I recently was asked to research Paul’s requests for prayer.
They can be found in: Romans 15:30-32; Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
In doing this research, I learned the following:
The main request that Paul made was that the message, the Gospel, be advanced in some way. He asked for prayer that his ministry be acceptable, that he be given the message to speak, that he peak boldly, that the doors for the message be open, that he make the massage known, that the message spread quickly, and that the message be honored. In addition, twice he asked for deliverance or rescue from disobedient, perverse, or evil people; so that he be able to spread the message of the Gospel of Christ.This makes it abundantly clear to me that his primary concern was to advance the Kingdom of God effectively. I would call all these requests, nine points in all, a prayer request for effective ministry of the Gospel of Christ.
What can we learn about prayer by studying Paul’s requests?
In addition to his request to have an effective ministry for Jesus, Paul also asked for prayer for joy, refreshment, all the saints, thanksgiving, and those with him including himself. I would say that none of Paul’s requests for prayer were selfish in nature. He instructed that Christ’s followers should be praying at all times, and over in Philippians, he said with prayer and thanksgiving make our petitions known to God. However, he never really asked anything for himself. The only real example of that is when Paul tells us he requested his thorn in the flesh be removed, and the answer from God was NO.
My thinking about prayer and my prayer activity will change in the following ways because of what I have learned.
For myself, I have always felt uncomfortable asking for prayer for myself in any way, or for things for myself or my family. When I have do so, like asking financial help or foxhole prayers, I believe that those things, though sometimes honored by God, were not in line with what I have learned from Paul’s prayer requests. Paul wanted above all else for his ministry to be effective, for the words to speak, the boldness to speak them, and the message to be received with openness. I will start praying these types of prayer much more often…