A Labor of Love; Intercessory Prayer
Who Do You Know That Prays Faithfully for You? Who is the most prayerful person that you know that has had the most significant impact upon your life through their prayers? Think about the kind of life they live and what other characteristics mark their lives. Doesn’t it stir a gratitude in your heart to think about those who have covered you in prayer and brought you before the throne of grace, pleading with God to bring about His good plans for your life? Each of us has had someone’s prayers make a significant impact in our lives even if we can’t think of anyone that has prayed faithfully for us. If you don’t have anyone who has prayed faithfully for you then perhaps you should seek to befriend the kind of people that do pray faithfully & fervently living godly lives. Paul instructed His young disciple Timothy to pursue righteous, faith, love and peace along with those who call out on the Lord with a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). What if you not only had the precious gift of relationship with others that are praying for you but what if you became that praying person for others who faithfully praying brings them before the throne of grace? What if you were to be what you desired to see & have in relationship? The Lord has called His Church to pray much, not only about our own needs, hopes & dreams but also that we pray much for others. Praying for others is a mark of maturity in the life of a disciple and a necessary element to be an effective disciple maker. Like a father or a mother who has accepted the responsibility of parenting which requires putting priority of their children’s needs, so God calls us saints into the mature place of caring for other believers so that they may become all that God has created & planned for them to be. Intercession is simply the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person.
Intercessory Prayer is Hard Work In Colossians 4 Paul mentioned an example of an ordinary saint who was walking this out. As far as we know he didn’t have a position of apostle, pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, deacon,elder, etc… This man named Epaphras worked hard in prayer for the Colossians saints. He served the Lord Jesus & His Church by laboring for them intercession. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Colossians 4:12-13 ESV
Praying for others faithfully & fervently can be difficult work. It means that we spend enough time thinking about them, caring for them and bringing them before the throne of grace. J.I. Packer in His book Praying: finding our way through duty to delight says this:
“If we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which our intercessions focus we may not be able to pray for as many items and issues. Our amplifyings and argumentation will [then] lift our intercessions from the shopping list prayer-wheel level to the apostolic category of what Paul called struggle.” J.I. Packer Carolyn Nystrom (See Colossians 1:29, 2:1-3, 4:12)
The Greek word translated struggling in Colossians 4:12 is agōnizomai. It means: to be a combatant in the public games; to contend, fight, strive earnestly. It looks & sounds similar to our English word agonize. This word is what Paul used to describe the labor of intercessory prayer. Intercessory is a labor of love. In it we love others enough to bear the burden for them and anguish for their souls. This struggle for the saints is something that Paul said he did “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29). Though ministry is hard work that involves sacrifice & struggle the Saints are not left to their own willpower to carry it out in their own strength. Intercession is bringing the burden for others to God in prayer but we are to do so with the energy & strength that God provides. If we don’t draw on the strength of God to minster faithfully to others by praying for them then we will be danger of burning ourselves out and allowing the weight of ministry drain the life and joy out of us. Intimacy with God must be sustained if intercession is to be sustained.
Andrew Murray said “It is prayer that lies at the root of spiritual life and power of the Church”. When asked the secret of his spiritual power, Charles Spurgeon said: “Knee work! Knee work! Billy Graham said, “The three secrets to successful ministry are: prayer, prayer and more prayer.”
Christ is Our Greatest Example of Intercession
Jesus has displayed the greatest expression of love for us by going to the cross for us. He did this prayerfully for us. You have been covered and are being covered in prayer by the great intercessor & High Priest Jesus Christ (John 17, Hebrews 7:25).
25 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 7:25 ESV
34 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 ESV
The hymn writer of I Stand Amazed In The Presence penned this powerful words: “For me it was in the garden, He prayed: “Not my will, but Thine.” He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat-drops of blood for mine. He took my sins and my sorrows And He made them His very own And bore the burden to Calvary And suffered and died alone”
Stand amazed at His great love for you! Then let the domino effect of the gospel led you to love others like Christ has loved you (1 John 3:16). If you desire to be more gospel-centered and Christ-like then becoming an intercessor who prays on behalf of others is the path you must take. This truly is a labor of love that Christ Himself performed flawlessly and is still serving us in that position of intercession today. Interceding for others is a significant way that we display Christlikeness and apply the gospel to our relationships, since Christ Himself is the ultimate intercessor. Our intercession for others is to be done in the name of Jesus, in His authority, for His glory and by His strength. We now have access to come boldly before the throne of grace because Jesus our High Priest has made a way for us. We can be an extension of His love and intercession for others who currently don’t have the access we have through the gospel work of reconciliation.
So make a prayer list for those in your church and pray faithfully for them. Spend enough time to think about their situations and struggles then roll the weight of that off to the Lord in prayer. What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer