March 7, 2014

Being prayed for leads to praying for others . . .

Before I became a Christian, people were praying for me. I didn’t know it, but realized later that Christian neighbors could see my need for Jesus and His amazing grace. They prayed for God’s intervention in my life, otherwise, I could easily be overwhelmed by the results of my sinful choices and lifestyle.

Today, I pray for people, both Christians and not-yet-saved people who have no idea that I am praying for them. This is the work of Christ in me, creating a desire to intercede for others. I know intercession is not my idea, for in myself there is little concern about their fate, but in Him there is eternal concern, and He lives in me.

One mention of His continual prayer for His people was just prior to the crucifixion. Peter was certain that he would never betray Jesus, but Jesus knew otherwise . . .

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31–34)

As I read this, I recall the many times that I have denied the Lord in my actions, words, or thoughts. Yet in me there is this persistent desire to ‘get it right’ and keep believing, to be faithful, to become increasingly faithful, to obey rather than deny my Lord. Lest I think this is a quality of my life, I realize that Jesus is praying for me. His prayers keep me in a place of faith. Without Him, I could not last even a minute. Because He lives in me, I sense that same desire to intercede.

Jesus is the perfect intercessor (I am not). In the economy of God, this was the role of the priests. Yet these priests were mere men, and their prayer life lasted only as long as they did . . .

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23–25)

Jesus lives forever to pray for His people. The Bible also affirms that He indeed prays. This is part of His saving work. It was prophesied by Isaiah . . .

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

Sometimes my sense of failure and unfaithfulness to Jesus overwhelms me. I feel the harassment of my accuser, Satan himself, and with it, a sense of utter condemnation. I know that Jesus died for me, but under the pounding of the enemy, it seems so long ago, so disconnected to the failures of today. But then God speaks . . .

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

How wonderful to know that my Savior is still working to ensure my total salvation. Along with that, I am greatly encouraged when someone tells me that they are praying for me, and deeply appreciate their efforts. I know that Jesus is using them, making them part of His prayer ministry.

I also know how challenging intercession can be, for that sinister accuser does not want it to happen. As with Peter, he would sift us all like wheat to ruin our effectiveness for Christ. Prayer is a spiritual battle.

Yet the enemy cannot sift the Great Intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus lives forever at the right hand of God, and continually prays for His own so our faith will not fail. For this, I am gratefully indebted, and for this I am also motivated to intercede for others.

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