2 CORINTHIANS 1:8-11 – For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
THEME OF THE DAY. OUR NEED OF INTERCESSION. Prayer. Drop the word in a conversation among Christians and get ready for a lively time. There will be tons of inputs and opinions. And it won’t just be in conversations. Like a ton of inputs and opinions, a ton of books have been and are being written about prayer. Shelves in personal libraries probably contain a book or two on prayer. I know mine does. And the Bible says a lot about prayer. If we did a Bible search of three words associated with prayer – pray, prayer, intercession, we would find three hundred and forty references. That isn’t even counting the language of prayer we also find in our Bibles like “supplication, cried out”. So prayer is a big deal. It should be. God gave us prayer. It is a chief means of knowing Him; seeking Him; petitioning Him; and conducting spiritual warfare. Yet, prayer is also a mystery. We finite beings cannot reconcile an infinite sovereign God who has ordained all things and still calls us to pray for His intervention. Please, don’t try to untie that knot. You will hurt your fingers. Leave it alone. God says, “Ask and you shall receive” and He also says, “My purposes will be done.” Don’t attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. However, that isn’t the direction of today’s nugget. I want us to look at our prayer lives with two simple questions. How we answer reveals a great deal about our Biblical understanding and practice of true prayer.
First, what drives us to pray? There are probably three answers to this. All of them have merit, but there is one we need to ensure is a regular practice in our praying. First, we are driven by prayer to know God. Here is the highest priority and motive in prayer – knowing God. This will mean extended periods of time in solitude for prayer, as well, as a waiting on God in prayer. There are a lot of examples of this in the Psalms. Spend time in the Psalms to observe the models. Another reason for prayer is to seek God to intervene in the affairs of the world and our lives. We have numerous exhortations from the Lord Jesus to ask and petition the Lord. This might be the area getting our most attention in prayer – asking God for things and intervention in tough spots in life. Be careful here. Don’t let this be the chief reason for prayer. If it is, our prayer lives will become mechanical and almost like coming to God as a “Divine Vending Machine” for us to put our petition in the slot, push the button and wait for His answer. Not good. It jeopardizes the spirituality of prayer and our fellowship with the Lord. Now the third reason for prayer and one that demands a lot of our attention. It is found in today’s scripture – praying for others – you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:11). The Apostle Paul depended upon the prayers of God’s people. And when it comes to this work of intercession, our prayers should be far more about others than ourselves. In fact, study the prayers of the Bible. We will discover a noticeable absence of self-centered prayers. But there is more . . . one of the greatest displays of love for people is to pray for them. Think about it. We are bringing people to the throne room of God in our prayers. What a privilege. What a responsibility! May God help us be intercessors for one another just like our Lord Jesus is constantly doing for us.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to see one of my greatest acts of love to Your people is to constantly pray for them.”
QUOTE: “Most of the prayers in the Bible are not for or about ourselves but for the Lord’s will and His people.”