Summary: Paul often asked the churches to pray for him... but why? The key is found in Romans 15. Find out about the power that we often overlook.
OPEN: In the backwoods of Kentucky there was a family of wayward “church members.”
One day while brothers Jim, John, and Sam were out in the woods, a large rattlesnake bit Sam and he became violently ill. The doctor was summoned and did what he could, but he told the family that he believed they would need divine help too, if Sam were to recover. So the preacher and the elders of the church were sent for and they came rushing to Sam’s bedside.
The preacher was asked to pray and did so as follows:
“Oh, wise and righteous Father, we thank Thee that in Thy wisdom Thou has sent this rattlesnake to bite Sam, in order to bring him to his senses.
He has not been in the church house now for years, and it is doubtful that he has (in all these years, until now) felt the need for prayer. It seems, therefore, that what our combined efforts could not do, this rattlesnake has done.
We trust, O Father, that Thou wilt send another to bite John and Jim, and a big one to bite their father, for we conclude the only thing that will help this family is rattlesnakes.
So send us, we pray Thee, 3 bigger and better rattlesnakes.”
APPLY: Now, there is a preacher I can appreciate. Not only did he firmly believe in the need for Sam and his family to come to Christ… BUT he ALSO believed in the power of prayer to get it done.
His prayer reflected a belief that God WOULD act in response to his prayers
I. That’s what Paul believed too
Paul told the Christians in Colossi to “pray … that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
To the Ephesians Paul wrote “Pray… that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
To the church in Thessalonica, he wrote: “…pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
And he said something even more dramatic to the church in Rome: “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)
Paul was a man who believed that prayer had power to change the hearts of men.
He believed that prayer would strengthen him and give him inspiration when he needed it most
AND (I find this part exciting) Paul believed that through our prayers we can literally join with preachers and youth ministers and missionaries to make them more successful and more effective in bringing lost souls to Christ.
ILLUS: One of the most frustrating things for me (as a Christian) is the fact that here are so many good missions and ministries out there that deserve financial support.
BUT I just don’t have enough money to support them all. That frustrates me.
Does that ever frustrate you???
I want missionaries and other ministries to succeed.
I want them to reach more and more people for Christ.
But I can’t possibly help them ALL financially
And occasionally, that puts me on a real guilt trip.
But what Paul is telling us here is this:
As important as money is to keeping missionaries on the field, and supplying for their ministries,
and keeping food on their tables and clothes on their children….
As important as money is there is a more important thing you can do for them
More important than your money are your prayers for those missionaries,
Your prayers for those ministries
Your prayers that God would empower them to spread the message of Christ to every corner of influence that they have.
Because, in that single, simple act you have literally joined them in their struggle.
You may not be able to support every ministry financially as much as you’d like
… BUT you CAN pray for them
II. And what Paul is telling us is that our prayers are even more important than our money
Now… why is that?
Why would our prayers be even more important than our financial support?
Because money can’t save people.
Money can’t make people believe in Jesus
Money can’t bring people to their knees in repentance
Money can’t convince people that they should confess Jesus as their Lord
Money can’t do any of those things…
But… if money can’t… what can?
It’s the power of God … it’s the hand of God… the Spirit of God… that works in people’s hearts to change their lives. AND it’s through your prayers that God exerts His power and influence