October 17, 2021

Prayer and missions


Let’s talk about vaccination (Rom. 14:1-9)

  • It’s a matter of the freedom of conscience (not an attack on church)
  • It addresses the question of the lordship of Christ (often, this is a question of who is on the throne of our heart; if it is Christ, then the issue of vaccination is not as problematic)
  • This question reveals on what we feed our minds on (Media or Scripture?). Unfortunately, this question often reveals that we are not in the Scripture.
  • This is a clear attempt by Satan to do two things to us: 1) to destruct us from the main thing – the work of the Gospel, 2) to lead believers into conflicts.
  • This is a reminder to seek first the kingdom of God. When God is everything and all, and Christ is real and first in all, this issue looses it’s significance.
  • This is a matter of trusting God – one gets vaccinated by trusting God, another refuses vaccination by trusting God.
  • This is a subject for intense prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-4) – Prayer for the government so that we have quite lives, but the ultimate goal is the salvation of sinners and the spread of the Gospel (v. 4).

This is a kind of introduction to today’s text because it deals with prayer, personal circumstances, and the work of the Gospel.

Read (Rom. 15:30-33)

Even people who don’t go to church admit that they are praying. The question is: What is prayer, and what is it used for and is it used properly?

Three functions of prayer that every praying person needs to know in order to use prayer correctly!

I. Prayer is a walkie-talkie on the battlefield (vv. 30-31)

Quote from John Piper’s book, “Let the Nations Be Glad”: “Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.” (p. 45).

In other words, prayer is for war! It’s a communication tool on the battlefield! The battlefield is the surrounding world, and communication is with the headquarters in heaven! Where does this conclusion come from?

Paul invites the church in Rom to fight with him in prayer. (Gr. Sunagonidzomai – to be together in agony). A similar prayer is found in (Col. 4:12) – it is a kind of struggle; it is a fight!

Paul, but using such terms, points us to the well-known story when Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, or better, the Lord Himself (Gen. 32:24-32).

How does Paul involve the entire church in Rome in this struggle? The same question I asked myself – how to get GFC into prayer? Answer in the text:

A. Firm foundation (v. 30)

First – by our Lord Jesus Christ – for Christ’s sake! If you know Jesus; if He is your Savior and Lord, pray because of Him! This is a practical expression of His lordship (10:9)!

The second is the love of the Spirit. This is the love that is in us from God but directed to the Holy Spirit (5:5)!

The question is this – if now H.S. would be taken off the earth, how much of what we are doing would continue without any change? Some say that up to 95 % everything will stay the same. At the same time, there can be no real fruit without the work of the H.S.

When we come into contact with war, then our loyalty and love for leadership will surface.

You have not noticed that it is often in difficult times that the truthful or faithful people are revealed.

The motive for this is the commander-in-chief himself! If we are involved in a battle for any other reason, we will surrender sooner or later. But if the motive is the Lordship of Christ, and the love for the Holy Spirit and for your neighbor, it will not disappoint.

(John 15:16) Christ called the people to the work so that they bear fruit, YET (for the purpose) that prayer be used!

What motives you to pray? Why are you praying? Is it Christ?

B. Specific objectives (v. 31)

Paul often resorted to asking people to pray for him. (2 Cor. 1:10-11; Eph. 6:19; Phil. 1:19; Col. 4:3; 2 Thess. 3:1). Not everyone can. This can be don only by the humble people; those who depend on God. The two gals are protection and effectiveness of ministry.

We often pray for a safe road, and this should be done, but safety on a mission is much more important!

Paul often faced Jewish opposition (Acts 9:23, 298; 13:45, 50; 14:2, 5, 19; 17:5-9, 13; 18:12-17; 19:9; 20:3). And now he goes to the very center of Judaism, Jerusalem!

The success of the ministry for the saints was also hindered.

Are we able to share our needs for others to pray? This will require humility and openness.

II. Prayer is an instrument in God’s hands

Look what he is asking for: he is asking God to restrain and change the hearts of the circumstances of unbelievers, and then for God to change and direct the hearts of believers! Both of these groups are under God’s control! God rules of the hearts of people!

Paul’s two desires: 1) Unbelievers will not kill Paul, 2) Believers will accept Paul’s ministry. Prayer is meaningless unless God is able to answer! Paul was absolutely sure in that fact, so that he decided to ask the believers in Rome to pray for him, who were even further away from Jerusalem.  He understood that this instrument is not limited by the distance! And most importantly: God is able to change the hearts of unbelievers and believers! Just think how encouraging that is!

Was this prayer of Roman believers answered? Yes! Their prayer became instrumental in God’s hands to guide Paul through this segment of his ministry.

Let’s start with the simplest (asking for effective ministry). This is what happened (Acts 24:17)./.

(21:17-20) – with joy and glorifying God!

A more complex response to a security request. God kept Paul alive, but not without troubles.

When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, the Jews very soon falsely accused him and immediately began to beat him intending to kill. But they were not able to do so, because the Roman soldiers appeared in time and snatched Paul out from the hands of the Jews, and in order to save his life, they had to arrest him.

(21:30-31) – Someone’s will was disposed to run and inform the Roman soldiers, their will was disposed to come urgently, the will of the beating ones, was moved by fear of the solders to stop killing. Two years of imprisonment, and in the end, Paul was delivered from the hands of the Jews, but through serious beatings, unfair accusation, and even imprisonment.

Bottom line: Paul’s life was saved, but not the way he envisioned it! Two important conclusions: 1) Prayer is a very powerful tool that changes the will of people and circumstances, 2) This powerful tool is not in our hands, but in the hands of God, and He uses it as He pleases. But He works through the prayer of His children!  

III. Prayer is a relationship with the church (vv. 32-33)

A. Thirst for fellowship (v. 32)

“Be refreshed” – some way of rest! 

When believers are together, their souls rest! In the world, they are at war, but from time to time we need to get together to take a deep breath, be refreshed, get some rest for our souls, and get back into the fight! The church is then more like a resort where wounded or tired warriors heal their wounds!

(Acts 28:13-15) – Paul eventually made it to Rome… but as a prisoner; yet we can see that even his desire to see Roman believers was answered; he was refreshed and encouraged by them!

B. Peace with one another (v. 33)

This verse is the prayer of the apostle Paul for the church in Rome – so that they may be filled with divine peace!

Sooner or later, a person praying for others comes to an increasing peace with God and with neighbors (8:6 – peace with God; 14:19 – peace with neighbors).

If you want a good, close and constructive relationship with God and your neighbors – start praying for them (Matt. 9:37-10:1, 5)!

2 weeks ago – one way of engaging your heart with the church, is to invest in the church (your time, talents, energy, thoughts and $). Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also! Now, prayer does the same!

Questions for self-evaluation:

Have you turned your prayer walkie-talkie into a convenient telecom to improve the comforts of your life? We are on the battlefield.

How much of your prayer is for other people, especially Gospel ministries and missionaries? This is how the unity comes!

Do you have a firm conviction that God can change peoples’ hearts?

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