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An open door for the word in Canterbury

by on July 29, 2010

…pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:3)

This request jumped out at me as I read Colossians this morning. What a strange prayer point! Why does Paul need an ‘open door’ before he can proclaim the gospel? Can’t he just tell everyone around him? He’s in prison, but can’t his mates letterbox-drop the city (probably Ephesus)? Are they really sitting there, waiting for the right occasion to evangelise, instead of getting to it? Isn’t it always the right time to share the gospel? Why can’t Paul open the door himself, and get on with it?

Well, apparently it’s not that simple. It seems Paul and co. are there, not just waiting but praying and working, for the right occasion to speak the gospel in the city. It seems the letter-box dropping approach was not their modus operandi. Not every occasion was the right occasion for gospel proclamation. Paul doesn’t  feel satisfied with just chatting to the gaol-keeper, trying to ‘bring the conversation around’. Paul is praying, and asking the Colossians to pray, for an opening – a God-given opportunity to get a real hearing from people in that city. I did a little research. Turns out that’s what Paul was always looking for (check out 1 and 2 Corinthians): an open door.

You’d think he’d be praying that God would give him an open door out of prison, so he could get on with the mission. But an open prison door alone will not enable Paul to preach. It’s not the main issue here. His chains are not his biggest limitation. This other sort of closed door is the real problem.

And Paul can’t open this door himself – only God can. Only God’s Spirit can create the opportunity Paul needs to declare Christ. Only through prayer will the space be made for the gospel to get a hearing in Ephesus. This is clearly a significant part of Paul’s mission strategy: looking for the God-given opening.

I’ve never taken that approach to mission: the pray-for-open-door-to-enable-proclamation approach. I’ve always just pushed ahead with evangelism. But imagine if we found an open door for effective mission in Canterbury. I think I can almost imagine it! I think we’ll be giving  pfodtep a try…

What do you think?

From → General

One Comment
  1. Susannah permalink

    I think yes! Consider it prayed.

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