Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints...Romans 15:30-31
What was behind this mighty apostle's ministry? Why has it lasted for two thousand years? What was it that opened the doors and gave him access even into Caesar's household, and before the throne of the emperor himself? Paul would tell you it was because of the prayers of God's people for him. He was well aware of the ministry of prayer, and he urges them to pray. You get a brief word on the nature of prayer — what is the basis of it?
I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit... Prayer is born of the Spirit of God within us, awakening a desire to help, a sense of love and compassion. We pray to honor the Lord Jesus. This is what will stir people to pray more than anything else — not beating them with a whip. I learned that long ago. It is when people begin to see that the honor of Christ is involved, and the love of the Spirit is fulfilled when you pray, that they will really begin to pray. That is what the apostle appeals to here.
Join me in my struggle. Life is a struggle, and Paul sees prayer as a way of fighting in that combat. It is a great weapon which can batter down doors and open others. It can remove obstacles, withstand tremendous pressure and forces, and uphold people and sustain them.
I would say that if there is one thing a church needs more than anything else, it is this kind of prayer. This is a critical hour in the church's history. We have great opportunities before us. But what we need above all else is people who will pray that we can lay hold of the need of the hour. Notice what Paul requested of them:
Pray for protection from the unbelievers, and for acceptance from the saints. The reason he asked that is that these are the two areas that Satan loves to attack. If he can lay a person low with physical illness, or spiritual attack, this is what he will do. Prayer is particularly powerful at this point. It can protect someone in danger. When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, there came a moment when he was set upon by a mob in the temple courts. They were out to kill him, right on the spot. They had rocks in their hands, and were going to stone him to death. But it just so happened that at the critical moment, the commander of the Roman legion looked over into the temple court and saw what was going on. He came down with a band of soldiers and rescued the apostle just in time. So that prayer was answered, and Paul was protected from the unbelievers.
Father, thank you so much for the many answered prayers to rejoice in today — the many changed lives; the many homes that have been made right and happy, where once they were sad and hostile; the many lives that have been filled with joy and peace and thanksgiving.
Do we consider prayer optional? Have we considered the consequences, to the glory of God and the fruitful ministry of His messengers? What is the impact of prayer as a vital weapon in the ongoing saga of spiritual warfare?