Praying for Others
“…making supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:18)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:18-20
Prayer, while critical for our safety in spiritual warfare, is not to be entirely self-focused. Rather, the “prayer-without-ceasing” kind of life that we are called to (Ephesians 6:18) is to reach out and embrace “all saints,” especially those who like Paul, are set apart to preach the gospel (vs. 19, 20).
“To that end,” the apostle writes, “keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (v. 19). The call to alertness – or wakefulness – and to “all perseverance” is as relevant today as it was when Paul first wrote these words. The gentle, unseen world of the Spirit and prayer is one that so easily slips from our thoughts. We will only maintain a spirit of continual prayerfulness if we constantly remind ourselves of our need for God’s help, and keep at it despite distractions and discouragements.
But even as we pray in the trials and challenges that meet us every day, we are not to think only of ourselves. Rather, we are to remember that the troubles we experience are common to all saints (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our personal crises should make us lift to God others who might be enduring the same things.
Interestingly, Paul doesn’t hesitate to seek the prayers of his readers for himself as well. His passion for the kingdom and his dependence upon the grace of God for success meant there was no place in his thinking for mock modesty. Quite the opposite. His strategic role in the advance of the gospel, even while he is a “prisoner for the Lord,” compels him to ask others to include him in their prayers. Specifically, he asks his readers to pray “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (vs. 19, 20).
In keeping with his complete devotion to the cause of Christ, his concern is not for his comfort or even his soon release. It is simply for words to speak and the spirit of unfettered freedom to be able to declare them boldly in the circumstances he finds himself at the moment – an ambassador of Christ in chains.
Both aspects of this request – words to speak, and boldness to declare them – are noteworthy. Paul believed Jesus’ promise to his disciples of the Spirit’s help to speak the gospel when brought before rulers (see Matthew 10:20; Luke 12:12). Furthermore, he believed that this help extended to the Spirit giving definite thoughts and words to say. And he knew that with that would come such an assurance of the truthfulness of those words, and confidence in their power to accomplish God’s work, that he would be emboldened to proclaim them (see Acts 4:8ff.).
This was what Paul asked his friends to pray for as they thought of him. How we need to make it our prayer as well – both for ourselves and for others.
- Do you pray for Christians in general?
- Do you believe the Holy Spirit can give you words to speak to others when necessary?
– Andrew Young