Romans 15:30 I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
Probably countless “missionary prayer letters” have quoted this verse. In that sense, missions hasn’t changed for 2000 years! We all need prayer support, but there’s nothing like being a missionary to make you sharply aware of it. The human condition – our stupidity, our weaknesses in countless ways – hasn’t changed since the Garden of Eden. What is different is that now we have a much clearer revelation of God’s grace and mercy through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so a much brighter hope for overcoming it all. It certainly doesn’t do any good to get mad at Adam and Eve. Rather, we need to rejoice in Christ. We are created to need each other, and conversely, to support each other. Paul was certainly a giant of faith, yet he repeatedly asked others to pray for him. We should never hesitate to do likewise! The marvelous thing is, prayer works. To the secular mind nothing could be more illogical, but I think just about every believer has experienced it. The Bible is of course filled with many examples. I think one of the most amusing is when the believers were praying earnestly for Peter’s release, and then when God intervened miraculously they couldn’t believe it. (Acts 12:1-17) We laugh, but we often have no more faith that our prayers make a difference than they did. It is indeed a mystery why the Creator of the universe would choose to listen to us, or just how that works, really, but the fact remains that Jesus told us explicitly to ask, seek, and knock, (Matthew 7:7-11) and experience teaches us that it’s true. It’s not at all that we can dictate to God; true prayer is as much a surrendering of our will as it is asking God to do things. That’s part of why it’s such a mystery. However, the fact remains that we need to support one another in prayer, and that God uses our prayers to accomplish His perfect will.
I have experienced this countless times, and I couldn’t be more convinced of it. That said, I don’t pray for others as much as I could or should. When I feel a “prayer deficit” in my own life, I need to focus on praying for others! Just this morning I ran smack into my own weakness, experiencing the stupidity of resentment. That gives me much better understanding and empathy for those around me who likewise allow resentment and unforgiveness to deprive them of God’s blessings. I have prided myself on being a forgiving person, and God has allowed this experience to show me just how foolish that pride is. For much of my life I have tended to be a loner, interacting with others at my convenience and often not making the effort. That doesn’t fit with how God designed mankind. Just like Paul, I need the support of others, and I need to lend my support to them. The spiritual battle is fierce, and none of us can make it alone. However, in Christ we are indeed more than conquerors, (Romans 8:37) when we are knit together as His body.
Father, thank You for this strong lesson. Like most such, it doesn’t feel very good in the moment, but the results will be good. (Hebrews 12:11) Thank You for all You have planned for today. Help me flow with Your Spirit on Your schedule so that I will be fully useful to You, and won’t miss out on any of the blessings You have planned for me, either. Thank You. Praise God!