"Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience,
desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.
And I urge you all the more to do this,
so I might be restored to you the sooner."
There's nothing worse than having a bad conscience. The only way to get rid of it is to confess it, ask for forgiveness, or in the worse case scenario, have it seared. Nope. Don't want to go to that last one, for that is the sin against the Holy Spirit. That is when one has slammed the door in the face of God and locked it up tight and thrown away the key. How much more we desire to conduct ourselves with a good conscience and behave honorably in all things. It is like being a horse that knows how to guide itself home without having to be spurred as it picks up its pace knowing there is a reward coming just waiting for him over yonder.
Yet, the apostle who has followed Christ through trials and tribulation, still asks for prayer. He doesn't want to stumble and fall before reaching the finish line. The tempter is like the pesky fly that doesn't give up after being swatted away time and again: the enemy of our soul keeps trying to stain our good conscience. It could be that the disciple who wrote this epistle, probably Paul himself, knows he will most likely be facing a painful death and will be martyred for his faith. Thus, he is desiring prayers to be honorable until the end, in spite of the torture. He would prefer to have their prayers to be restored to them instead of having to write letters, to be freed from his prison, but nevertheless, he most desires to keep a clean conscience no matter what.
Actually, Paul had his desires fulfilled being taken as far as Rome to spread the Gospel, though he was in chains. He just didn't want to stay there, but longed to return to those he loved, those Hebrew Christians in the Diaspora. But Nero had another idea and tortured him to death for his diabolic pleasure. Did he fiddle while Paul died? How those recipients of his letter must have treasured this letter especially when they learned of how he died.
When our Robin was two or three she prayed, "Help grandma to have a baby." Did God answer prayer? It was prayed in trust and simplicity of a little child. But God heard and saw beyond the thrust of that prayer and answered it as He saw fit: he gave us another baby--not my mother--our Laura. Needless to say, my mother was greatly relieved that it wasn't her who was granted that privilege.
Hmm. They had prayed for him, yet he was killed. Did God answer their prayers? It did not appear so on the surface unless we see that Paul asked for prayers for his good conscience and honorable conduct. He was restored to them by letter only and by the example of his life. That is what has endured beyond his lifetime up until now as we too peruse his letter.
Adam Clarke writes, "Even the success of the apostles depended in a certain way, on the prayers of the Church. Few Christian congregations feel, as they ought, that it is their bounden duty to pray for the success of the Gospel, both among themselves and in the world. The Church is weak, dark, poor, and imperfect because it prays little." Perhaps we could say that those in the church little comprehend how much their leaders need their prayers.
He goes on, "'We trust we have a good conscience.' We are persuaded that we have a conscience that not only acquits us of all fraud and sinister design, but assures us that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have labored to promote the welfare of you and of all mankind. 'To live honestly.' Willing in all things to conduct ourselves well--to behave with decency and propriety...That is, pray for us, that, being enabled to complete the work which God has given us here to do, we may be the sooner enabled to visit you." Perhaps this should be the litmus test for all ministers of the Gospel.
Thus, Andrew Murray writes, "Let us pray much for God's servants and all His saints; and let us be sure that nowhere may greater wonders be wrought by faith, than as it deals with God in prayer."