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Prayer Opens Doors For Truth

Colossians 4:3-4
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (NIVUK)

The Apostle Paul was an expert evangelist.  He had experience, commitment, and perseverance.  Through his ministry, many had started to follow Jesus Christ and churches had been planted.  Despite imprisonment, he continued preaching and sent teaching letters to many places.  Yet, he was not ashamed to ask the churches he had planted or encouraged to pray for him (Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:19).  Even though he had probably never directly ministered to the Colossian church, he also asked them to pray for him.  Did Paul have a problem?  Was he distressed or depressed?  Were his chains the final discouragement?  Was he losing his grip, or even his faith?  No!  But he was honest.  

However great his evangelistic 'successes' he knew he was incapable of achieving anything for God by himself (John 15:5).  His ability and confidence to serve the Lord came only from the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:5).  Even though he was imprisoned (Colossians 4:18), his work was not finished.  Jesus had commanded Paul to take the gospel message of Jesus to many nations who had no understanding of the True God (Acts 17:22-23), and that suffering was all part of the commission (Acts 9:15-16).  Indeed, suffering for the sake of Christ enabled Paul to explain about Jesus to the governing authorities and then Caesar himself (Acts 25:11).  Paul’s ambition was not to end his suffering but to let the Lord use his suffering to give him a platform for the gospel (Philippians 1:15-18).  

If the gospel was to lodge in people's hearts, he knew that God had to give him the opportunity to speak  and trusted Him to open their hearts (Acts 16:14).  He knew that all his experience of preaching was not enough.  Unless the Lord guided his heart and mind and tongue, the Word of God would seem like nonsense to his hearers.  So, he asked the church to pray for him. Even the newest believer could pray for the great Apostle, that God would use his words so that others would hear, believe, repent and receive Jesus.
Paradoxically, a strong ministry can disable God's servants, but He will use people who admit they are weak (1 Corinthians 1:27).  Although prayer may seem muscle-less, it is very powerful because God acts when His people cry out to Him (James 5:16).  Sadly, some believers think of ministers as celebrities or super-saints (2 Corinthians 12:11-12).  That is a worldly assessment based on their apparent 'success': it is wrong.  No servant of God can minister effectively without others praying.  They need prayer far more than money.  So, instead of worshipping the 'successful' preachers and criticising the 'unsuccessful' - pray for them.  If the Apostle Paul needed that, so do they.  And what about you?  Do you believe that the Lord will open doors for you to speak of Christ, and be clear about what you are saying, if you pray and others also pray for you?  Interestingly the Bible says almost nothing about praying for the unbeliever, but much more about praying for the believer to have boldness, faith and wisdom in their witness.  Who does the Lord want you to support in prayer?  And who can you ask to support yourself?  Think, pray, decide and do it ... for Jesus’ sake.

Loving, strong and ever-wise God. Thank You that You are building Your Kingdom by using weak people who are totally dependent on You. Forgive my foolish thinking when I praise some of Your ministers and criticise others - help me to pray for them. Help me also to have the humility to ask others to pray for me. May I never assume that my experience and talents can replace Your power and wisdom. Help me to develop an honest relationship with You and my fellow Christians; working for You and praying that You will do Your work through us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams