Striving Together in Prayer

Striving Together in Prayer

By John Miller

One of the great joys of the Apostle Paul in his ministry of church planting was the “partnership in the gospel” that he shared with various local churches (cf. Phil. 1:3-5). These partnerships were a source of great encouragement to Paul in times of trial and affliction, such as his imprisonment in Rome. These partnerships were not only “in giving and receiving” financial support (cf. Phil. 4:14-16), but also in praying for one another. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “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…” (Rm. 15:30). Though separated by distance, church planters and supporting churches are united before the throne of God as they strive together in prayer.

But what exactly should we pray for concerning our church planters and missionaries? While the answer to this question is almost limitless, consider two requests we learn from the Apostle Paul that are always appropriate for us to pray:

1. Pray for the Advancement of God’s Kingdom

This request comes as no surprise to us. After all, our Lord taught us to pray “your kingdom come” (Mt. 6:10). But notice some of the specific request Paul makes concerning the advancement of the Kingdom of God:

  • Pray for God to give boldness in proclaiming the gospel. In the midst of exhorting the Ephesians to pray for all the saints, Paul asks them to pray for him “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:19-20). Our church planters and missionaries face many temptations to shrink back in fear, and they need our prayers for God to give them courage and strength to boldly proclaim the gospel.
  • Pray for God to open doors for the gospel. Paul asked the Colossians to “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3). Our God is the Sovereign Lord who will show mercy to whom He will show mercy, and He calls us to pray to Him to open pathways for the gospel to run through our church planters and missionaries.
  • Pray for God to protect his servants from those who oppose the gospel. Paul asked the Thessalonians to “pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.” (1 Thess. 3:1-2). Paul certainly experienced the malice of wicked men as one who was slandered, beaten, and stoned. Such wicked men are still with us, and our church planters and missionaries need our prayers for their protection.

2. Pray for the Encouragement of God’s Servants

Paul and his missionary companions faced many discouragements on the field of service. He even faced hard times which he describes with these words: “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). Paul goes on to explain how God delivered them, yet it is in this context that Paul exhorts the Corinthians to pray for them: “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:11). Paul knows that God uses means, and that the blessings of God’s deliverance and encouragement come through the means of the prayers of God’s people. The work of church planting at home and abroad can be filled with many discouragements and times of loneliness. One of the great ways we can help our church planters and missionaries is by praying for God to grant them blessings of encouragement.

Brethren, let us continue to increase our joy in the Lord by striving together in prayer!

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