Paul And Prayer
Paul being, as he put it, an apostle born out of season wrote fourteen of the New Testament books. He too was endowed with the Holy Spirit for in 2 Peter 2:21 we are told "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost".
Paul said about prayer, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17); "Continuing instant in prayer" (Romans 12:8); "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting" (1 Tim. 2:8); "I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men ..." (1 Tim 2:1,2); "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6,7).
It was said to me years ago about a man whose name had been placed before the congregation to become an elder, "I am afraid that Brother ... is not a praying man". I didn't say anything, but I wondered why that person thought that. I am sure, however, that I am right in saying Paul was a praying man, and he reason I know is by his prayers and his teaching on prayer. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1). Paul knew the importance of prayer. He was raised as a Pharisee who engaged often in prayer. When Ananias objected to going to Saul, the Lord assured him by saying, "Behold, he prayeth". He had witnessed Christians, who were being sorely tried, praying. He had heard Stephen cry, "Lay not this sin to their charge". Later on, after his conversion and his preaching got him in trouble in Philippi, he and his co-worker were heard at midnight "singing and praying to God" from their jail cell.
The letters attributed to him in the New Testament are filled with prayers for churches and individuals. For the Christians at Philippi he prayed:
I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)
His establishing the church there resulted in a church with a mission vision. They had had fellowship in the "furtherance of the gospel from the first day". And he asked that their love might abound yet more and more.
His prayer for the Ephesians and for their elders in Acts 20:
For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might Ephesians 1:15-19.
In Ephesians 3:14-19 we read this petition:
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19.
Summarizing, there are at least eight things mentioned in these prayers. They are:
1. He asked the Father to grant them a spirit of wisdom so they may understand the revelation, and to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
2. He asked the Father to help them know the hope of His calling.
3. He asked the Father that they may know the exceeding greatness of His power to those who believe.
4. He asked for divine strength for the soul.
5. He asked for the indwelling of Christ in their hearts by faith.
6. He prayed that their love may be stable.
7. He prayed for them to comprehend the four-dimensional love of God.
8. He asked for the fullness of God to fill them.
Act 20:28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
Act 20:29 I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock;
Act 20:30 and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Act 20:31 Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears.
Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified.
Act 20:33 I coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
Act 20:34 Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
Act 20:35 In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Act 20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them all.
His prayer for the Thessalonians:
1Th 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
1Th 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;
1Th 1:4 knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election,
1Th 1:5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.
1Th 1:6 And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit;
1Th 1:7 so that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.
1Th 1:8 For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything.
1Th 1:9 For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God,
1Th 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come.
Before Paul closed the letter, he wrote:
1Th 3:9 For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
1Th 3:10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
1Th 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, d
irect our way unto you: 1Th 3:12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you;
1Th 3:13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Great delight filled the heart of the aged apostle as he remembered his beloved brethren at Thessalonica. He wanted to see them face to face and he would pray night and day that this joy would be realized. In spite of the great record of this church, Paul felt they had not yet arrived. He wanted the church to "increase and abound". He prayed for the church to grow both numerically and spiritually. Knowing that "love for one another" is the disciple's badge, he prayed that their love one for another would abound, but he did not want their love to be selfish so he asked that their love would abound unto all men. This would assure the future peace and unity of the congregation. It would also assure diligent efforts being made in order to make the church a blessing in the community. He asked that their hearts be "stablished unblameable in holiness". An established heart is not fickle, changeable, or divided. It is a faithful heart against which no charge may be sustained.
Charging "this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren", Paul closes with the memorable charge "Pray without ceasing" and "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you".
Paul's prayer for the Romans:
Rom 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
Rom 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers
Rom 1:10 making request, if by any means now at length I may be prospered by the will of God to come unto you.
Rom 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
Rom 1:12 that is, that I with you may be comforted in you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.
The origin of the church at Rome is unknown. We know there were Jews from Rome present at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost that no doubt heard Peter preach his powerful sermon in Acts 2. Paul had preached the gospel in Greece, Acts 17. The large number of Greek names which are named in the last chapter of Romans may offer some light upon the origin of the church there. Of the two million people who lived in Rome, one million of them were slaves. Rome was not only the seat of the most dominant government of the world at that time, it was also the metropolis of the world. Thus, Paul was praying for many people he had never seen and for a church he had never visited.
Paul longed to see his Roman brethren that he might "impart some spiritual gift" which would aid in helping to establish them in the faith. No doubt the spiritual gift referred to was the gift that was imparted to God's children by the laying on of the apostles' hands (Acts 8:18).
Paul's prayer for the "faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse" is recorded in these words:
Col 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col 1:10 to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Col 1:11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy;
Col 1:12 giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;
Col 1:13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; Col 1:14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:
Col 1:15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;
Col 1:16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;
Col 1:17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
This lengthy statement is just one sentence with many profound truths which not only set forth the "deep things of the mind of God", but also give us a better understanding of the prayer life of this great servant of the Lord Jesus.
Now, the prayer of Paul is adorned with the grace of gratitude as he expresses his gratitude to the Father for what He had done for them, and for the abundance of His grace provided in the coming of Jesus Christ. He was thankful because God had made them "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light". Paul was thankful that the loving and eternal purpose of God had been realized in the conversion of the Colossians. Thus, they had become "meet" which means "suitable, fit, prepared" for the inheritance of the saints of light. Furthermore, Paul is thankful because such a deliverance had been affected by and through Jesus Christ, who will become the dominant theme of this entire letter. In order to be made "meet" a deliverance had to be affected, and a translation had to be consummated. "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son". Paul was thankful for the abiding blessing of "redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins".
These great blessings are made possible through the person of Christ. To be made suitable to be heirs of God's inheritance, the problem of sin had to be dealt with. God dealt with it by forgiving it "in Christ". The pre-eminence of Christ made such blessings possible. He is the "image of the invisible God". He is "the firstborn of every creature". All things "by him were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth". He is "before all things, and by Him all things consists". He is "the head of the body, the church". In all things he must have the pre-eminence. What a savior!