In this closing section of Paul's letter to the Ephesians he finally speaks a personal request. He asks that they pray for him. Paul has spent this letter reminding the Ephesian Christians of their place in Christ as adopted children of God; of those who had been far, but brought near; of Paul's own concern for them and his prayers for them; encouraging them to live according to their new life in Christ; urging them to line up for battle with one another equipped with the armor God provides. He has used the words of this letter for the benefit of the Ephesians, which is why this request for them to pray for him catches my attention.
Paul asks them to pray that every time he opens his mouth, he will boldly and fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now we know after studying Acts and Ephesians, that Paul did not need help knowing the right words to say to preach the gospel. We know that he does not need more courage to proclaim the gospel in spite of hardships, he has been actively doing so for the entirety of his ministry. The words that catch my eye are "every time I open my mouth." Paul was asking for them to pray that his proclamation of the gospel would be continuous, an outpouring of the Grace of God with every breath.
In the service this week we heard a story about some missionaries in Aguascalientes, Mexico. They had the privilege of connecting with a woman and her family by simply caring for them, and celebrating a birthday. This family had heard words proclaiming the facts of the gospel, but had never seen someone live out the Grace and Love that come with the message. Because these missionaries chose to not only use words to share the gospel, but their very lives, this family left a destructive lifestyle and came into the Love of Christ themselves.
It is this kind of continuous living proclamation of the gospel that I believe Paul was asking the Ephesians to pray over his ministry. It is the kind of fearless proclamation we need to pray for each other; that we would be so filled with Christ, that the gospel would flow out in every breath, every action. Every time we encounter people in our family, at work, in the marketplace, we would proclaim Christ with our actions and our words. Every time we interact with those in the body of Christ--encouraging each other, ministering to others' needs, caring for the joys and sorrows of life--every time we minister to one another we pour out the message of the gospel with our actions and our words. This is the "with every breath" method of sharing the gospel. It is what Paul was asking the Ephesians to pray for him, it is what we need to pray for each other. This is how we fearlessly proclaim the gospel, this is how the kingdom of God is built one life at a time.