prayers. 
  • Eloquent prayers and others ugly in their honesty. You know the kind… when you’re sobbing so hard you can scarcely string together a coherent sentence and your emotions are raw and you just let it all flow out of your heart as you desperately cry out for God’s help and intervention. There is great power and healing that occurs in those unguarded, vulnerable, intimate moments when you pour out your heart knowing there is not one thing you can accomplish in your own strength and merit, and you lift your eyes and bow your heart to where your help comes from, The Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
  • Desires of our hearts, and prayer requests we offer on behalf of our loved ones and family.
  • Requests for help
  • Thanksgiving prayers, expressions of gratitude

Scripture supports the concept of assuming a posture of prayer throughout the day.

This doesn’t mean we should walk around with a notebook constantly excusing ourselves to catalog every prayer we utter. Nor does this imply a constant, vain repetition of words throughout the day. And it certainly doesn’t require us to close ourselves in a room and put a “closed for business” sign on the door of life!

Be careful you don’t assert specific prerequisites in order to pray.

Some people think they can’t pray unless their eyes are closed. Others feel they can’t pray effectively unless their hands are folded as if that serves as their antenna! Still, others may associate a specific quiet place or a specific posture as the only one to enable them to pray! None of these are biblical requirements! 

God desires that we pour out our hearts to Him in all circumstances, on all occasions, and all throughout our day. Here’s a YouTube video that addresses this subject:

Be Alert

Assuming a posture of prayer is not something we accomplish by mindlessly walking through the motions of our day – attention is required!

Prayer is an investment of time and energy, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

When we’re alert and intentional to shift our gaze from the temporal to the eternal we intentionally focus on what scene to what’s unseen – where the battle occurs.

Throughout the fabric of the Old and New Testaments are examples of people who called on God’s name. Consider the following examples of people who prayed in “all circumstances” in a time of need – even in precarious, difficult situations.

  • Jonah prayed from inside the belly of a great fish. (Jonah 2)
  • Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his betrayal. (Mt. 26: 36-56)
  • Daniel regarded prayer sacred and prayed in the face of a death threat. (Daniel 6)
  • In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept and prayed to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:10)
  • The book of Psalms records prayers flowing from all manner of emotions from worry to worship.

These are all beautiful examples of a heartfelt, fervent, powerful prayer offered while pouring out his or her heart to God – in the midst of great needs.

We need to understand the primary purpose of prayer is not for God to please us. To cater to our every desire, and deliver our answers to what we want, how we want them, and when we want them!

My friend, we need to realize it’s not about us.

It’s not about God doing what we think is best – we need to surrender to what He knows is best. 

We need to change our perspective from the temporal (here and now) and place it on the eternal and trust everything that happens is under God’s sovereign rule for the glory of God.

Even when we don’t understand, as a follower of Jesus, our desires must surrender to the will of God. 

That is not easy or possible on our own. We need God’s grace and mercy to empower us as we surrender to Him in faith and trust.

Trusting God in difficult times can be downright hard… but not impossible. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Sometimes we look around at the circumstances of our life and all we see are a bunch of puzzle pieces that look a mess and we can’t figure out how on Earth they could possibly fit together. (Not to mention we don’t even like some of the pieces we see and would rather just throw them away!) 

But they do fit, by God’s grace, and according to His purpose and plan.

God has the full picture of the puzzle, and unlike us, he knows how and when every single piece fits to make a beautiful masterpiece when it’s complete.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16 written in front of flowers

Paul concludes with a request for himself.

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador and chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Eph. 6:19-20)

While under house arrest, Paul didn’t ask for prayer for his physical chains to be removed for his freedom; he asked for prayer regarding the words he speaks pertaining to the gospel message and his delivery of it. 

Paul’s perspective was eternal and so was his request.

Paul’s example challenges me to think about how I pray. How often are my prayers focused on me being able to effectively serve others and proclaim the gospel message? How often do I ask others to pray for specific spiritual battles I face, or that I would be victorious in a specific area of temptation?

What about the prayers I offer on behalf of others? How often do I pray for their influence for Christ Jesus? How often do I pray for victory over their spiritual battles? Areas of temptation?

So often our perspective remains with pressing needs and desires regarding our bonds and desires. We pray for our health, finances, and emotional well-being. Relationships with our family and friends, physical safety as we travel, and our job situations. Those are all important and we should pray about all of those things, but Paul reminds us not to neglect our spiritual needs and the spiritual needs of others as we pray!

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pin what does the Bible say about prayer

Other Bible Verses About Prayer

“Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

“Evening morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your request to God” (Philippians 4:6).

“Pray Continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5: 16)

I hope you enjoyed the powerful truths about prayer in this relatable Bible lesson that is applicable to our daily life.

For further reading:

Heartfelt Prayer to God

Trusting God in Difficult Times

Bible Verses Proving God is in Control

Prayers to Get Closer to God

FREE Prayer Journal Template Download

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