Striving Together In Prayer For Spiritual Leaders
"Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints" (Rom. 15:30-31).
This plea from the Apostle Paul reveals how essential it is that we pray for spiritual leaders. Notice the weight in his plea. He does not just casually ask them, but he "beseeches" them. They are his "brethren," and he is calling upon them and depending upon them as his brothers and sisters in Christ. And this is not just about Paul, but this has to do with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – "for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit." What stronger foundation could there be for the request Paul is making?
And notice the weight of the plea. Paul urges them, "…that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me…." The phrase "strive together with" comes from a word which "denotes intense agony or effort, such as was used by the wrestlers in the Greek games; and then the agony, or strong effort, which a man makes in prayer, who is earnestly desirous to be heard" (Barnes). It has the idea of expending all of one’s energy to reach a significant goal. It can also be translated in terms such as "make every effort," "fight," "compete," "struggle," "wrestle." A form of the word is used of Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane: "And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground" (Luke 22:44). The word is also used of Epaphras who was "always labouring fervently" in prayer (Col. 4:12).
In other words, Paul is urging them to enter into this struggle with him and to pour themselves intensely into their prayers to God for him. He knew the challenges of his ministry were far beyond the limits of his own resources. He needed God’s protection and deliverance from his enemies, and he needed God’s power and favor for his ministry to the saints.
This strong appeal by the Apostle Paul serves as a call for us to strive together with spiritual leaders in our day in our prayers to God for them. Pastors, missionaries and other church leaders face great challenges, obstacles and enemies, and our prayers for leaders are vital to their well-being and to the effectiveness of their ministries.
Wesley Duewel, an advisory board member of Herald of His Coming, tells of the battle he and others faced during his first years as a missionary in India. They were working in a very spiritually resistant area and for many years were not getting the mighty results he had hoped for. During some traveling in the U.S., he sensed the Lord directing him to ask 1,000 people to pray for 15 minutes every day for the missionary outreach in India. "We had those people praying, and that year God gave us 1,500 new converts. There were two and three churches being founded a year, and then five, and over time we saw an average of 25 churches planted each year. It took that massive effort in prayer to jump start the breakthrough for God in that harvest."
We just received in the Herald office a letter from Brother Duewel in which he shared a poem he penned this past June on his 98th birthday. In a portion of the poem he writes about the harvest of his missionary work in India:
…Today the church I helped begin –
Can count a million saved from sin.
I can’t go now, but I can pray
As I in love do every day.
A million now serve Jesus there
Because God hears and answers prayer.
Please join me in this pray’r today.
Share in the harvest while you may….
What a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness to work through prayer, and what a wonderful call to us today to join in prayer for God’s harvest in these last days!
As you strive in prayer for pastors, missionaries and other leaders, we hope you will seek the Lord on behalf of the staff and ministry of Herald of His Coming, including the editors and co-workers involved in the various language editions of Herald of His Coming. If you are not already doing so, perhaps you would be willing to pray daily for the Herald ministry and workers. If so, please feel welcome to write to the Herald office for prayer guides to help you in your prayers. You can also pray through the list of editions and offices listed on the bottom of this page. As we have mentioned previously, some of the Herald International workers are in places with much opposition to the Gospel, and are in need of the Lord’s ongoing protection. And all of them are in need of prayer for the Lord’s strength, encouragement, wisdom, anointing and provision. Your prayers are vital as you strive together with them.