Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience, because we always want to do the right thing. ~ Hebrews 13:18
Today, we come back to our study of Hebrews 13 where the writer of Hebrews closes out the book with a list of basic truths that are meant to define our lives in such a way that we will know the abundant life the Lord Jesus died to give us.
In today's verse we read, "Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience, because we always want to do the right thing."
In this verse the Lord grabs our attention with the most important product of our faith in the God of the Bible: prayer. We tend to think prayer is a duty rather than a privilege. We think prayer is something we have to do rather than something we want to do. But, prayer is the privilege of talking to God.
Max Lucado once said, "Prayer is the window that God has placed in the walls of our world. Leave it shut and the world is a cold, dark house. But throw back the curtains and see His light. Open the window and hear His voice. Open the window of prayer and invoke the presence of God in your world."
Prayers that are fashioned by a biblical theology are as honest as the day is long. As is proven throughout the Scriptures, prayer makes intimacy with God a greater possibility, as long as we are honest with Him. Our problem is we struggle believing God hears us. But, as is illustrated throughout the Bible, our prayers move the heart of God. Prayer enables us to be involved in that which God is doing in this world.
The writer of Hebrews begged, "Pray for us." The most practical expression and the greatest evidence of our faith in the God of the Bible is our prayers.
In Ephesians 6:18-19 we read, "18 Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people. 19 Also pray for me that when I speak, God will give me words so that I can tell the secret of the Good News without fear."
The protocol for the reality that we all desire is prayer. Spiritual battle is to put on the armor of God first, and, then we are commanded pray. In context here in Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul urges us to make it our habit to put on the armor that God has given us through the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that our thought life must be framed up by the Word of God, and therefore made strong and ready to engage in the battle through prayer. Putting on this God-provided armor is the adjustment of our attitude of heart to reality, to life as God defines it. Putting on the various pieces of weaponry enables us to think through the implications of God's definitions of all things.
Prayer should he an outgrowth of the thoughtfulness that comes out of working through the implications of the belt of truth being tied around our waist, of putting on the shoes of the Good News of peace to help us stand strong. And, also, using the shield of faith and the helmet of our salvation, and taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
After we have put on the armor of God, after we have thought through the implications of the faith, then we are to talk to God about it. In developing these conversations with God, we address the many different aspects of our lives and others with Him.
Although prayer is for us and others, it must not start with us, it must always start with God. God has given promises and they form the only proper basis for our prayer life. This is what Paul means by his reminder that we are to pray at all times in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit always works in tandem with the Word of God.
The phrase, "in the Spirit," means to pray according to the character of God whom the Spirit has made known to us. God has never promised to answer just any prayer, but He does promise to answer the prayer that is in alignment to His Word. When we learn to pray like this, we will be made aware of the exciting and unexpected things that God is doing all around us. We learn of a quiet power at work upon whom we can rely. And as we learn to pray in this way we find there is put at our disposal a tremendous weapon, a mighty power to influence our own lives and the lives of others.
In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote that this world is enemy-occupied territory and that Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, and is calling us, His followers, to take part in a campaign of sabotage. And it is primarily through prayer that this sabotage takes place. "Prayer is fundamentally a warfare activity." We factor in on that which will last for eternity through our prayers. When we pray, we partner with God, we enter in on what He is doing in the lives of everyone around us.
Most often we are prompted to pray because of our needs, our difficulties, and, our pain. And, when these "unwanteds" come into our lives, we are motivated to do the most important thing we can ever do. In this case, our pains have become our blessings. And, when this happens, we will not be defined by our needs but by the One to whom we take these needs.
All of the weapons of our warfare which God has supplied to us through His Son provide for us the internal substance that we need to live this life. Prayer aligns our will to God's will, rendering for us a settledness, a sense of His presence that serves us in our service to Him. So, in the end, prayer changes us, it provides focus to our hearts by God. And, it is this focus that brings His kingdom to rest in our souls.
In Hebrews 13:18, we are commanded to pray in such a way that we have a clear conscience that renders the right choices. God uses the conscience that is being framed up by His Word to enable us to perceive what is right and wrong. It’s a built-in system just waiting to be bolstered and used. We can tell what’s right and wrong by the response of our God-influenced conscience. And, once it is influenced by the culture of God found in His Word, the sky is the limit to how we factor in on what God is doing in this world.