When I first read this verse, I was trying to see what each little part of it really meant and what stood out to me. And, for whatever reason, it brought back a few memories of when I was a Mormon missionary.
There were times when I was a missionary that I would use one single verse to prove a point to people. A lot of times, these were mainstream Christians I was "Bible bashing." When I was quoting out of the Bible, they didn’t always know how to react or respond back. Since then, using Greek and Hebrew lexicons, as well as concordances, I have studied many of the verses that I shared and realized that I missed much of the context of the verses myself. I had manipulated doctrines with a very limited view of the Bible.
When I was reading Ephesians 6:18, I had to ask myself, “Am I taking this out of context?” I think it’s important to look at the previous eight verses in Ephesians 6, wherein Paul is referring to the armor of God.
Almost all of these pieces of armor are used in defense of the enemy or Satan. Only the sword of the Spirit is the weapon of attack. He prefaces verse 18 about prayer with several verses about getting ready for a fight. If the previous eight verses are about preparation for the fight, I believe that verse 18 is talking about the actual fight, or at least a way that we can fight. Prayer is also a way that fastens all of the pieces of the armor of God together and is a way for successful warfare. In the next three verses, Paul asks that the believers pray for him, that he can fight through his words and proclaim the gospel fearlessly. Prayer was a way for the believers to fight alongside Paul.
Reading these familiar verses also brought back the memory of eating Cream of Wheat almost every morning on my mission because it was very inexpensive. To this day, I rarely eat Cream of Wheat because I ate it so much, and sometimes without milk or sugar. It was just plain water and Cream of Wheat for breakfast. And then I thought to myself, “Are my prayers just plain Cream of Wheat? If they are, what does a plain Cream of Wheat prayer look like?” I believe it would look like a prayer that was mechanical, routine, very bland, and without any taste or flavor--a prayer that would just meet the bare necessities of life or survival.
To me, verse 18 is saying that we should spice our prayers up a little, making sure that we’re praying any and all kinds of prayers in the Spirit: prayer for spiritual breakthroughs, prayer for someone’s salvation, prayer for our own salvation, prayer for the kingdom of God, prayer for the people of God, prayer that has no limitations placed on God or His people.
In these 21 days of fasting and prayer, many of us are going without sugar and/or without any type of food that has spice or taste. I say let’s spice up our prayers; let’s pour on the flavor and pour on the sugar for God. He is worthy of it.