Striving in Prayer
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.
Earlier this month I watched on television as the University of North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA Basketball championship. The Tar Heels dominated their opponents on their way to victory in this year’s “March Madness” (which finished in April, by the way).
During the interviews after the final game, the players talked about how hard they had worked during the last year. They were focused on one goal: winning the championship. This focus translated into countless hours of exhausting practice as they honed their skills and learned to play as a unified team. The result for UNC was a happy one: their fifth national championship in basketball.
If the Tar Heel athletes were speaking ancient Greek, they might have used a verb to describe their efforts that Paul uses in Romans 15:30 to talk about how the Romans can share in his ministry. He urges them to “join in my struggle by praying to God for me.” The Greek verb translated as “join in my struggle” came from the realm of athletics. It described the activity of an athletic team as it gave its all for victory. Most of the Roman Christians would never actually go with Paul on his missionary trips, but they could become his partners in striving through their prayers.
You and I have been called into the ministry of Christ wherever we are. Part of this ministry includes the privilege of teaming up with God’s people who are on the front lines of his mission throughout the world. We may never travel to South Africa or China or India or Moscow or Tijuana, but we can strive in prayer for those who serve in these hot spots of the kingdom. When we remember our goal—that the world might know Christ and be transformed by him—we find the strength to “join in the struggle” of prayer.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you ever experience prayer as something like an athletic effort? When? Are you regularly interceding for your partners in Christ’s mission?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I thank you for calling me into your mission. I am privileged to serve you each day right where I am. But you have also challenged me to pray for my mission partners who serve both nearby and far away.
And so I do pray today. First, I pray for those who serve in my church. . . .
[Note: I’d encourage you to pray for the leaders of your church and for your partners in mission. What follows is my example.]
I pray for the elders in this time of pastoral transition, for Ryan and Christi in their work with the youth, for Phil and Derek as they lead worship, and for all who serve you in the work of St. Mark Presbyterian Church.
I think also of my partners in your mission throughout the world. Today I remember especially those who serve in southern Africa. I pray for the Siakis as they minister in South Africa, for Thembe and Buhle Bhembe and their work among the poor in Soweto, and for Pastor Solomon and the New Life International School in Swaziland. Give these folks strength, safety, wisdom, and power.
Help me, Lord, to be more faithful in striving alongside others in prayer. Amen.