And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Cor. 15:30-32
Dear Lord Jesus, I have no clue what kind of wild beasts Paul wrestled with in Ephesus, whether they were of the four-legged or two-legged variety, or if they were invisible Satanic emissaries. Their identity makes little difference; what is clear is that the privilege of serving you brought with great conflict.
But for Paul, all of life had become a kingdom story of living out the radical implications of the gospel of grace. Because of your resurrection, he knew he would be resurrected one Day, therefore death held no threat. Because of your resurrection, he knew all “beastliness” will be ultimately eradicated one Day, therefore, Paul gladly wrestled anything, visible or invisible, for your glory.
Lord Jesus, this moves me to pray today for friends who have taken on various “beastly” callings. I praise you for my friends who have gone to work for the International Justice Mission—for their willingness to work in the seedy, dark, complex world of human trafficking. I thank you for these servants, many of whom endanger themselves every hour. I bless you, Jesus, for the women and children they have already rescued, and I pray for thousands more. Keep them resourced, wise, and filled with the hope of the gospel.
I pray for my friends living in AIDS colonies in the mountains of Uganda and in villages in other parts of Africa. Jesus, it is so encouraging to know that the percentage of those infected with HIV has decreased in Uganda. Much of this progress has come through the care of your people: good scientists, health care personnel, politicians, and missionaries.
Bless their efforts even more. They often get weary in well doing, so bring the grace and truth of the gospel to bear in supernatural ways. Refresh them with your grace. Renew their heart affections for you. Keep their relationships oiled with the Holy Spirit, as sometimes it gets very hard to love one another in such demanding and draining circumstances.
Likewise, I pray for women and men planting churches in “hard soil” areas, where great darkness offers intense resistance to the in-breaking of your grace and kingdom; for missionaries laboring in regions where persecution is daily, supplies are dwindling and fellowship with other Christians is rare; for pastors in the middle of church splits and splants, other ways Christians behave so badly; for counselors who willingly wade into the region of broken psyches, a plethora of addictions, demonic oppression and personality disorders. Give them supernatural help and daily mercies.
Jesus, don’t let us sin against our friends by failing to pray for them. We don’t understand all the mysteries of prayer; we just know you have taught us to pray. Shut the mouths of the beasts by the power of the gospel, for the glory and honor. Oh, how we long for the Day of resurrection. So very Amen we pray, with great hope and anticipation, in Jesus’ name.