Written in 2009
PAUL’S REQUEST FOR PRAYER FOR HIMSELF
A few days ago, during my devotions, I departed for a day from my usual Bible reading practices to do an analysis of the requests for prayer for himself made by Paul. I think the results are very significant. I will just reproduce below what I wrote down that day after this analysis.
REFERENCES IN CANONICAL ORDER
I counted requests for prayer from the recipients of his letters in 8 of his 13 letters (I may have missed some). Note: I have counted statements that he prays for his recipients in 10 of his 13 letters.
1. WRESTLING TOGETHER WITH PAUL THROUGH COMPREHENSIVE PRAYER FOR HIM
- Deliverance from unbelievers in Judea
- Acceptance by the saints in Jersusalem
- Paul’s dream of visiting Rome
30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,
32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
2. FOR PAUL AND FOR BLESSINGS ON HIS MINISTRY
2 Cor. 1:11:
3. FOR PAUL’S EVANGELISTIC EFFECTIVENESS
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
4. PRAYER PUT ALONGSIDE THE HELP OF THE SPIRIT IN CAUSING PAUL’S RELEASE FROM PRISON
5. FOR EVANGELISTIC EFFECTIVENESS
- for open doors
- for clarity in proclamation
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
6. GENERAL REQUEST FOR PRAYER
1 Thess. 5:25
7. FOR EVANGELISTIC EFFECTIVENESS AND DELIVERANCE FROM OPPONENTS
2 Thess. 3:1-2
8. FOR PAUL’S RELEASE FROM PRISON AND FOR HIM TO BE ABLE TO COME TO COLOSSAE
TOPICAL ANALYSIS OF PAUL’S REQUEST FOR PRAYER FOR HIM
One General Unspecified Request for Prayer
- 1 Thess. 5:25.
Partnership in Ministry.
- Almost all of these texts show that Prayer is partnership in ministry. Rom. 15:30 is most vivid using the word meaning, “strive together,” “wrestle together” (sunagōnizomai), for the prayers.
- Phil. 1:19 presents the prayers of the Philippians alongside the Holy Spirit as causing Paul’s release from prison.
- 2 Cor. 1:11 talks of praying as helping Paul and being a means to blessing in ministry resulting in many people thanking God.
Acceptance by other Christians.
- Paul asks for prayers that the Christians in Jerusalem would accept him and his service to them (Rom. 15:31).
For Evangelistic Effectiveness. Prayer is asked often for Paul’s evangelistic ministry;
- for open doors for evangelism (Col. 4:3; );
- for the right words to use (Eph. 6:19, 20—twice; );
- for clarity in proclamation (Co. 4:4)
- for boldness in speaking (Eph. 6:19-20—twice);
- for the Word to speed ahead and be honoured (2 Thess. 3:1)
His Dreams of Visiting them.
- Paul asks for prayer that his dream of visiting the people he is writing to may be fulfilled (Rome—Rom. 15:32; Colossae—Phlm. 22) would be fulfilled (Note he himself prayed night and day that he may be able to visit Thessalonica—1 Thess. 3:10).
Deliverance from Trouble. Prayer is asked for deliverance from trouble;
- from prison (Phil. 1:19; Phlm. 22) and
- from opponents (Rom. 15:31; 2 Thess. 3:2).
THE MESSAGE I WANT TO BURN INTO YOUR HEARTS IS THIS:
ASK PEOPLE TO PRAY FOR YOU!
If we do anything worthwhile in life, it is because of grace. Prayer is one of the great agents through which grace flows into our lives. Not all of the people whom we ask to pray for us will take up the challenge. And we must not blame them. People have so many demands on their time these days that they need to decide what challenges they will personally take on and what they will not. If you ask fifteen people and five people pray for you—that is well worth the effort.
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b).