PRAYER FOR OTHERS: PART 3 – APOSTLE PAUL'S REQUEST FOR PRAYER
Dear Members in Christ,
Prayer for others: Part 3 – Apostle Paul’s request for prayer
Amongst the exhortation to pray for others, we find one theme which often appears in the Apostle Paul’s epistle and that is the request for the saints to pray for one another. For instance, in Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul exhorts, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” In previous articles, the topic of prayer for others has been covered. In this article, we would like to examine a particular prayer request of the Apostle Paul. The request for prayer for the preaching and teaching ministry of the Apostle Paul. For this, Paul exhorts that a church in Ephesus prays for him,
“And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19, 20
In this prayer request, the Apostle Paul requests that utterance be given to him so that he may be able to preach the mystery of the Gospel. What does this mean? In this article, we shall explore how the church ought to respond to Paul’s prayer request, and how the scripture guides us in making supplications for the preaching ministry of God’s word.
A. The call to pray for the ministry of preaching the Gospel
The Apostle Paul requests prayer that “utterance be given to him.” The word utterance is translated from “logos” which means something said or by extension thought about a particular subject. In this case, the topic in question is “the mystery of the gospel.” In the bible, we have the pattern of the prophets of God, and they ought to speak only the things which the Spirit of God moves them to speak. In the case of Paul, he requests that God will give him the words and thoughts that will enable him to convey the message of the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul refers to the message of the Gospel as a mystery. In 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul explains why this is a mystery, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” This is referred to as a mystery because unlike us who have the full revelation of the scriptures in the present day, the gospel of Jesus Christ had only then been introduced to the saints in the early church. Therefore, the preaching ministry of the Apostle Paul is “breaking new ground” so to speak. And therefore, he requests that God will give him the utterance – the words, the thoughts to convey this message to the hearers.
Brothers and sisters, does this guide us in how we ought to pray for the preaching of God’s word? Yes indeed, one of the prayer items in our prayer meeting list is the prayer for “the preaching ministry in Calvary Jaya.” One aspect of the preaching ministry we can pray about is for God to lead the preachers in their preparation of the sermons. The scripture is God’s word and therefore, the preacher needs to rely on the Holy Spirit, and a spiritual mind to discern and expound the word. We can pray for God’s wisdom upon the preachers as they prepare the sermon content, that God will help the preachers to understand and apply the message in their lives and thus preach a message that will also teach and guide God’s people.
B. The prayer for the servant of God, the ambassador in bonds
The Apostle Paul ends his exhortation in this verse with, “for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” At the time when Paul wrote this epistle to the Ephesians, he was still in prison. The loss of personal liberty does not hinder Paul in his ministry. The Apostle Paul’s view of his incarceration is not one of captivity or bondage. But rather Paul sees his time in prison as an appointment to a high calling, for he refers to himself as a senior, one of a high calling, translated as “an ambassador.” He refers to himself not as a “prisoner”, although he does use the term elsewhere in other epistles. Instead, he sees himself as a representative, one who conveys God’s word to others.
The Apostle Paul’s prayer request is that God may give him boldness in his preaching. Even in the circumstances that Paul was under as a prisoner, he requested the ability to speak boldly, with confidence, with assurance as a minister of God’s word. The minister of God is to preach God’s word without fear or favor. The Gospel of salvation is to be preached without watering down the need to acknowledge that we are sinners before God. The building up of the faith of God’s people requires confidence and courage in preaching to strengthen the weak in the faith and to reproof those who need correction. This is why Paul says, “as I ought to speak.” The apostle Paul may be a prisoner, but that does not deter him from requesting prayer to be bold and courageous in the preaching of God’s word.
Brothers and sisters, let us be encouraged to pray for the preachers and teachers of God’s word. Let us pray for the preachers in the preparation of their messages. That God will give them the wisdom to draw lessons and applications that will teach and guide God’s people to walk close to the Lord. Pray also that the preachers and teachers of God’s word will be bold in the teaching of God’s word. That the message of God’s word will be clear and precise, that indeed the word of God will be to God’s people, “…. quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. May God be glorified.
Dn. Lim Seh Beng