I need Prayer

“Morning Paul – praying for you today as you carry the burden of all the churches under your care …”

That was the text I received yesterday morning from one of my ministers. It was unexpected but not only was I immediately encouraged I understood that the ancient practice of praying for each other had not lost its power. The Apostle knew the power of praying for others. He says in this next verse, “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 v 19-20

How many times do you say or have it said to you, “I’ll pray for you”? We all know that it is either a) often used out of a sense of care and because we love that person; b) it is focused on getting the person out of the situation, we want them to be healed immediately, we don’t want them to suffer or c) it means nothing!

“Pray for me” the Apostle asks.

There are evidences that Paul at times does ask for help to be rescued from deadly peril etc. But here is one of the many examples where Paul moves into another level of prayer altogether. So from these 2 verses what do they show us about prayer?

  1. Paul believes in it.

It is difficult to try and explain how prayer works. It seems a nonsense. How can someone like me in my small world be heard by God who seems not only invisible but is spoken of as so great and powerful that He couldn’t possibly be interested in giving me a good day?!

Unless!

Unless as Paul believes that when a person goes on being filled with the Spirit of God in their lives that God who is actually Spirit, Breath, like a Wind, resides in Christ followers. It is then when prayer (which is simply a conversation with God) becomes not only understandable but believable. That prayer does work. Prayer impacts our world. For God is here.

  • Paul knows the kind of conversations to have with God

Yesterday I was chairing the International board meeting for Elim Globally, which is always a huge privilege and totally inspiring for me and the 10 leaders from around the world who are at that meeting. As we have done in a previous meeting during this covid-pandemic we focused on the difficulties the Church is facing during this time. Over the last few months I have found myself discussing with my ministers the question around our buildings, “When should we go back?” Also what are we permitted to do when we do go back? Of course all the ministers under my care vary in their opinions about this. Nevertheless that has been the big conversation. At this meeting yesterday we didn’t have time to hear from all the nations but I was particularly interested in one of the hardest hit nations, India. The leader is called Rajesh and belongs to a Church denomination known as the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society and their history with Elim is a special one. I invited Rajesh to speak. He had often taught me how when persecution struck them as it has done on many occasions in their history that their vision and strategy for the gospel simply exploded with radical steps of faith so I was interested with how this pandemic had effected them. (India has now 5 million people infected with the virus with upwards of 100,000 being infected every day). He explained how a) they had taken the decision not to open their buildings till 2022; b) they had decided to ‘make every house a church’ with intensified Church leadership training and 2 households would make a church. They are envisaging a new explosion of growth with the gospel. At the same time they will carry on building new church buildings so that in 2022 they are ready when they emerge from their house churches. They are expecting huge growth of new believers.

Of course there isn’t anything wrong with praying for covid to leave this world; there isn’t anything wrong to pray about how we will navigate going back to our buildings; but the point is there is another kind of conversation to have with God around His mission. Rajesh knows it. The Apostle knew it, again, look what he says:

“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.”

He is not asking to be freed from prison. He is not asking to be sustained in prison. He is asking a kingdom prayer. He is wanting his words to be fearless. He is wanting to do what he knows he should be doing.

  • Paul knows that prayer brings a different perspective, God’s.

As we come to the end of this letter to the Ephesians Paul is saying the same thing as he commenced it with.

We have to go 109 blogs back and we find these verses, (Ephesians 1:1-3) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus,the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul doesn’t start his letter about being locked down or contained or not free to travel. He begins with God and He ends with Him also.

“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.”

Prayer for Paul helps him realise who God calls him not what his circumstance calls him. He is not a prisoner of the Romans he is an ambassador of the gospel, a representative of the good news of Jesus Christ, in that prison and from that prison.

Around the world today there are prisoners, ambassadors of the gospel in chains, they were locked down years ago. This last week thankfully 27 Christian prisoners in Eritrea were released and in July there were others. In total there are around 500 ambassadors of the gospel in an Eritrean prison and there are around 30,000 Christians in North Korean labour camps. But where they are so is the gospel. Do we pray for their release, of course, but they teach us to pray for the gospel to be known fearlessly! (You could find out more from this section of a website: https://releaseinternational.org/lockdown-church/

So don’t be afraid to ask for prayer. But perhaps think through what you would like prayer for. Take your eyes off the obvious and have a different conversation with God from His perspective. Above all believe in it for prayer does work!

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