The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Prayers From Prison"
The Apostle Paul's letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon often fall under the category of the "prison epistles." Written during times of Paul's incarceration by the Roman government for preaching the Gospel, the letters contain a particularly interesting feature.
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding… For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9; Philemon 1:4-5).
Many volumes could be written on the theme of Paul's "prayers from prison." Wonderful light shines forth regarding how and what every believer should pray. God's glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ provide primary emphasis, which then proceeds to the response of believers to God's working in our hearts and lives. Paul pays little attention to outward matters of circumstance, condition, and situation. Certainly, this does not mean he did not pray about such things, or that we should not. However, true and effectual prayer involves emphasis, even as the Lord Jesus Christ revealed, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Our primary focus in prayer must be directed toward matters of the heart, namely, God's heart and the response of our heart to Him. Prisons, be they literal or figurative, often help us to realize what truly matters, and what we should most emphasize in both life and prayer. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
Along with content, Paul's prison prayers offer insight regarding context. The Apostle viewed his confinement as an altar of intercession for the glory of God and the blessing of others. We must do the same. Of course, most of us will likely never be incarcerated for our faith. Figuratively, however, we all have "prisons" that hinder us from doing things we would like to do. The matters may involve minor hindrances, or major and very difficult obstacles that seem to bar normalcy of life. Whatever the case, like Paul, our prisons offer opportunities for prayer that otherwise would not exist. "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation" (II Corinthians 1:6).
I heard such an offering last night during a phone call from a dear sister in Christ who currently resides in a local rehab facility, recovering from a serious injury suffered during a fall, along with many other challenges. We prayed as we concluded our call, which brought tears to my eyes as a greatly challenged saint of God sought His grace not for herself, but for others. I have heard her offer many such intercessions, and have seen answers. What else would we expect when a hurting, but trusting heart looks to God with prayers from prison?
Again, we all have venues of seeming confinement that actually provide a liberty we may not find in any other circumstance or condition. Indeed, what prayers can be prayed from prison that would otherwise never soar to the throne of grace? Paul's letters to Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Philemon reveal an altar our brother of old built in a seemingly inopportune place that became a tributary of grace as prayers from prison led to answers from Heaven.
"And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends."
Weekly Memory Verse
The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.