Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 45

Prayers of Intercession continued...

Since we’ve discussed Christ’s prayer of intercession on behalf of the church, we will continue in the vein of intercession, and discuss another form of it, namely intercession for the leaders, the elders, and those whom God has appointed as our spiritual overseers.

Whether one shepherds a church of fifty or five thousand, whether they are well known, have name recognition and their faces grace the covers of books, or no one has heard of them beyond their extended family, every man whom God calls to preach the gospel, requires much intercessory prayer.

Admittedly, nowadays we are more apt to judge, belittle, denigrate, nitpick, and disparage anyone in spiritual authority over us than we are to intercede on their behalf, because the very notion of anyone in spiritual authority over them, is anathema to a growing segment of believers.

We no longer warm to the idea of spiritual accountability, be it to an elder, a deacon, a pastor, a bishop, or God Himself, because it’s all about blazing our own trail, finding our own path, discovering our own spirituality, and dozens of other foolish mantra-like one liners, that are antithetical to the word of God.

No, this is not an endorsement or validation of organized religion. It is however an endorsement and validation of biblical principles, and pre-established biblical parameters when it comes to leadership, elders, deacons, and what amounts to the construct of the Body of Christ.

The truth is simple. Not only are those on the frontlines of the battle in need of your intercessory prayers, they covet your prayers more than you will ever know.

Even one such as Paul the Apostle of Christ, the man whom we know as the one who was taken up to the third heaven, asked for, and coveted the prayers and intercessions of the saints on his behalf.

Shortly after encouraging and admonishing the household of faith in Ephesus to put on the whole armor of God that they might stand against the darkness, Paul makes a plea for himself and for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:18-20, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

At the time of this writing Paul was in prison, as he called himself an ambassador in chains, and although he did his best to encourage, teach, and admonish the congregation at Ephesus, he likewise asked that they remember the saints, as well as him in their prayers before God.

Paul was a man in need of strength, and he was a man in need of boldness, for he knew that even in chains he must open his mouth boldly, and make known the mystery of the gospel to those who would hear.

It goes without saying that the church belongs to Christ. It is Jesus that builds His church. It is Jesus that redeemed the church with the price of His blood. Jesus is the head of the church, the one who establishes, who edifies, who grows, and who has authority over the church and leads it. The word of God tells us however, that Jesus delegates the responsibility of leadership to chosen vessels, which He appoints through the Holy Spirit.

Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

As he was about to depart Ephesus, Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders, and reminds them to take heed, or to be watchful both of themselves, and all the flock among which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers.

The Holy Spirit had chosen this group of men to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood, and Paul is warning them that after his departure, savage wolves would come in among them, not sparing the flock.

Paul was reaffirming the truth that as shepherds, as elders, as overseers of God’s people, it was their responsibility to protect the sheep from the wolves, to stand in the gap, and defend the innocent from the deception that would not spare them, if allowed to overtake them.

It is because the overseers, the shepherds of God’s people need to exert so much energy defending the sheep from the wolves that we need to hold them up in prayer, and intercede on their behalf as often as we are able.

It is hard, especially when rather than praying for you, those you are attempting to protect start throwing rocks at your back, because the wolf song is sweet to their ears, and they don’t yet realize what will become of them if the wolves are allowed to enter the camp.

Couple the wolves, with those from within the camp who rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves as Paul warned, and one can readily understand why so many true shepherds are haggard, and worn, and tired, and bloody, and ready to throw in the towel.

We expect so much from our spiritual overseers, yet we don’t take the time to intercede on their behalf even though we see they are wearing thin, stretched beyond their limits, trying to keep it all together, and still have some semblance of a family and a family life.

So, sticking up for all the true preachers and true pastors out there, the next time you feel like judging a sermon for not being fancy enough, eloquent enough, or hermeneutically in depth enough, rather than start a phone tree, and call everyone on the list scoring the soliloquy as though it were some Olympic event, get on your knees, and pray for the man, intercede on his behalf, and ask God to give him boldness to speak as he ought to speak.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


Anonymous said...

So True. If we would spend only half the time spent critiquing others in prayer for them, what a change we could see in this world!

Thank you for this series.

Mrs. Pugh

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