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Calling Out Fear by Prayer

Today’s devotion punched me in the gut. Twice as much of a wake up call as the two times our oldest woke us before Christmas sunrise. I realized today how fear of my “prison” convinced me into inaction and potential sin.

First, the verse:

Also pray for me--that when I speak, God will give me words so that I can tell the secret truth about the Good News without fear. I have the work of speaking for that Good News, and that is what I am doing now, here in prison. Pray that when I tell people the Good News, I will speak without fear as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20- ERV)

Please pray for me. My pains are often surprisingly similar to being imprisoned. They limit and prevent and through them I suffer and watch others collect wounds as well. There’s no doubt this prison and Paul’s prison share those similarities. The difference is the Holy Spirit showed Paul what to do: pray.

Pray. The idea is surprisingly alien when the bars feel so real. I can feel the physical pain of my prison as clearly as the breath through my nose—or lack there of. Can I get a Wheres the Kleenex amen?

Focus, Tim. See how pain distracts. It doesn’t say pray that your head cold goes away; pain says I have to do this… or, lash out at others.

I guess I should go back and edit my first paragraph and the part about “potential” sin. I won’t, because the point I’m realizing is my lack of prayer contributed to the Me-warpath I had to repent of later.

Don’t be me. Paul starts his section with “Pray.”

He says to pray for others, but you may not be jerked out of your prison until this:

Pray… I will speak without fear as I should. [v20]

This punched me in the gut. Fear was reason I had not spoken as I should, to my wife and to my plans for work. Fear without prayer is playing with fire. Maybe that’s why Proverbs 1 says Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, because we can’t find wisdom until we align our fear with beholding God.

Fear is always meant to be a God thing. We don’t need miracles like finding a baseball signed by the Cleveland Indians in a box on Christmas Eve, then being able to slip it in your son’s stocking like some kind of Miracle on Green Hills Drive, the movie. God did do that, but He also works even more powerfully through His Word and faith that it works as He says.

What it says here is we should pray. Pray for others you see in prisons. Pray for yourself in yours. The Man of Sorrows saw His prison, yet still did the work God sent Him to do, and he saw it with joy in the fruit to come. That was how He escaped His prison’s fear-scalding bars. Jesus had Faith that God would help make Him and His servants as effective as He intended.

Go and do likewise. Take time to pray before you work around the bars. Let God’s perfect love cast out your fear as it was designed to do, through prayer and His Holy Spirit.

As Paul wrote earlier,

In love he predestined us … according to the purpose of his will… (Ephesians 1:4-5 - ESV)

Our prison is within God’s predestined awareness. So is His love, and a purpose to His will. Pray that you will follow that will of God in full remembrance of your blessings in Christ and abounding, heavenly love. They will break you free from your prison so you too can “tell the secret truth about the Good News without fear” [6:19]. We know the secret. It is true. The Gospel of Jesus is Good News where we are, where we suffer, and where we work.

Paul’s prison must have been so humbling. Arguably our greatest apostle was also a man “untimely born.” Did he ever have sinful reactions to the prison God allowed—the thorn that exposed perfect power because it forced him to rely on Jesus?

Have we? Most likely. But we don’t have to keep on that way. We can pray. Jesus says come boldly to His throne of grace. He will give you mercy and grace in exact measurement to meet you in your time of need.

His truth resounds with Good News everywhere I go and as I remain. Even leaving this text only to land in Haggai 2:

“Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” [v4-5 ESV]

Fear not, prison dwellers. His love, power and promises abound in your midst.

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