Devotional Week 51 Thursday
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.”
Jeremiah 17: 7, 8
New Living Translation
“Trees that brave storms are not propagated by hothouses! It requires storms to produce the rooting.
Today’s Study Text:
“I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which Thy hast give Me; for they are Mine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.”
John 17: 9, 10
“Learning To Pray Like Jesus – Part 4
Praying For Others”
“Have you ever learned the beautiful art of letting God take care of you and giving all your thought and strength to pray for others and for the kingdom of God? It will relieve you of a thousand cares.”
A. B. Simpson
How important is it to me to pray for others when I realize that Jesus prayed over fifty times in one prayer for His children on earth?
If I made a priority list of things to do each day, what would be the number I would assign to praying for those whose lives I touch each day?
How would I define the word “intercede”?
“When we hold up the life of another before God, when we expose it to God’s love, when we pray…only then do we sense what it means to share in God’s work, in His concern; only then do the walls that separate us from others go down and we sense that we are at bottom all knit together in a great and intimate family”
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all.”
I Timothy 2: 1
When reading the words in the New Testament, written by the Apostle Paul, we would do well to remember that many of these passages are from letters the Apostle Paul wrote to personal friends as well as members in the churches he helped plant in the Gentile world.
The fact that what Paul intended as correspondence between friends now has become part of the Hoy Scriptures, would probably be a surprise to this dedicated servant of God. But there is something extremely important for us to consider about the messages contained in these letters – especially handwritten notes.
I know that in reading over letters which have been sent to me, as well as letters I have sent to others, there is frequently a familiarity which jumps off the page, especially when the communication is between individuals who have known each other for quite a length of time.
In Paul’s letters, I find his notes to Timothy contain a closeness that I felt when my dad used to write me regularly when I was in college. My father somehow found that perfect balance between sharing the message of a caring heart and projecting the concern of a protective parent. This is the same balance I recognize in Paul’s letter to Timothy. In I Timothy, Chapter 1, the love Paul has for this young man is tenderly expressed in I Timothy 1: 2 when Paul writes: “To Timothy, my true son in the faith; grace, spiritual blessing and favor, mercy, and heart peace be yours from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Like a loving father, Paul yearns for heaven’s blessings to be showered upon Timothy. As Chapter One continues, Paul offers advice to Timothy regarding the work he is involved in Ephesus and then Paul underscores the importance of staying faithful to God and the gospel and grace that flows freely from the life of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
We find Chapter Two begins with the text I shared above regarding “prayer for all men and women.” Paul then expands his counsel by telling Timothy that we should pray for “kings and all who are in positions of authority,” making it clear that “such praying is good and right, and it is pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior, who wishes all men and women to be saved and to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely the divine Truth” (I Timothy 2: 3, 4, Amplified Bible).
Obviously, the instruction that we should pray for others has its origin in none other than our heavenly Father. It is from our Father’s throne of grace that we are invited to come with praise, prayers, thanksgiving and yes, intercession.
In order to more clearly understand the word “intercede”, as used by Paul in the New Testament, I checked the Greek definition which means: “to entreat for a favor, to make supplication or a request on behalf of”. In current English, the word “intercede” means: “to argue on another’s behalf.” Or in Latin: “to intervene”.
How I love the Latin definition of the word “intercede” for what a wonderful way to portray the heavenly gift of “intervening” on behalf of another to my heavenly Father who I already know loves everyone of His children and with His profound love, desires that none should perish. In his book, Prayer and Worship, Douglas Steere sheds even more light on how effective intercessory prayer is when he observes, “There is no greater intimacy with another than that which is built through holding him or her up in prayer.”
When we stop and consider that in the span of the twenty-six verses found in John 17, Jesus refers to His children in the world fifty times, I must say my heart overflows with gratitude to my Father in heaven whose care and concern for me is so great that He prays, continuously for my welfare, my salvation, and my life.
As I considered this gracious love that surrounds me, shielding me every moment of every day, I was reminded of Jesus’ interaction with one of His dearest and closest disciples – Simon Peter. In one of Peter’s moments when he was assuring Jesus how very faithful he was, Jesus spoke these words to the “I-can-do-it-on-my-own” fisherman, “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has asked excessively that all of you be given up to him, out of the power and keeping of God, that he might sift all of you like grain. But I have prayed especially for you, Peter (I have prayed especially for you, (your name here) that your faith may not fail, and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren – turn to your companions and give them a fresh start” (Luke 22: 31, 32, Amplified and Message Bible).
What Jesus wanted Peter to understand, along with each of us, is that the evil one longs to grab us, to sift us and separate us from God. But oh, how Satan has met his match, for you and I are completely surrounded by a wall of prayer. Our intercessor, Jesus Christ has intervened. And because of His gracious love, we are blanketed in a protective covering of prayer. It is from this blessed recognition of being prayed for, I am to come forth, not only ready, but well-equipped to pray for others who need to have heavenly power infusing their lives, too. This is the example left by Jesus in John 17 when He told His Father, “I pray for them.”
Author David Scott, in his book,Moments of Prayer offers this illumination on the power which is released through the gift of intercession:
“Intercession…is a way of seeing people and placing them at the source of Love…we are entering into a relationship with both God and the other person in a solidarity of care and concern. We do not pray for someone imagining that we are the strong one and they the weak, with God hovering somewhere in between. We are all beggars before God, and God also has shown Himself vulnerable and human in Jesus Christ.”
As we open our hearts as Jesus did, praying for those who we may not even know personally, what a joy it is to bring before our Father, as His Son did, the loved ones, the friends, and the world. As Kate Compston beautifully penned, “let us reach out…dare us open up…soul to soul.”
In the touching words of the song written by Mark Bishop:
“Can I pray for you?
Can I mention your name to the Lord?
When I seek His face, can I plead your case?
That’s what praying is for.
I’ll help carry your cross,
And find the way when you’re lost.
If we’ll let Jesus be true,
I know that He’ll see you through.
Can I pray for you?”
“A ‘prayer warrior’ is a person who is convince that God is omnipotent – that God has the power to do anything, to change anyone and to intervene in any circumstance. A person who truly believes this refuses to doubt God.”
“I pray for them…those that You gave me.
For they are Yours by right.
Everything Mine is Yours, and Yours Mine.
And My life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be
visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
while I return to You.
Holy Father, guard them as
they purse this life that
You conferred as a gift through Me.”
John 17: 9-12
The Message Bible
“God of our tender care, we pray with those who are praying. We join the spoken and silent prayers that come to You from throughout the earth – from sanctuaries and street corners, from battle lines and prison cells, from hospital rooms and festive tables. With bowed heads or heads held high, standing boldly or kneeling quietly, we pray to You with thanks, with sorrow, with urgency. We ask Your guidance; we rest in Your comfort. Speak, O God, to Your praying people everywhere! Here this our common prayer and those of our hearts which we offer now.”
Ann B. Day
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus