Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pray!

Ephesians 6:19-20 (New International Version)
19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The man who wrote these words was Paul the apostle--known as Saul, of Tarsus before his dramatic conversion--a brilliant and educated man. He first appears at the very end of the seventh chapter of Acts--a party to the stoning death of the first martyr, Stephen--and his life was an adventure from beginning to end.

The Life Application Bible, in its profile of Paul says:
God did not waste any part of Paul--his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses.

And yet, this man who had everything, counted it all as nothing--except to give it all to God. He refused to use his brilliant mind to persuade people of the truth of the gospel, although God flowed through his intellect and used it.

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 he states that he "would not come with eloquence or superiour wisdom" but would only preach the message of the cross, "Christ crucified," recognizing that it would be foolishness to many. This was so that his listener's faith, "might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."

Paul did not dare to rely on anything but God, and in his writings he repeatedly asks for the prayers of others so that he might be given the words to speak, and the boldness to speak them.

How, is something of a mystery, but God hears and answers prayer--my journals and our cell group prayer journal bear testimony to that. It is probably one of the most important things we could do.

I'm continuing to read and enjoy, Prayer--Does it Make any Difference?--by Philip Yancey. The book probes and explores the question posed in the title in ways that would never have occurred to me. It's an honest and thoughtful book. Reading the book, and more importantly, reading the words written by the apostle Paul, there is no doubt, prayer makes all the difference in the world.

2 Corinthians 1:9-11 (New International Version)
9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.


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