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Monday, April 9, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 40

Prayers of Intercession continued...

Since there are a multitude of facets to the prayer of intercession, we will continue in this vein of discussing intercession, zooming in a little closer, seeing a true prayer of intercession for a single individual rather than for an entire body.

Although Jesus prayed for the church as a whole often enough, He also prayed prayers of intercession for individuals, and the prayer He prayed for the Apostle Peter is one of the most noteworthy and memorable of them.

Luke 22:31-32, “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’”

By the words Jesus spoke in regards to Peter, we come to understand that God is no stranger to what the future holds for us as individuals. God is not ignorant of tomorrow as we are ignorant of tomorrow. He is omniscient, meaning all knowing, and as such He knows what tomorrow holds in store for each one of us.

Jesus prayed a specific prayer of intercession for Peter, telling him He had prayed that his faith should not fail. Likewise Jesus also showed Peter a glimpse of what the future held for him as an individual, instructing him that when he returned to Christ, he should strengthen his brethren.

Jesus knew Peter would betray Him, and He likewise knew that Peter would return to Him. Upon His return, Jesus commands Peter to strengthen his brethren, likewise intimating that the brethren, at that particular moment of their walk, would be in need of strengthening.

As believers it is a given that we will have enemies. The Bible forewarns us of the enemies of the soul, chief among them the world and its lusts and temptations. For the past two thousand years Satan has not stopped asking to sift the church as wheat, and from time to time this is allowed that the chaff might be separated from the wheat, and the difference be made clear to one and all.

I fear yet another sifting is imminent, a sifting that will descend upon the household of faith with the ferocity of a whirlwind, and unless we come before God with prayers of intercession for ourselves and for our fellow brothers in Christ, unless we humble ourselves and seek strength in God rather than in our own intellect, we will be blown away by the storm which is about to descend upon the congregation of God.

Jesus interceded for the church, but He also interceded for Peter specifically, because He knew of Peter’s particular weakness and frailty, He knew of Peter’s tendency to cower in the face of fierce opposition, and Christ’s prayer for Peter was that his faith should not fail.

Jesus never prayed that Peter’s faith never be tested. He never prayed that Peter’s faith never be tried. He prayed that when Peter’s faith would be tested and tried, it would not fail him.

The reason I gravitated toward this particular passage of scripture is because countless believers today believe that it is not God’s will that our faith be tested. Whenever one brings up the topic of the testing of one’s faith, or the trials we often go through in order to prove our faith out, as though triggering some Pavlovian response, men begin to shake their heads and say that God doesn’t test men’s faith.

1 Peter 1:6-9, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls.”

So Peter tells us, that the genuineness of our faith is tested by fire, so it might be found to praise honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The word of God tells us our faith is tested, some if need be, by fire, but even the testing of our faith is for the purpose of glorifying God.

In order to rightly discern between an attack of the enemy, and the testing of our faith, we must first be open to the notion that God does test our faith. Otherwise, we will lump everything together into one pile, label it all ‘attacks of the enemy’ and not perceive it when God is testing the genuineness of our faith, that it might be found to praise honor and glory in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus did not pray that Peter might circumvent the testing of his faith, find a way around it, or avoid it altogether, He prayed that Peter’s faith endure, that it withstand the pressure, and persevere through it.

When we pray prayers of intercession, may we be wise in the words we choose, and the prayers we pray to God. We intercede on behalf of others asking God to strengthen them, to keep them, to encourage them, to comfort them, to heal them, but not to spare them something that He has chosen to allow in their lives for one reason or another.

God takes us through trials, not around them. In Him we have the strength to persevere, in Him we have the faith to overcome, in Him we have the energy to move ever onward, and in Him we have the certainty that though trials may come, though hardships may abound, His love endures forever.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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