Realizing our Riches | Ephesians 6:19-20 | Prayer, your Ministry to your Minister
Ephesians 6:19-20 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Here Paul's instruction to pray has given way to a request for prayer. We ought to pray always with all prayer and for all saints, and we ought to pray in the Spirit, according to God's will, these were the instructions of verse 18. Now a personal prayer request comes from the shepherd of the flock to the sheep. Paul needed the prayers of the people he was ministering to. He needed the prayers of the people for which he had been imprisoned. Paul had been given special revelation, Paul had entered into the third heaven, Paul had seen Jesus on the Damascus Road, but all the special revelations that had been given to Paul were not enough to strengthen him to the fight, to open his mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel. He not only required the prayers of others but felt his need for them. Not prayers for comfort, not prayers for freedom, not prayers for a quick release from his current imprisonment but prayers for boldness and proclamation of the gospel. What a selfless request, it was his bold preaching that had gotten him in the situation he was currently in, and yet he asks his people to pray that he would not lose his boldness or willingness to preach, even in the face of certain persecution. This is a request not rooted in the desires of the flesh but the desires of the new man created by God. Paul is an example to all believers but especially to pastors and church planters. His view should be our view, his burden should be our burden, We should follow him as he followed Christ. Christ is our Saviour but in this current dispensation, Paul is to us what Moses was to Israel. Moses was not their God but he was the man that God used to reveal his will to Israel. Moses received the law on the Mount and Paul received the mysteries of the gospel in Arabia not by the will of man or at the hand of the Apostles but by the revelation of Jesus Christ [Galatians 1:11-24]. Paul's request of prayer for himself is a lesson to both under-shepherds and sheep. Speaking first to the leaders, we need the prayers of the people we minister to. Don't think that this is a one-man show, God has placed you where you are to "feed the sheep." I would remind you of what Paul said, by The Holy Ghost, earlier in this very epistle: Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: He has given you to the body of Christ to edify them, sadly many pastors seek for the congregation to edify them. We are taking care of his sheep, not ours. I've seen ministries where the pastors acted as if the sheep were given to him instead of him being given to the sheep. Our work is to edify, to guard, to protect, to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. Paul was a gift to the church, to edify, to teach, to lead by example. Be that same thing for your people, you are a gift to your church. Keep in mind you are there for them and you need the prayers of those people you minister to. You need them as much as they need you. Paul was humble enough to ask his people to pray for him, and this isn't the only instance of him requesting prayer, but we see it throughout his epistles. Requesting prayer from those under your care takes a hit to your pride, in a way it is telling your people that you get weak from time to time. That your office and God's calling on your life isn't enough alone but you desire those callings and office to be coupled with the prayers of the ones you have been sent to minister to. What a blessing it is to the preacher who has a congregation who cares enough about the pastor to earnestly pray for him. Secondly, we will address the congregates. This request of prayer ought to be a prod to pray for your pastor. You should be grateful that God would care enough about you to send you a pastor. He is God's gift to you and your family. He carries burdens placed on him by the Lord for your sake, and when he is done carrying that burden, there is another waiting for him. He carries spiritual burdens no one sees, he carries physical burdens that only he feels the weight of, and then he endeavors to preach to, protect, and prosper your family. He labors in the word and in prayer, and the use of the word labor was intentional because it is labor. That fifty-minute sermon you yawned through and ignored cost him hours of study and persevering prayer, all with a sense of incapability. That decision he made that you questioned and even slandered him for was prayed over and at times wept over seeking the will of the Lord, not yours. A pastor is a gift, and gifts that aren't appreciated are soon lost. Consider for a moment what all the Lord has invested in you, by giving you a pastor. He took a man from his life, his work, and poured into him burdens and callings and gifts all this for your edification, for your building up. That man left being poured into to pour into you, this was not for his benefit, or God's but yours. The absolute least you can do is pray for that man, that God would give him boldness to preach what is right, not was is popular. To pray for him earnestly, ask God for a burden that would drive you to prayer more often on his behalf. Prayer is the least you can do and at the same time the most you can do. Petition God on his behalf that he would open his mouth wide, that he would remain free from error, that he would be hard when it is needed and soft when it is needed, that utterance might be given. Paul's being an "Ambassador in bonds" was directly linked to his ministry to them, as he said in chapter 3 verse 1 "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles." The burden Paul is feeling is directly linked to his ministry to these people and your pastor's burdens are directly linked to his ministry to you. He is burdened for you, he studies for you, he prays for you. So, at least, pray for him, lift up his hands as did Aaron for Moses, fight for him like Joshua for Moses. You need him as much as he needs you. Your prayers should be as Paul requested, "That therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Pray for God to use him to speak as he ought to speak. If you have seen some error in your pastor's personality, then pray for him. If you have seen some error in his teaching pray for him that he ought to speak as he ought. Sadly, God is left completely out of our conversations concerning our pastors, we save those conversations for the gossips and instead of asking God to help him we accuse him to the brethren and in doing so we have become more like the accuser of the brethren than a loving brother. Praying for your ministers will lead to their edifying and in turn, you will be edified. ...that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Onward Christian Soldiers!!