Summary: “The value of persistent prayer is not so that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear Him.”
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, May 29, 2011
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
“Praying … Not Preying: The High Priestly Prayer” [Part Four]
One of the most heartening experiences a person can enjoy is to be prayed for by someone else. And even more comforting is to have that person pray with you. When someone prays on your behalf something wondrous happens! A bond is established between you and that other person, but there’s also a sense of intimacy between you and God. It’s as though you are being ushered into the very presence of God!
Yes, prayer can be an effective conduit in establishing and nurturing relationships among Christians. Praying …as opposed to preying helps to ensure harmony and peace within the church. When a congregation prays together, it helps in preventing any unseemly attempt to incite discord or strife.
But did it ever occur to you that Christ, as our Lord and Savior, also is praying for you and for me? He goes before His heavenly Father with intercessions on our behalf. And He does so especially in times when we are weak; when we are most vulnerable or susceptible to Satan’s evil ploys!
Someone once said: “If I could hear Christ praying for me, I would not fear a thousand demons knawing at my heels!” Yes, when it comes to intercessory prayer, time and distance no longer are a factor. It is enough for us to know that our beloved Savior is praying for us at all times and in every way!
So, this morning I invite you to join the other eleven disciples as they walked alongside the Lord as He led them down to the Kidron Valley and up the sloping hillside to the Mount of Olives where Judas Iscarot would dare to betray our Rabboni with a kiss!
In this segment of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” you and the other disciples discover [that]: CHRIST PRAYS FOR YOUR PROTECTION. Secondly, CHRIST PRAYS FOR YOUR SANCTIFICATION. And finally, CHRIST PRAYS FOR YOUR UNITY WITH FELLOW BELIEVERS.
First of all, CHRIST PRAYS FOR YOUR PROTECTION (repeat).
In Hebrews 7:25 we read: “Consequently He (Christ) is able for all time to save those who approach God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Similarly, the apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” [Romans 8:34].
In verse 12 Jesus proclaims that all of His disciples, except for the “son of perdition” (referring to Judas), which the Father had given Him, have been guarded, or protected, by Him.
Jesus goes on to say that the world hates His disciples because they are not of this world, just as He Himself is not of this world. And yet, Jesus does not ask His Father to take them out of the world. Instead, He prays that you and the others will be kept from the evil one.
When I think of protection I’m reminded of an ancient ritual observed by many Native American Indian tribes. Before a young brave could achieve manhood in the eyes of the tribal counsel he had to endure one final initiation.
Since childhood the boy would have been taught by the elders of the tribe to hunt, to fish, and to track wild game. As the boy grew in stature he would have become adept with the use of a knife and a bow and arrow.
On the night of his initation the boy would be led away blindfolded to a remote dense forest where he would have to fend for himself alone in the woods. During his childhood the young brave would have experienced the relative safety of being among his fellow tribesmen. But now, perhaps for the first time in his life, he was alone with no one to protect him.
The sounds of the night echo an eerie feeling. The rustling of branches can frighten the stoutest of brave hearts especially when one begins imagining a wild animal on the prowl. Then, after a long and harrowing sleepless night, the dawn finally breaks through the glistening forest with rays of sunlight. And as he peers around the young brave discovers to his astonishment the towering figure of a man standing only a few feet away, armed with bow and arrow. It was the young warrior’s father who had kept watch over his son all through the night!
Dear ones, we must always remember that although God is invisible, God is also invincible! God is strong and mighty to save even the most fragile and weakest of hearts. We do not need to see Him in order to to know that He is with us … always!