Reciprocity in Prayer
Eph. 6:19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
We have been blessed by the prayers of the Apostle Paul and the way in which he prayed for those whom he was discipling. His prayers have reached all the way down to us today. But now we find this twist. He asks that those in the church in Ephesus also pray for him. He recognizes that he also needs this type of support from them.
Paul gives them the specifics of his prayer request. He wants them to pray for him to have a message to speak about the mystery of the gospel. Jerome says that this should be understood as if Paul had said, “Let the treasuries be opened. Let the promises hidden from ages be revealed. Let the Spirit enter to bring forth those things that have been concealed.” That is a powerful prayer for not just a good message to preach, but one that reveals the hidden promises of God.
At the same time Paul requests prayer for boldness but this boldness needs to be tied to his own spiritual life. Origen says, “Boldness of speech is a possibility only and always for those who have a heart that does not condemn them… and therefore the one who boldly makes known the mysteries is rare, because those who have boldness before God are rare.” Therefore this simple prayer request of Paul is profoundly deep and we begin to understand the reason for this request. While he prayed earnestly for the Christ followers of Ephesus, he, himself was in desperate need of their prayers.
If Paul the great missionary and Apostle needed this type of prayer support — how much more do we? God still needs followers today who will preach with “boldness the mystery of the gospel.” I’m afraid that far too often the messages which are preached today are filled with “cute” stories and anecdotes and yet fail to be bold when it comes to unlocking the “promises hidden from the ages.” The message is not supposed to draw attention to the one who is proclaiming, but instead is to point toward the deeper mysteries of God.
That’s what makes the statement of Origen so profound. This prayer of Paul is not just for his words, but that he himself will be the man with a pure heart that he needs to be, and that becomes a challenge to us as well. If we are to proclaim boldly the mysteries of God we, too, must have a pure heart.
All of this brings us to a very humble recognition that we need the fellowship of the saints! We need to be in a relationship with other Jesus followers who will be praying for us. We for them — and they for us. This is reciprocity in prayer and it’s what must happen within a community of believers. Paul was passionate about praying for the Ephesians and he needed them to be passionate about praying for him.
Who is it that God may be challenging us to pray for today?
Lord, thank you for those who pray for me, and may I be faithful in lifting them to you. May your mystery be spoken boldly. Amen.