Ephesians 6:19-20 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Paul was literally chained at the time he wrote this, and it wasn’t long after that he was martyred. However, he didn’t request prayer in relation to his discomfort or his danger, but rather that he would have the courage and the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. That is an example we should all aspire to! Most of our prayer requests tend to be self-centered, all about I-my-me-mine. Paul, in contrast, is focused on “the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” exactly as Jesus told us to be. (Matthew 6:33) There are places in the world today where proclaiming the Gospel is as dangerous as it was for Paul, but those in more tolerant areas tend to forget and/or ignore that fact, if they ever knew it in the first place. America was founded on the idea of religious liberty, but the tide of opposition has certainly been rising. Thankfully, the Supreme Court recently slapped down one politician who was acting against the Church, and looks likely to do more such things, thanks to the recently created majority of justices who take the Constitution at its word. Even so, American Christians tend to be shocked when there is any official opposition to their religion, not to mention their faith, forgetting that people with genuine, Biblical faith have faced intense opposition for the past 2000 years. We need to get past the “best life now” mentality and focus on God being recognized as holy as His kingdom comes through His will being done, not just for us but by us. I’m reminded of John F. Kennedy’s famous words in his inaugural address: “Ask not what you country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Too many Christians are in it strictly for all the benefits, rather than because God is completely worthy of our total devotion and obedience. There are indeed countless benefits to faith in Christ, but if that is our focus, we put ourselves in the category of the shallow, rocky soil or the soil covered with weeds in Jesus’ famous parable. (Luke 8:5-15)
The majority of the opposition I have faced has been disinterest, or twisting my words and intentions. I can’t say I have ever been put into major inconvenience even, much less physical danger, because of my faith. At times I think my faith and obedience are weaker as a result. I subscribe to online newsletters that inform me of the struggles of my brothers and sisters around the world, but I hardly ever do more than pray. However, I do pray, and that’s a blessing. Recently I’ve been praying about the situation in the US, that the blessings of genuine liberty would not be lost, but the situation there doesn’t compare to places in India, Nigeria, and elsewhere, with people being beaten or hacked to death because of their proclamation of the Gospel. America is awash with Bible teaching, much of it very good, when such teaching is literally illegal in some places. Those who have access to the Word need to treasure it, hide it in their hearts, and live it out, and that certainly includes me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the freedom to believe that I have here in Japan. I pray that I would make full use of it, proclaiming the mystery of the Gospel as Paul did, since I am not chained. May I be fully useful to You in destroying the works of the devil and bringing many people into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!