Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer
Our reading for today contains Paul’s beautiful words about anxiety and prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (v. 6). We have probably all heard a few sermons on these verses and seen them inscribed on many plaques. Paul is revealing how prayer draws us into a close relationship with God.
But right before them is a text that might feel odd to us. It seems a little out of place. Paul gets very personal and direct. He says, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel…” (v. 2-3).
Is Paul really using precious space in his brief letter to address some squabble? Is it really his business to do that? Imagine how these two ladies felt when they heard Paul’s letter being read before the whole church!
Paul sees something that, I believe, we tend to forget. He sees that our relationship with God is inseparable from our relationships with other people. What happens in one affects the other. As a general rule, when our human relationships are disordered, our experience of God will be affected.
As a husband, I often think about these words from 1 Peter: “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way…so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). In some mysterious way, treating the people around me harshly, dishonoring them with my words and actions, or—like Euodia and Syntyche—settling into a pattern of hostility, will have a catastrophic effect on my relationship with God.
Stepping Out in Lent – In this season of reflection and repentance, as we strive for a closer walk with God, let us pay attention to our human relationships. Is God calling us today to pursue reconciliation?
Author – Daniel Behrens serves as the Curate at St. Peter’s. He is a recent graduate of Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh, PA.