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Query for the Month

of October 2000

Prayers for others

 

Next up-date: November 1st (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

 

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

What does it mean to "be led by the Spirit"?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!

 


Query:

1 Kings 13:6

And the king answered and said to the man of God, "Entreat now the face of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again." And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

What does it mean to pray for others and how do we do it?

 

Response:

The first thought that comes into my mind is the advice given by the apostle to the church in general. He, under inspiration, wrote,

James 5:13-16

Is any among you afflicted [suffering]? Let him pray.

Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.

Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

For those who are suffering under temptation and trial, God's advice is to pray to the Spirit for guidance to get away from it, and for power from Him if you need to endure it.

The Holy Spirit abides with the consecrated worker for God, in whatever place we may be. The words spoken to the disciples are spoken also to us and we should believe them. John 15:26. The Comforter is ours as well as theirs, and He supplies the strength that sustains striving, wrestling Christians in every emergency, amidst the hatred of the world, and the realisation of our own failures and mistakes.

In sorrow and affliction, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone - these are the times when, in answer to the prayer of faith, the Holy Spirit brings comfort to our heart. This is what happened when Jesus asked.

Luke 22:41-43

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, "Father, if You be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." And there appeared an angel to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.


Then, to the sick He says call for those whom you believe have a close connection with God and ask them to pray in your stead. Why? Because when we are sick we cannot think clearly and if there ever was a time when an individual needs a clear and proper prayer, then the time of sickness is it.

So neither of these occasions gives rise for us to pray for another as it is generally understood. The elders around the sick bed are actually praying on behalf of the sick one because he/she cannot do it for themselves. Here is a great example.

Matthew 8:5-10

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented."

And Jesus says to him, "I will come and heal him."

The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, ‘Go’, and he goes; and to another, ‘Come’, and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this’, and he does it."

When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, "Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."

Something else we should remember too in this connection. Many have expected that God would keep them from sickness merely because they have asked Him to do so. But God did not regard their prayers, because their faith was not made perfect by works.

God will not work a miracle to keep those from sickness who have no care for themselves, but are continually violating the laws of health and make no efforts to prevent disease. That's called "presumption". When we do all we can on our part to have health, then may we expect that the blessed results will follow, and we can ask God in faith to bless our efforts for the preservation of health. He will then answer our prayer, if His name can be glorified thereby.

But let all understand that they have a work to do. God will not work in a miraculous manner to preserve the health of persons who are taking a sure course to make themselves sick, by their careless inattention to the laws of health. He will save us from sin without works, but when it comes to sickness, He expects works of faith.


The last of the trio does seem to imply that we should pray for one another AFTER one has confessed about a transgression against the other. But surely these words mean that we should be praying for the power to forgive the one who is at fault?

And, on the part of the guilty one, for cleansing from that fault?

Remember how Jesus told us to pray?

Matthew 6:12-15

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors [Those who have faults against us.]. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

So, if you have given offense to your friend or neighbor, you are to acknowledge your wrong, and it is his or her duty freely to forgive you. Then you are to seek the forgiveness of God also, because the brother or sister you have wounded is the property of God, and in injuring them you have sinned against his or her Creator.

And do not forget that true confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.

So, when is it right for us to pray for others? And how should we do it?

Let’s look at an example of prayer for some one else.

Luke 22:31-34

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers and sisters [in the same way?]."

And he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both into prison, and to death." And He said, "I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that you shall three times deny that you know Me."

At first glance it appears that the prayers of Jesus were of no effect because as we all know, Peter did deny Jesus three times on the night. Matthew 26:72-75. But then he repented! Why?

Because he remembered the words of Jesus.

It was through self-sufficiency that Peter fell; and it was through repentance and humiliation that his feet were again established. In the record of his experience every repenting sinner may find encouragement. Though Peter had grievously sinned, he was not forsaken. The words of Christ were written upon his soul, "I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." Luke 22:32.

In his bitter agony of remorse, this prayer, and the memory of Christ's look of love and pity, gave him hope.

Christ after His resurrection remembered Peter, and gave the angel the message for the women, "Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes before you into Galilee; there shall you see Him." Mark 16:7. Peter's repentance was accepted by the sin-pardoning Saviour.

God’s word NEVER comes back to Him void, and so it was in this case.

It did not stop Peter from facing the temptation: it did not stop Peter from choosing to enter into it: what it did do was save Peter from the results of his choice. But it was extra to the efforts of the Spirit and in the end it was His efforts through the remembrance of the words that got through to Peter.

Judas, who likewise betrayed Jesus that night, had also been warned but not quite so explicitly as we can see in the next quote. However, he did not choose to repent but after the trials went out and hanged himself.

John 13:25-30

He [John] then lying on Jesus' breast said to Him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop [a crust], when I have dipped it [in the wine]."

And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus to him, "That you do, do quickly."

Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spoke this to him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the [money] bag, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things that we have need of against the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

So what was the purpose of the prayers? To save Peter and Judas from a problem. And how did they do that? By changing the events? No. What they did do was enter Peter’s mind when Jesus told him He was praying for him! He now had that thought in his consciousness and it was this that he responded to when the Spirit reminded him.

Prayer does not change our Heavenly Father's mind, nor His actions, but it does change our relation to Him. We are thus brought near to God, and are enabled to unite our finite strength to His infinite power.

The purpose of prayer is not to change God or His plans.

It is to change us.

The purpose of prayer for others is first,

to change us by giving us a deeper concern for them, for as we pray and think about them our interest in them deepens,

and then second, to change them.

So it is imperative that they know about our prayers for them.

Prayers we may make for others are the kind where we ask God if there is anything we can do to help them in their work, in their walk with Him, or in their knowledge of Him. But in every instance, we should be asking if we can help, not if He will, for we should believe that He is already doing more than we can ever imagine.

Conclusion:

All may approach our loving Father for themselves. This is one of the things that Jesus did for us while on earth. He removed the partition of human intervention and replaced it with the original one where we can boldly approach the everlasting God through Him. We have no need for others to intercede for us UNLESS we are helpless.

Hebrews 10:19-25

Having therefore, brothers and sisters, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.

And having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting [encouraging] one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.

Prayer and faith are closely allied, and they need to be studied together. In the prayer of faith there is a divine science; it is a science that everyone who would make his or her lifework a success must understand. Christ says, "What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." Mark 11:24.

He makes it plain that our asking must be according to God's will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the promise is sure. For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper, for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; then we are to believe that we receive, and return thanks to God that we have received.

We need look for no outward evidence of the blessing. The gift is in the promise, and we may go about our work assured that what God has promised He is able to perform, and that the gift, which we already possess, will be realised when we need it most.


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

 

Spiritual Dictionary:

Prayer for others:

All may approach our loving Father for themselves. This is one of the things that Jesus did for us while on earth. He removed the partition of human intervention and replaced it with the original one where we can boldly approach the everlasting God through Him. We have no need for others to intercede for us UNLESS we are helpless.

Prayer and faith are closely allied, and they need to be studied together. In the prayer of faith there is a divine science; it is a science that everyone who would make his or her lifework a success must understand. Christ says, "What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." Mark 11:24.

He makes it plain that our asking must be according to God's will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the promise is sure.


Next thought. To be discussed from November 1st 2000.

John 18:36

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence."

Should Christians get involved in politics?

 


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