The Praying Church: What If...
- Sunday, January 08, 2012
We mess around in prayer because we think it doesn’t matter, when in reality we are sentries standing guard on the front lines of spiritual combat.
V. The Wider Our Circle of Concern, the Wider the Results.
Paul instructs us to pray “for all the saints.” This means we need to pull ourselves out of the rut of praying only for ourselves and our family. It’s perfectly legitimate to pray for those closest to you. But you have not exhausted the power of prayer if you stop there.
If you pray for your friends, that’s good.
If you pray for your church, that’s also good.
If you pray for missionaries you know and love, that’s even better.
If you pray for other churches in your area, that’s wonderful.
If you pray for God’s work in other countries, your heart is stretched to new horizons.
Think of your prayers in terms of concentric circles. Naturally you start with those closest to your heart and then move out from there. With every outward circle, you move away from yourself and closer to the heart of God. “For God so loved the world . . .”
How wide are your prayers?
How broad is your concern?
When you pray, pray for the people of God around the world. And pray for those yet to be reached with the gospel.
Dr. Lee Roberson called prayer “the Christian’s secret weapon, forged in the realms of glory.” It is no accident that prayer comes immediately after the listing of the “armor of God” in verses 14-17. As someone has said,
Prayer is the Christian’s secret weapon,
Forged in the realms of glory.
Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
Some of us who know a little theology would do well to get an advanced degree in “kneeology.”
With that we can quickly sum up Paul’s personal prayer request in verses 19-20.
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, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
He asks for two things: clarity and courage:
- Clarity - that he might have the right words to say.
- Courage - that he might say the right words at the right time.
Have you ever considered that the ability to communicate truth clearly is a gift from God? It comes in answer to prayer. If a pastor is not preaching well, it may be because his people are not praying well.
Paul wrote from a Roman prison where he was chained to a guard 24 hours a day. He was literally an “ambassador in chains.” Here’s what blows me away. Though he was innocent of any crime, he doesn’t say, “Pray that I can get out of here” or “Ask God to reverse my sentence” or “Pray that they will cut me loose from these chains.” In short, he doesn’t ask that his circumstances might be changed because he understood that behind the mighty Roman Empire stood the Lord God himself.
God had called him to that prison. He had work to do there.
So he asked for prayer that he might be clear and courageous to do God’s work while he was in prison. Did he want to be set free? I’m sure he did, but that wasn’t uppermost in his mind. Whether in prison or out, he wanted only to proclaim Christ to those who did not know him.
Pray for clarity and for courage. He doesn’t pray to be released nor does he ask that his life might be spared. He doesn’t ask for a miracle. He only asked for this:
- That when he opens his mouth he will have something to say, and
- That he will have the courage to say it.
What a man. What an example for the rest of us.
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