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THE POWER OF INTERCESSION

November 4, 2013

“…Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel…Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” ­– Matthew 8:10&13

Most of us are familiar with the tale of the Centurion’s servant: on the surface, we see a tale that relates a simple – and yet, amazing – faith. But there is more to this story than just the power of faith – another lesson to take away besides this Gentile soldier’s steadfast belief in Christ’s power…and that lesson is the power and importance of intercession. See, we forget sometimes just how necessary intercessory prayer is; we forget because mankind, as a collective, is a selfish and self-serving species. We tend to focus our prayers on our own needs, and trials, and comfort – all the while forgetting that, as Christians, we have an obligation to put the needs of others above ourselves. Because prayer has power: an undeniable, remarkable power that can touch hearts and change lives…and the only thing we have to do to achieve this incredible power is to drop to our knees with a clear conscience and a sincere heart. The things that can be done with prayer cannot be underestimated – it is the prayers of the saints that gets things done: that brings peace, that heals, that uplifts, that convicts…that makes a difference. I remember once telling a loved one that praying for their difficulties was all that I could really do for them at the time…and that was when it struck me: it wasn’t just all that I could do, it was the most – and best – that any one person can do for another!

 

The Centurion in the story goes to Jesus on behalf of his sick servant, who was suffering terribly from palsy, “grievously tormented”. He goes in his servant’s place, as the servant was unable to do for himself, stricken with the illness. There is a parallel here to the Christian who goes to God in prayer for the lost, who – because they suffer from the greatest illness, sin – are also unable (or unwilling) to go forward themselves. When we go to our Lord on another’s behalf, asking in selfless faith for the benefit of others, I believe that we will be given the same response that Christ gave this Roman soldier: “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” (Matt. 8:13)

 

The Gospel of Luke elaborates even further on the tale: in it, we are told that the Centurion went to the Jewish Elders on behalf of his servant, who in turn – due to the soldier’s kindness and loyalty to their community – went to beseech Jesus on his behalf. Here we have two examples of intercession: the Centurion going in his servant’s place, and the Elders going in his. Because the simple truth is that we all, at one time or another, have been unable, unwilling, or too ignorant or confused to do what we needed to do, or what we were supposed to do. And praise God, I can safely say that most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those blessed few who didn’t hesitate to step forward in our place: who stepped up to pray for our salvation, our healing, our peace of mind, our wisdom, our discernment – or countless other problems that we fail to address in the only way that works…with prayer. Those who saw the need and went to the Lord on our behalf, in our stead, and out of love and concern for us. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men,” (I Tim. 2:1)

 

In this, too, we find our model of perfection in Jesus Christ, who sits even now at the right hand of God, making intercession for all of us, “Wherefore He is able to save then to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them,” (Heb. 7:25). We also find that His life, death, and Resurrection was, in itself, an intercession on our behalf – to go forward in our place and offer Himself as payment for our debts. It’s amazing how little in turn is expected of us: merely to go forward in prayer for each other is required, and still we manage to fall short of expectations. Today, we have to ask ourselves: are our prayers selfless or selfish? Do we beseech God in the name of those who need our prayers the most, or are we as self-absorbed as we ever were? We have a gift in the power of our prayers, as we are told time and time again: “ask, seek, knock,”…”where two or more come together,”…”ye have not because ye ask not,”…”whatsoever ye ask in My name,”…all these indications of the great power and authority that our prayers possess, and still we neglect to implement it. And, when we do, we “ask amiss”, as we are told in James, because we “consume it upon our lusts”. We fail to be selfless, and so we fail to be Christ-like. After all, where would be if He did not make intercession for us? Let’s all make sure to devote more of our time to praying for others. Maybe if we did more of that, and less whining about how they failed to live up to our expectations, we might be able to actually live up to His!

 

“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” – Romans 8:34

 

Be blessed,

Joshua

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