Read Ephesians 6:18-20
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
19 And pray for me,too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now,still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him,as I should. (NLT)
We have all had the uncomfortable experience of having our fervent prayers apparently unanswered. Or at least not getting the response we figured ought to come. This is a big topic and a profound mystery,as well as being more than occasionally discouraging.
However,we must not let such a significant issue blind us to the truth that God wants us to pray and that prayer somehow achieves something. Paul writes here as one who doesn’t just want the psychological encouragement of knowing others are thinking of him. He seems to believe that their prayers will make a difference to his life and work.
We can’t precisely define how such prayer ‘works’. Our prayers certainly don’t override another person’s freedom. But our prayers can help shape outcomes,demolish strongholds,open doors,help people be open to the gospel even if they don’t dictate the response. We are meant to pray for one another and seek prayer from others on the assumption that these prayers somehow have an effect.
This is admittedly rather vague and ambiguous. So be it. Simple answers to the mystery of prayer are likely to be simplistic. But never let the mysteries stop us praying that God will have his way. It seems God feels free to take up these prayers and have them shape his good purposes. Prayer doesn’t always ‘work’ the way we wish it would. But it does somehow ‘work’.
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