June 20, 2016

Pity party or intercession?

Listening to someone pray reveals much about them. Some cannot pray aloud. Are they shy? Private people? Worried about saying the wrong thing (?) or about what others might think?

Those who do pray aloud might use flowery “King James” language that once seemed normal, but now it seems superficial. Many pray for physical needs indicating they value comfort and good health. Some pray giving long explanations as if God needs all the details. Some use prayer as a way to spread gossip (Yikes) and I’ve heard prayers filled with apologies for not being good enough.

The Old Testament story tells how Job went through a test in which he lost everything, including his children. He queried God for he could not understand why this was happening to him. His friends thought they knew — Job must have sinned and God was punishing him. Job insisted otherwise.

In the end, God never told Job what his situation was all about, but He did declare that his friends had not said the right things as Job had. He told them Job would intercede and rescue them from getting what they deserved. The Lord accepted Job’s prayer . . . 

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)

Just as prayer brings out our priorities, so do severe trials. Over the last week, my trial involved the threat of heart failure. With good medical advice, I’ve been able to get rid of the retained fluid (about 10 lbs of it) and start feeling normal again. Yet during that time, my thoughts went to questions and fears. My priority was my own mortality.

However, by the amazing grace of God, I found myself thinking about others. I have many friends and relatives that do not know Jesus yet. I’ve been praying for them for many years. Last week, I couldn’t fix my own threat, but neither can I fix the perilous situation of others. Also, Christian friends are in need. One is dying of brain cancer. How could I think of only me when she is so frail and needy? I left my pity-party and began again to intercede again.

I don’t know if my situation is like Job’s, but Chambers says I must leave myself in His hands, and pour out to God in the priestly work of intercession. I’m not to pray in disbelief concerning the saving work of Jesus Christ, not am I to focus on my own fears and doubts. I confessed them to God and quit insulting Him by asking to do things He has already done or promised to do.

Chambers says that if I am not being blessed, or not getting my daily needs met, then I should start praying for my friends. “The real business of your life as a saved soul is intercessory prayer.”

Wherever circumstance God puts me in, my work is either interrupted (one of Satan’s ploys), or I can keep on doing what God has given me to do. Intercessory prayer is asking God to have mercy, forgive sin, open eyes to the need, and bless those on my list with faith and eternal life.

If what happened to Job is a pattern for those who respond to their situation by praying for their friends, them I identify more with Job that I thought. If not, I’m still glad that the Lord redirected my concerns for ‘poor me’ to the greater concern and need of others who still do not know about His amazing grace and power. Like Job, I need to keep interceding for my friends.

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