Sunday Devotional: Ephesians 6:19-20
19 And [pray] on behalf of me, that a word may be given to me when [I] open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 on behalf of which I am an ambassador in chains, so that in it I may speak freely as it is necessary for me to speak.
Paul is closing out his letter to the church in Ephesus. He is under house arrest, possibly in Rome, and he’s making some closing requests, particularly with regard to what the church should be praying for. What’s notable about these verses is the fact that Paul draws attention to his own situation, and asks prayer for himself. That he prays for himself is, perhaps, not that remarkable, but what he prays for should catch our attention.
Bear in mind, if Paul is imprisoned in Rome at this time, then his ministry is winding down, and he faces the prospect of an audience with high officials within the Roman Empire–even with Caesar himself. The weight of the occasion was not lost on him. This would be no impromptu sermon on Mars Hill, or late night discussion in someone’s house: this might be his most important (in earthly terms) audience, and maybe his last opportunity to preach the gospel before passing from this life.
What does Paul, the great preacher and theologian of the primitive church ask prayer for? A message. The right words to say. And not only that, but boldness. When we readThe Acts of the Apostles, Paul is not someone who comes across as shy. He seems more than willing to speak of Christ with whomever the Lord sends his way. Yet here Paul acknowledges his need for courage to say what he needs to say, and to say those things freely–without any concern for his own safety, or for the feelings of those listening.
How often have we been in situations when an opportunity to share the gospel arises, and out of fear, either for our own reputation, or of offending someone, we let it pass? Probably more often than we want to admit. It’s of some comfort, I think, to know that from time to time, the great Apostle Paul experienced the same anxiety. Like Paul, we need to pray for our witnessing efforts, that we would never be afraid to preach the good news of Christ to anyone who gives us an audience. And that our proclamation may be bold, focusing on the glory of God above all things, even our pride, and what those listening might think of us.
Have a great week!