Jan 7, 2013, 10:50 AM
Paul, one of the greatest apostles accredited with authoring thirteen epistles to the first century Christians asked the Christian community in Thessalonica to pray for them. You wouldn’t think he needed the prayers of his brothers in Thessalonica because of his faith level? Yet, in one of his letters to the newly-established church in Thessalonica he wrote: “Brothers, pray for us.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 27) In fact, he was soliciting young Christian believers to intervene on their behalf.
Very often we think of a man of God as being all-sufficient with regard to his relationship with God, the Almighty. In the Book of James we read: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b) Whilst he may be fervent in prayer for others, he also needs the prayers of others to overcome.
First century Christians were subject to diverse forms of persecution ranging from mob killings (by stoning) to imprisonment. They therefore needed the constant prayers of the Church for God’s grace and mercy, His protection and guidance in such a hostile environment.
From Paul’s appeal to his brothers we deduce that prayer is important in all circumstances. We need to continually stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters - irrespective of their social or political backgrounds. Paul valued their prayer and therefore asked them to intercede on their behalf. Intercessory prayer is an integral part of the Christian’s prayer life. It has little to do with your age in the Faith.
Young and inexperienced Christians equally have access to God and can get Him to move in our favour. Soon after his conversion, Paul - who was once a staunch Pharisee - was found on his knees praying to God. “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.” (Acts 9:11) was the order Ananias received from our Lord Jesus. What is important in the sight of God is that the person in question has been transformed, born again and is totally dependent on Him.
Prayer is the sign of the new birth that reunites you with the source. It is vital to the soul. As children of God, we enjoy direct access to God. The veil that once separated us from getting into God’s presence had been rent in two as Jesus died on the cross. All those who accept Him as Lord and Saviour of their lives have access to the Father.
Prayer is the weapon of our warfare. The world is not a playground but a battlefield and we are called to fight. Charles Wesley summoned all Christians to be ready to fight. “Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armour on. Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.” (Methodist Hymn Book, Hymn 484) The Bible teaches: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
Paul in his epistle to the Thessalonians recommended that they should “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) If we model our prayer life on that of our Lord Jesus then we will pray often. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Luke 6:12) “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him…. (Luke 9:18) “And as He was praying the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” (Luke 9:29) Even as He agonised on the cross, He prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Our Lord Jesus was relentless in prayer. Every day He consulted with the Father to renew His power. Through constant prayers He fortified Himself for the programme ahead. He said: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34) Even today as He sits at the right hand of the Father, He is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
Intercessory prayer is a tool in the hands of the believer with which to make constant appeals to the Lord God Almighty for ourselves and for others. We are engaged in an on-going battle for which the Christian’s commitment should be total and unflinching. The battle however is purely spiritual. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” (Ephesians 6:12)
As we push our way through prayer, our situations will change. God will take full control. Wherever He is present every obstacle, worry, impediment, sickness or difficulty must bow or give way. The slogan PUSH, urges us to Pray Until Something Happens. That is the daily agenda of the believer. A lukewarm prayer life is not soldier-like. God wants us either hot or cold; otherwise he will spit us out. (Revelation 3:15-16)
God has always been in search of prayer warriors; “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30)Could you be the one God is looking for to take up this mantle?