The second half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church begins with the exhortation to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1). Paul repeats this call to a faithful “walk” several times (4:17; 5:2, 8, 15). By the time we get to chapter six we learn that such a walk will not be easy. Obeying God and remaining committed to his priorities in a sinful world will be more difficult than we often realize.
The Apostle attributes much of the difficulty in walking faithfully with Christ to the spiritual powers of darkness which are alive in this world. Thus he exhorts believers to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (6:10-11). Accompanying this “armor,” is the call to continue “praying at all times” (vs. 18). Simply put, it is always time to pray. The urgency of the matter is made clear by Paul’s four-fold use of “all” in verse 18: “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.”
Paul presents prayer as the foundation of our strength in the fight against the evil one. Faithful praying is one of the most immediate ways we acknowledge our comprehensive need for God’s presence, guidance, sustenance, and strength. Prayer is also one of the chief activities by which we bind ourselves to our brothers and sisters in Christ as we make “supplication for all the saints.” There is much we can and should do in addition to prayer. But we cannot do anything apart from prayer.