In writing about Paul’s comment in Ephesians 3:14-15, (“For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whole the whole family in heaven and earth is named”), Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones makes excellent points, as always. Below is one aspect he shared that all of us can benefit from, and my reflections on his wisdom.
First, he talks about the fact that Paul prayed. No matter what Rome did to him, no matter the deepest dungeon they cast him into, or the heaviest bonds they secure him with, nothing could stop Paul’s ability to access the throne of God in prayer. Then he makes an application for us:
“This is always applicable to us whatever our circumstances and conditions may happen to be. There are times when as Christians we seem to be in some kind of prison. We may be hemmed in and tied down, perhaps by illness or some physical weakness or by circumstances, or circumstances may prevent us from coming to the House of God or from having fellowship with others…[W]hatever circumstances or evil men do to us, there is always open to us this particular ministry and activity…[I]f you find yourself ill and confined to a sick bed, that does not mean you are useless for the time being, it does not mean that you can do nothing. You can still go on praying. You can pray for yourself; you can pray for others; you can be taking part in a great ministry of intercession.”Dr. M.L. Jones, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ.” Banner of Truth Books
As I write this there is an army division advancing in unstoppable victory. It’s the division of God’s people assigned to the front lines of suffering and frailty. They march from their homes and their hospital bed, advancing in quiet prayer. They maybe haven’t been able to step foot in church for years but they are tirelessly interceding at home for challenged pastors, discouraged missionaries, unreached people groups, and hostile nations.
Some may only be assigned to this battalion for a month or two, temporarily on “light duty” because of a broken leg or surgery recovery. Still, they join the concerted effort and do their part.
Some are permanently reassigned to these ranks in the prime of their lives. They never expected to have their days filled with doctors appointments, pain, and pills. Not for many more decades, anyway. But here they are. They don’t understand God’s plan for them now, but they are faithful and obedient.
And some of these servant-soldiers have fought for a long time. They have served well. Their bodies are weary, even brittle. Their health is failing each day. Soon they’ll be eternally young again, reinvigorated and with their Lord forever. But for now, although they can do little or no work on the outside, they live out Paul’s exhortation to, “pray without ceasing” on the inside.
Whatever their situation, IV drips or oxygen, they pray. Waiting rooms or hospital rooms, they pray.
Maybe I pushed the wartime metaphor a bit too far (although I believe eternity will show I didn’t push it far enough!). The point is: All of us, every Christian, always has a job to do in the Kingdom of God: All of us can pray! No matter whether we are young or old, healthy or sick, working hard to nail down a new roof or passing the time receiving chemotherapy, let’s never forget we can avail ourselves of this great duty and privilege.