How often do we need to pray and ensure that we mention those for whom we determine to pray? How long is our prayer list, and how up to date do we try to keep it? How can we set aside the necessary time for prayer in our modern world? All these questions are vital for Christian testimony. There are differing ways of seeking out in Scripture those who prayed, and the example of Paul is one that we would do well to follow.
We note some of those for whom Paul prayed. He stated that "without ceasing" (v.9) he always, that is unceasingly, mentioned the saints in Rome. We learn here that repetition in prayer for an assembly is valued. He prayed that he would be able to meet the believers in Rome and be encouraged by them. When writing these verses he was in Corinth lodging in the house of Gaius (16.23).
To the Corinthians he wrote from Ephesus (1 Cor 16.8). He sought to remain in Ephesus because "a great door and effectual" was opened, but there were many who were opposed. But Paul sought Timothy to go to Corinth with the first epistle. When he met with the Ephesians elders (Acts 20.17-38) he preached to them and he kneeled and prayed with them. Their sorrow was that they would not meet them again. Here was an assembly that was to see "grievous wolves" and men of their own selves who would seek to create unfaithful groups despite the three years of Paul's teaching.
Those in Colosse were instructed to "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Col 4.2) which was followed by, "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ" (4.3). The word "Withal" has the thought of "At the same time". The Colossians were to pray for Paul that God would open "a door of utterance".
Another group, this time in Philippi, also engaged in prayer. The saints there were praying for Paul's deliverance. Note what he states: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil 4.6).
In the first letter to the Thessalonians we read that Paul was always "making mention of you in our prayers" (1 Thess 1.2). This teaches us again that our prayers are not only for those who are near to us or family members, but that we also ought to have an interest in those who are not near us. In the same letter to the Thessalonians the small statement, "Pray without ceasing" (5.17), is memorable. Paul, however, when writing in the second letter to the Thessalonians also draws their attention to the fact that he, Silvanus and Timotheus make mention of the Thessalonians in their prayers (1.4),
Peter also engaged in prayer. In his first letter (1 Pet 4.7) he encourages his readers to watch, that is to remain awake, when in prayer, an exhortation we all need. Peter encourages the domestic side of a Christian home. It should be noted, however, that he states, "But the end of all things is at hand". It must be kept in mind that 4.7 refers to the "end of all things" which will take place after the Rapture.
He who was the greatest in prayer was the Lord Jesus. When He was facing the cross we read, "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder" (Mt 26.36). Looking toward the cross and prior to the pain of Calvary, He goes to pray alone.
What we see in Scripture are some of the areas where the gospel was being preached and souls were being saved. Some of the places were difficult to engage, just as they are, increasingly, today. Let us seek to bring the Word of God closely to us, remembering that "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5.16).