Monday, September 19, 2016

Powerful prayers

I'd like to take a short break from our studies of "women of the Bible" -- here's why . . .
When we studied Hannah, the mother of Samuel, I also continued reading in I Samuel, and a couple of things really moved me. One was the image of Samuel, when the people of Israel came to him, asking for a king, and he prayed. The other was an image of Samuel, praying all night over Saul.

Samuel really was a grand old man. And he has much to teach us about prayer!
I would ask that if you have the opportunity, to re-read the passages in I Samuel . . . if time is short, at least refresh your memory of chapters one, eight, twelve, and fifteen.
Let's dive in!

I'm not sure how long we will dwell on this subject; I guess when the Spirit tells me to move on, that will be when we move on!! We've talked before about prayer, both for ourselves and for others. This week we'll focus on praying for others. Many of us have loved ones or friends that we routinely pray for. There may be needs in their lives; they may not know Jesus personally; there are oodles of reasons why we lift up people to Jesus in prayer.

It's an awesome privilege, this thing called prayer. We start by making certain that there is nothing in our lives that would separate us from God -- we ask for personal forgiveness of sins. When we are accepted by God, then we can intercede for others. It can be seen as a proof of our relationship with Him when we rise above the narrow focus of repentance for our own sins, to look into the broader focus of another's sins or dire situation. And when we see the answers to our intercessory prayers, we see others blessed and even saved, and we rejoice in the love of God, as He reaches into lives and changes them by His grace.

Here's another thing to think about -- when we intercede for others in our prayers, we are becoming more like Christ. He pleaded for all of us in His prayers here on earth.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
He has ascended to the right hand of God and continually intercedes for us there.
Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
So, when we pray for others, we are in closer communion with our Savior.
Also, when we intercede for others in prayer, we are giving them a gift -- one that is of so much value that it cannot be measured. How is that? Well, many of us can trace our own conversion to the prayers of godly people. Perhaps a mom, a grandmom, or a dad, or a pastor prayed for us and we came to know Jesus in a personal relationship when He saved us from our sins. We may know others who came to know Christ because of praying friends, teachers, or pastors. Homebound prayer warriors intercede and plead for others with God, and souls are saved. Missionaries in the field can point to dates and times that the presence of God came down in a mighty way because folks were praying for their welfare, their growth, or the success of their ministry. Jesus told us to "pray one for another" and surely this is a command that we can honor!

Prayer is a benefit to us, as well. Sometimes it's a better way of comfort than any other. Do you recall what happened when Job prayed for his friends? The Lord showed mercy and blessed him abundantly. Even if prayer doesn't accomplish quite what we might want, it has awesome results! Do we find it hard to pray for our enemies? We can look at what David said:
But as for me, when they were sick,My clothing was sackcloth;I humbled myself with fasting;And my prayer would return to my own heart. (Psalm 35:13)
He tells us that he prayed for his enemies; he interceded in prayer for those who truly would have rejoiced if he had died. He says that his prayer returned to his own heart. It may not have accomplished exactly what he had in mind, but it returned to him, and gave him a sense of peace in his own spirit. I don't guess there is anything more restful or peaceful to our hearts, than to pray for those who persecute us. How much better to turn it over to God, than to "stew" as my grandma used to say, and become more and more stressed about them? Prayers for others are certainly not a waste of our breath!
We'll study more on this next time.....

1 comment:

Austin Towers said...

I love the story of Samuel, I remember as a child being moved by this little boy who heard God speak to him! So much to think about in this study. Prayer is not about getting things, but is our lifeline (can't think of a better word) that connects us to the Lord. xx