Published October 2, 2014
Bible Studies for Life, Oct. 12
Paul’s last little bit of instruction he offered to the Ephesians is his most important. Through saving the best for last he taught us to pray on all occasions, and pray with all kinds of prayers in everything that we do, and never, ever forget to pray for each other.
The primacy of prayer - Ephesians 6:18-20
Prayer is our lifeline to the Savior. Prayer is what keeps us going. Prayer changes the outcome. Pray. Pray and do, but never forget to pray.
Andrew Murray, a great South African pastor of the late 1800s, wrote, “We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.” The apostle Paul knew and wholeheartedly believed this, and then in a touching and intimate moment adds – please remember to pray for me.
It is amazing that in Paul’s position as a prisoner he doesn’t ask for prayer for his health, position, comfort, or freedom, but only that words never fail him. He asks that you pray so that he might testify with no fear to the mystery of the Gospel.
Paul’s little phrase – “mystery of the Gospel” – which he used in verse 19 has caused some confusion over the years. This mystery is foundational to our faith. The mystery of the Gospel is that salvation is offered to all of us. The mystery is that God desires a relationship with both the Jew and the Gentile.
His offer of a relationship is for all. The mystery is that no one has to earn this relationship or purchase it. The mystery is that it is a free gift available to all, and Paul asks that you pray that he never fail in sharing this mystery when he has the opportunity. He asks for courage to do so.
Paul’s intimate request illustrates the vulnerability of us all. It shows that even the heroes of the faith need God’s presence and power. No one is strong enough to serve Christ in his or her own power, but this vulnerability when realized is what makes us powerful.
Through prayer we are connected to an incredible unseen source of strength. Through prayer we are connected to the creator of the universe. Through prayer we are connected to each other, and it doesn’t matter the language that we speak nor the color of our skin.
These two verses should remind us that we can do nothing without the power of God coursing through our veins – no matter who we are.
Paul’s personal request should translate into action from God’s modern army. Our church and denomination’s leadership needs our prayers.
Often people internally decide that the church’s leadership is okay with God. Because of his title or position it is easy to believe that the man standing in front of you every Sunday has it all together and is always in a close personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, so he is overlooked in prayer. But Paul’s simple request highlights that no matter who the leadership is, they are human. They are frail. They need prayers as well.
E.M. Bounds, a great preacher and author, wrote, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.”
I know a bit about the power of prayer on behalf of church leadership. For ten years I served churches as a staff member, and for about another nine years I served as a foreign missionary, and I am now serving as a pastor. As I look back over the years, and especially during the hardest of seasons, I can point to special moments with God and they were always preceded by the knowledge that someone somewhere was praying for me.
Many times when I felt the loneliest or the most outcast, I would receive some special encouraging note or call from someone who told me they were praying for me. There were times when I knew that God had spared our lives while on the side of a mountain somewhere, and then discovered later that at those exact moments there was someone praying on our behalf.
Prayer makes a difference. Prayer connects us to God – our only source of strength. Prayer connects us to each other, and it makes a difference for any leader especially when he feels like he is standing alone.
Praying for leaders - Ephesians 6:21-24
Am I praying for others? Am I praying for my pastor, staff, and church leadership on a regular basis? Am I praying for them even when I am a bit angry at them over something they did, didn’t do, or did not do quite up to my expectations?
Paul concludes his letter by introducing the deliverer of the message, Tychicus, and then he tells the hearers that this messenger will bring the news of how he is faring in order to ease their worry.
Tychicus was a normal companion of Paul, and he may have been known in Ephesus. He had been with Paul from Greece to Asia (Acts 20:4). He was with Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). He was with Paul in Rome (Col. 4:7-8). Later he would be sent by Paul to deliver another letter to the church at Colosse (Col. 4:7-8). After this introduction he concludes by calling for peace and tells them that he loves them.
Even in prison Paul was thinking of others, as should we.
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