Paul ends this section of his letter to the Romans by asking for prayer: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.” (15:30-32)
Paul invites the Romans, whom he has yet to meet, to pray with him and for him, and he is specific in his request. I like that Paul asks for prayer. He could easily have written, “I’ll pray for you,” but he didn’t. Rather, he writes, “....join me in earnest prayer to God and on my behalf.” Paul wants the Romans to know that he needs their prayers, that they can be part of his ministry to Christ simply by praying, and that praying together with him strengthens their unity in the body of Christ.
Sometimes I wonder why more of us don’t ask for prayer, even within our church family. We have, for example, a Prayer Chain accessible via telephone, e-mail, or our web site, but requests are few and far between. There is a “prayer tin” for prayer requests in the narthex, but most Sundays it remains empty. We even have healing prayer available on Sunday mornings, yet less than 10 people have come forward in the last 6 months. I do believe we understand the beauty and the significance of praying, of speaking to God and knowing He hears us. But I wonder if we appreciate the significance, and the power of praying together, of uniting our voices, of reaching up together in faith and trust and love to our Heavenly Father. Paul did, and so he often asked for prayer.
Heavenly Father, may we strengthen our unity within the Body of Christ by praying together. May we never allow timidity or pride or fear or desperation to keep us from asking for prayer. May we always pray for and with each other. Amen.