Isaiah 56:5-8 1NIV New International Version Translations
5to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. 6And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant-these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” 8The Sovereign LORD declares—he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”
The Lord tells us his expectations of duty from us. Be honest and just in all dealings. Also strictly observe the Sabbath day. To have the blessing of God upon employments all the week, make conscience of keeping the Sabbath holy. Have nothing to do with sin. Blessed is the man that keeps his hand from all things displeasing to God and hurtful to his own soul. Those who, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, will be found walking in ways of holy obedience.
Unbelief often suggests things to discourage believers, against which God has expressly guarded. Spiritual blessings are unspeakably better than having sons and daughters; for children are a care, and may prove a grief and shame, but the blessings we partake of in God’s house, are comforts which cannot be made bitter. Those who love the Lord truly, will serve him faithfully, and then his commandments are not grievous. Three things are promised. Assistance: I will not only bid them welcome, but incline them to come. Acceptance and comfort: though they came mourning to the house of prayer, they shall go away rejoicing. They shall find ease by casting their cares and burdens upon God. Many a sorrowful spirit has been made joyful in the house of prayer. The Gentiles shall be one body with the Jews, that, as Christ says, John 10:16, there may be one fold and one Shepherd. Thanks be to God that none are separated from him except by willful sin and unbelief; and if we come to him, we shall be accepted through the sacrifice of our great High Priest.
Items for Discussion
- What are the elements of worship that bring you joy?
- Have you ever left a worship service feeling defeated – if so, what was it about the service that left you feeling that way?
- How would you describe a perfect worship service?
- Isaiah’s words clearly state that we are to be one body under one Shepherd. Why do you think that there is so much disagreement among the churches?
- How is it that people of widely differing tastes and even opinions can come together in one common worship experience?
- How has worship changed over the generations of Christians?
- Where do you see the changes coming for the next generations?
18 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. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Chapter 6 of Ephesians is comprised of the following subjects:
- An exhortation to children to obey their parents, with a promise of the blessing that would follow from obedience, Ephesians 6:1-3.
- An exhortation to fathers to manifest such a character that children could properly obey them, and to train them up in a proper manner, Ephesians 6:4.
- The duty of servants, Ephesians 6:6-8.
- (The duty of masters towards their servants, Ephesians 6:9.
- An exhortation to put on the whole armor of God, with a description of the Christian soldier, and of the Christian panoply, Ephesians 6:10-17.
- The duty of prayer, and especially of prayer for the apostle himself, that he might be enabled to speak with boldness in the cause of his Master, Ephesians 6:18-20.
- In the conclusion, Ephesians 6:21-24, he informs them that if they wished to make any inquiries about his condition, Tychicus, who conveyed this letter, could acquaint them with his circumstances; and then closes the epistle with the usual benedictions.
Verse 18. Pray on all occasions. It would be well for the soldier who goes forth to battle to pray–to pray for victory; or to pray that he may be prepared for death, should he fall. But soldiers do not often feel the necessity of this. To the Christian soldier, however, it is indispensable. Prayer crowns all lawful efforts with success, and gives a victory when nothing else would. No matter how complete the armor; no matter how skilled we maybe in the science of war; no matter how courageous we may be, we may be certain that without prayer we shall be defeated. God alone can give the victory; and when the Christian soldier goes forth armed completely for the spiritual conflict, if he looks to God by prayer, he may be sure of a triumph. This prayer is not to be intermitted. It is to be always. In every temptation and spiritual conflict we are to pray.
With all kinds of prayers and requests. With all kinds of prayer; prayer in the closet, the family, the social meeting, the great assembly; prayer at the usual hours, prayer when we are specially tempted, and when we feel just like praying, prayer in the form of supplication for ourselves, and in the form of intercession for others. This is, after all, the great weapon of our spiritual armor, and by this we may hope to prevail.
“Restraining prayer, we cease to fight; Prayer makes the Christian armor bright; And Satan trembles when he sees the meanest saint upon his knees.”
