‘Be filled with the the spirit speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:19)
We can see from this verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that singing and music was a central part of Christian worship for the early church 2000 years ago, and has been central ever since. For a large part of the last 2000 years, most people couldn’t read, with only the rich getting a formal education. Hymns and songs with their catchy melodies would be one of the main ways that people would learn about God and Jesus. It is much easier to remember a song than to memorise a piece of scripture. Hymns and songs were and are vital because they build up the church and they instruct us. They speak to the heart and to the mind.
Songs are incredibly powerful more so than laws! They mold us from the inside, Paul recognises this and so sees how important it is to make sure that we prioritise sung Christian worship as a central part of living out our faith. If you want to know about the ethics of the Old Testament read the Psalms, not the laws!
‘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 Lord’s people.’ (Ephesians 6:18)
Pray is a powerful weapon. Paul tells us two things about pray in this passage, it must be constant, pray in all situations. It must be unselfish, pray for others, pray for our Church.
Paul is in under arrest, chained to a Roman soldier day and night, no longer spreading the Gospel message from city to city across the known world. Paul was under spiritual attack, doubt would have filled his mind and so he asks that they pray also for him: ‘Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.’ (Ephesians 6:19-20)
Paul’s request for prayer is not that he will be released from the chains, but that he will share the Gospel fearlessly in his chains, to the Roman soldiers and to those in power. Paul doesn’t want the chains he is in to stop him from sharing the good news about Jesus.
What do we pray for? Release from the chains that hold us? Or that we might fearlessly make know the mystery of the gospel in whatever circumstances we might find ourselves.
‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ (Ephesians 3:16-19)
I really like Paul’s prayer in chapter 3 of Ephesians, in it you see Paul’s desire for the church to be filled with the same power that his ministry has been full of. Paul’s ministry was so powerful because through prayer he experiences the deep love of Christ.
Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God too and especially through that person. (Wright)
Through prayer, we too can experience the deep deep love of God and have the power, that is the Holy Spirit, flow through our ministry as we build the kingdom of God in our communities.
‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us’, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.(Ephesians 3:20-21)