Thesis: To intercede for someone is to want more for them than it is in your power to give.
1. In Richard Foster's book, Prayer, he says: "If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others."
2. I believe those thoughts lie at the heart of what it means to pray for one another. Tonight ...
a. Look briefly at several examples of intercessory prayer.
b. Look a little more closely at a NT example.
c. Consider a few practical points about praying for one another.
I. EXAMPLES OF INTERCESSORY PRAYERS.
A. Intercessory prayer is an important ministry (Exodus 17:8-13).
1. Moses prayer was just as vital to victory as Joshua's fighting.
2. Not everyone can be a Joshua, but everyone can be a Moses.
B. God likes to be asked (Genesis 18:16-33).
1. God's ear is open to our concerns and he is responsive.
2. Luke 18:1-8.
II. THE PRAYERS OF EPAPHRAS (Col. 4:12-13).
A. Who is Epaphras?
1. Probably converted by Paul in Ephesus. Later went 100 miles inland to the Lycus river valley--Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis-- where he may have been instrumental in establishing those churches.
2. When Colossians is written Epaphras is in Rome visiting Paul. Sought his advice in how to deal with false teachers.
B. Read Col. 4:12-13 ..... Epaphras' prayers were:
1. CONSTANT--"Always wrestling in prayer."
a. Not a one-time thing; on-going.
b. Illust. Old story in preacher circles about a rural church. Old farmer went into the church building every Saturday afternoon at 2:00 and did not come out until evening. One day someone peeked in the window to see what he was doing. He would start at the front pew and pray his way to the back pew. He was praying for each family that sat in those pews.
c. We have people like that in our church!
2. CONCRETE--"That you may stand firm."
a. Very specific in content.
b. NOT: "We pray for those for whom it is our duty to pray."
3. CONSISTENT--"He is working hard for you."
a. The fact that Epaphras was in Rome showed there was more to his prayers than, "Lord, take care of these people."
b. Illust. Two men were being pursued by a bear. One said, "Let's stop and say a quick prayer." The other replied, "Let's pray as we run!" We need to be praying and doing something about it.
III. PRACTICAL POINTS ABOUT PRAYER.
A. None of us can shoulder the burden of prayer for everyone and everything.
1. The person who glibly says, "pray for me" may not realize what he/she is asking.
2. The person who glibly says, "I'll pray for you" does not realize what he/she is saying.
B. We need to be persistent in what we decide to take on in prayer.
1. Already made that point--want to stress it again--easy to get discouraged when we fail to see results.
2. Richard Foster: "When we begin praying for others, we soon discover that it is easy to become discouraged at the results, which seem frustratingly slow and uneven. This is because we are entering the strange mix of divine influence and human autonomy."