An Admonition Regarding the Church’s “Prayer Vigilance”

 

In the letters Paul wrote to the church or to individuals, his prayers are always recorded. That’s because praying is the life line to his connection with God. Although the Roman church was not personally established by Paul, he frequently interceded and gave thanks on their behalf (Romans 1:8). At the conclusion of the Epistles to the Romans, Paul urged the brothers and sisters to join him in fervent prayer to God.

 

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Romans 15:30)

 

There are two possible meanings to the sentence Paul used when he directed the church to pray for him by the Son and the Holy Spirit: 1) When Paul, by the instruction of Jesus Christ (He is the mediator and High Priest for man in heaven), and by the love of the Holy Spirit (The Spirit that bestows blessings and facilitates petitions for people on earth), urged believers to pray for each other, it signifies that both the Son and the Holy Spirit encourage believers to pray to the Heavenly Father. 2) When Paul admonished the church to pray, it was by Jesus Christ who is the mediator and High Priest in heaven, and by the love of the Holy Spirit that they would pray for each other. That meant that believers pray to the Heavenly Father through the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whichever explanation is taken, they both remind believers to pray and intercede for one another.

 

Paul wished that the brothers and sisters would join him in his struggle by praying to God for him. In fact, praying is a form of struggle. This brings to mind the time Jacob wrestled with God at the fork of the Jabbok. But Paul did not mean that we should wrestle with God through prayer. He just wanted us to understand through this that prayer is a struggle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). Although Paul did not specifically point out here what difficulties he was confronting, yet he hoped that the brothers and sisters would join him in fervent prayer. Praying is a spiritual battle and a test of wills. It requires that we be willing to spend the time, determine to get involved, and submit heart, soul, will and strength to complete the holy task.

 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood…” (1 Peter 2:9) Dear brothers and sisters, we have been slacking in our holy duty of prayer and intercession as priests. This can be seen from the attendance at the church’s Wednesday evening prayer meetings. Although this writer had often reminded everyone to focus on praying, and Brother Peter Liu had given us many instructions on praying during this year’s summer conference, yet throughout the summer holidays, we have had less than 20 members attend the prayer vigilance each Wednesday at the church. This writer knows that many of the brothers and sisters who have service positions are not ignorant of the importance of prayer and keeping watch for the church. Yet when it comes to attending the church’s prayer meetings, they use hundreds of reasons and thousands of excuses to evade and rationalize. We should not delude ourselves by saying, “until I have the time…until I have energy…until my spirituality is improved…until my child is older…until I have finished this task…until I…” Before we have relied on the Lord through prayer to struggle with Satan, we must first cast off the sloth and self-delusion of our own flesh. This writer laments that when many members find themselves in hardship, they will ask the church to pray for them. Yet they themselves will not strive to attend Wednesday’s prayer meetings, and learn to pray and keep watch for the church in the Lord, in unity of mind and spirit with other members. How can this be the attitude we, in the love of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, should have?

 

By: Daniel To