Paul often asked Christians to pray for him (Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
It seems clear that Paul was sincere in this request. He himself was praying constantly (Romans 1:9; 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 and 14:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). The first Christians all believed that God acts powerfully because of his people's prayers (James 5:16-18).
Paul saw prayer as a kind of battle against the evil spirits that oppose God's work (Ephesians 6:12 and 6:18). We ourselves are not strong enough to defeat those evil forces (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), so we must ask God for his help. Nothing can ever defeat God's power (8:31-39). Therefore, when Christians pray with faith (belief and trust in God), God acts powerfully on their behalf (Mark 11:22-24; 1 John 5:14-15).
Paul had made clear plans for the future: to go to Jerusalem, then to Rome, then to Spain. He believed that God wanted him to go to those places. However, Paul knew that he could not succeed in any of these plans by his own efforts. The journeys were long and difficult, and many people opposed him. In addition, the devil and his evil spirits were trying to stop Paul, so that he could not do God's work. So, Paul very much needed God's help, and the proper way to request that is by prayer. That is why Paul asked the Christians to join with him in prayer (Matthew 18:19).
Next part: A place to rest (Romans 15:31-32)
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© 2018, Keith Simons.