In the Spirit. By the aid of the Holy Spirit; or perhaps it may mean that it is not to be prayer of form merely, but when the spirit and the heart accompany it. The former idea seems, however, to be the correct one.
Be alert. Watching for opportunities to pray; watching for the spirit of prayer; watching against all those things which would hinder prayer.
- With this in mind. Never becoming discouraged and disheartened.
- And Pray for All the Saints, for all Christians. We should do this because
- they are our brethren–though they may have a different skin, language, or name.
- like us, they have hearts prone to evil, and need, with us, the grace of God.
- nothing tends so much to make us love others, and to forget their faults, as to pray for them.
- the condition of the church is always such that it greatly needs the grace of God. Many Christians have backslidden; many are cold or lukewarm; many are in error; many are conformed to the world; and we should pray that they may become more holy, and may devote themselves more to God.
- each day many a Christian is subjected to some peculiar temptation or trial, and though he may be unknown to us, yet our prayers may benefit him.
- each day and each night many Christians die. We may reflect each night as we lie down to rest, that while we sleep some Christians are kept awake by the prospect of death, and are now passing through the dark valley; and each morning we may reflect that today some Christian will die, and we should remember them before God.
- we shall soon die, and it will be a comfort to us if we can remember then that we have often prayed for dying saints, and if we may feel that they are praying for us.
Verse 19. And for me. Paul was then a prisoner at Rome. He specially needed the prayers of Christians,
- that he might be sustained in his afflictions; and
- that he might be able to manifest the spirit which he ought, and to do good as he had opportunity. Learn hence that we should pray for the prisoner, the captive, the man in chains, the slave. There are in this land constantly not far from ten thousand prisoners–husbands, fathers, sons, brothers; or wives, mothers, daughters. True, they are the children of crime, but they are also the children of sorrow; and in either case, or both, they need our prayers. There are in this land not far from three millions of slaves–and they need our prayers. They are the children of misfortune and of many wrongs; they are sunk in ignorance and want and woe; they are subjected to trials, and exposed to temptations to the lowest vices. But many of them, we trust, love the Redeemer; and whether they do or do not, they need an interest in the prayers of Christians.
That words may be given to me. Paul, though a prisoner, was permitted to preach the gospel.
I will fearlessly make known. He was in Rome. He was almost alone, he was surrounded by multitudes of the wicked. He was exposed to death. Yet he desired to speak boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and to invite sinners to repentance. A Christian in chains, and surrounded by the wicked, may speak boldly, and may have hope of success–for Paul was not an unsuccessful preacher ever when a captive at Rome.
The mystery of the Gospel.
Verse 20. For which I am an ambassador in chains. In confinement. There is something peculiarly touching in this. He was an ambassador sent to proclaim peace to a lost world. But he was now in chains. An ambassador is a sacred character. No greater affront can be given to a nation than to put its ambassadors to death, or even to throw them into prison. But Paul says here that the unusual spectacle was witnessed of an ambassador seized, bound, confined, imprisoned; an ambassador who ought to have the privileges conceded to all such men, and to be permitted to go everywhere publishing the terms of mercy and salvation.
I declare it fearlessly. Openly, plainly, without fear.
As I should. Whether in bonds or at large. Paul felt that the gospel ought always to be spoken with plainness, and without the fear of man. It is remarkable that he did not ask them to pray that he might be released. Why he did not we do not know; but perhaps the desire of release did not He so near his heart as the duty of speaking the gospel with boldness. It may be of much more importance that we perform our duty aright when we axe afflicted, or are in trouble, than that we should be released.
Items for Discussion
- How many attributes of prayer can you find in these verses?
- What about the Apostle Paul’s character can you discern from these verses?
- If we are to be witnesses, why is prayer such an important component in the sharing of one’s faith?
- What would life, your life or the world at large be like without prayer?
- What would life, your life or the world at large be like with more prayer?
- How do we help those around us to pray as the Apostle Paul is asking us to pray?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations