Scripture Prayer 2: for bold proclamation
Spiritual leaders should always be on the hot seat of cultural influence. Speaking and serving to please God should naturally juxtapose them with world systems. In these super-charged times, however, with the boundaries of life in constant motion and the colors of morality fading to so many shades of gray, many spiritual leaders seek safe ground in the middle of these contests. When friends and those entrusted to my spiritual leadership asked me how they could pray for me, I would usually take them to Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul's request for prayer. Like him, I asked that those in my circle of influence would pray for me to be bold in my ministry. Paul wrote---
and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to
proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I
may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
These verses strategically followed Paul's profound dissertation on the whole armor of God. That entire Scripture section reminds us of the spiritual warfare to which we have been commissioned to serve. Several important truths lay the foundation for the boldness that is required of our leadership---
1. This warfare is cosmic in nature.
It takes place in the heavenly places and is clearly identified with the schemes
of the evil one, in Paul's estimation, the devil himself. This contest cannot be
waged within human limits. His leaders must attain a higher standard if they
are to enter this level of warfare.
2. There is a note of victory in the overview of this warfare.
Three mentions of standing indicate how the armor of God prepares us for
wrestling with this enemy: able to stand when we see it coming (v. 11); to
withstand the evil as it comes (v. 13); and, be standing when the immediate
warfare is ended (v.14). God's people are equipped for conquest in this war.
3. Prayer is the backdrop of spiritual leadership at all times.
Praying at all times with all prayer and supplication (v. 18) is the norm for every
person engaged in this spiritual warfare.
4. There are specific prayer requests for boldness.
In fact, Paul asks the prayer for boldness twice. He knew the danger, threats,
and force of the opposition and wanted the Ephesian people to pray that his
voice would be bold.
5. Boldness is the expectation of spiritual leaders.
Paul's final word in this section indicated his belief that boldness was what God
expected of those entrusted with spiritual leadership. He wrote, "...that I may
declare it boldly, as I ought to speak" (v. 20).
There are a couple of realistic angles on this prayer for boldness. One involves the times and the threat of government intervention in the affairs of the church. Several recent judicial decisions involving marriage, sexual orientation, and other liberal agendas place the church and her leaders in the cross-hairs of government agencies. The Johnson Amendment, which threatens loss of tax exempt status for churches violating endorsement of political candidates prohibitions, is under examination as a tool against churches that discriminate against the broad sexual definitions of a liberal court. So, the prayer for boldness in our spiritual leaders is one of great import. The other day I read a challenging quote regarding our pulpit ministry today. Leonard Ravenhill wrote, "If Jesus preached the same messages minister's preach today, he would not have been crucified". Ouch.
At the same time, the internal mechanisms of church life, navigating the times, and leading the inner life of the church severely limits the inter-action of spiritual leaders with unbelievers outside the body of faith. The prayer for boldness could include asking God to release the spiritual leaders from the internal demands of church life so they can relate the gospel to those apart from Christ.
Once again, I would never give you a verbatim for prayer. But, praying for the boldness of your spiritual leaders is a thoroughly biblical concept, one requested by the Apostle Paul on several occasions. Ask God to give the leaders in your life the freedom of their calling, that is, to speak truth in a world that doesn't want to hear it, and to give them the occasion to speak boldly beyond the walls of the church.
Tell your pastor and other spiritual leaders that you prayed Ephesians 6:19-20 for them. They'll be encouraged and strengthened to know that you prayed for their boldness.
And, the world will be different because of it.