Ephesians 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.
Paul was not hesitant to ask people to pray for him, and by this point he had learned that he needed to speak only the words God gave him, and not anything he had come up with on his own. It is ironic that people at the top, so to speak, can forget that they need others to support them in prayer, and at the same time people under them can forget that their leaders are just as human as they are, and genuinely need people to pray for them. When Paul was giving Timothy priorities for the Church, he said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) We are to pray for our secular leaders as well as our spiritual leaders. I have read that the words President Trump is happiest to hear are, “I am praying for you.” That’s certainly appropriate, when his every word and decision impacts so many people, and is endlessly dissected as well. Closer to home, pastors often feel very isolated. They are very much in need of being prayed for, and of knowing that people are praying for them. Too often we see them as “spiritual giants” who dispense the mercies of God, when in fact they are just as human and fallible as anyone in their congregation. Reading this prayer request of Paul, I get the feeling he had experienced speaking on his own, instead of just the words God gave him, more times than he cared to remember, and he didn’t want to do any more of it. He certainly knew what it was like to speak out the very words of God, but he also knew the reverse of that, and wanted prayer support to be faithful as God’s spokesman.
As a pastor myself, as well as a man of words in general, this couldn’t be closer to home. Recently I’ve had a strong reminder of the dangers of just speaking, rather than limiting what I say to the words God gives me. I have been given a gift for words, and I’m not to take a vow of silence or anything like that, but I am to submit my every word to God before it goes out of my mouth, and I need all the prayer support I can get to be able to do that. Yesterday I experienced a clear check on something I was about to say, and I am grateful that I didn’t say it. Today a non-Christian couple is supposed to come by, and I need to speak God’s words only to them. Tomorrow, of course, I will be speaking out the message in the service. I am always aware of my responsibility at that time, but I need to be just as much under the control of the Holy Spirit in everything I say before and after the service. We are slated to have foreign visitors tomorrow. I am to make them feel welcome, but not neglect the members in my focus on the visitors. “Speaking the words I’m given” is a full time occupation!
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. I pray that I would be faithful in praying for others, and that like Paul, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask others to pray for me, so that in all things I may be Your agent, and not just a “loose cannon,” firing words at random and doing damage instead of accomplishing Your will. Thank You. Praise God!