Summary: Part 3 in a series on the purposes of the church. This deals with intercessory prayer.
A STRONGER CHURCH
Part 3—The “I” in Church
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Pastor Brian Matherlee
The first Sunday we talked about serving as a way to make room for others to come to the table.
Last week we talked about worship as an expression of our gratitude for having a place at the table.
Today, we talk about the point of having a place at the table. It’s not about the food. It’s about relationships. Knowing the host and having others to fellowship with.
When my family gathered around the table each night to eat it was a great time of fun. We shared about our days, laughed a lot, and generally had a great time. We always began with prayer. When my Dad prays today before a meal (I get called on the most…why do preachers always get called on to pray?) He always prays for the family—the ones present and the ones who are absent. He has such a concern for all the family.
We’re going to talk about praying today. But it would be good to have an idea of what prayer should initially look like. The family gathered around the table can give us some good pictures of what prayer should be:
• Good conversation should be normal conversation.
• Good conversation involves listening, asking, responding, stating.
• Good conversation is respectful.
These are good guides for prayer. The Bible has much to say about prayer. I have been specifically studying intercession (going between) for over two months now and have found 4 windows for more effective prayer.
I look through the first window and I understand…
1. The primacy of intercession
a. 1 Timothy 2:1, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”
i. The most neglected part of corporate worship and individual devotion is meaningful, fervent prayer.
ii. Prayers are offered up a great deal every day…yet even well meaning Christians can reflect back and see that these were “God help me out of this mess” cries. They were urgent, but this approach to prayer is lacking in power and effectiveness.
iii. Prayer can’t be relegated only to those we know and love. It is to be made for everyone. It is the missionary mindset.
b. Isaiah 59:15b-16, “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one to intervene.”
i. This refers particularly to Christ, but I wonder if God would be just as appalled today at the lack of those interceding?
ii. We are so self-focused. We have life myopia (nearsightedness).
At the second window I look in and see…
2. The picture of an intercessor
a. Job 16:20, “My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.
i. The friend of the broken hearted
ii. Broken hearted for the friend
iii. The intercessor is the go between of earth and heaven.
iv. The intercessor has a personal interest & stake in the cause.
b. Hebrews 7:25, “He always lives to intercede”.
iii. Not a quitter
c. James 5:16b, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
i. Effective intercessors are those who have lived right before God. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled. Your living impacts your praying, and your praying will impact your living.
At the third window, it’s dimly lit and I hear…
3. The prayer of an intercessor
a. Most of us learn by observing, practicing and then doing. I don’t think prayer is any different. We learned to pray around the table before meals by listening. We were taught prayers before bedtime and pass the pattern on to our children. In church we listen to those we admire for their prayer ability and when we are called on to pray we will first reach back for the pattern we were taught. The best example for prayer is Jesus. In John 17 we have the lengthiest recorded prayer of our Savior. We learn by watching him.
b. What did Jesus pray for?
i. Himself (17:1-5)
ii. Protection of His followers (v. 11)
iii. Full measure of joy (v.13)
iv. Sanctification (v. 17)
v. Unity (v. 23)
vi. Hope of eternity (v. 24)
vii. God’s love in their hearts (v. 26)
c. What do you need to pray for?
v. Fruit of the Spirit
vi. Hungry, hurting, oppressed
vii. The list can go on and on
At the fourth window I peak in and discover a beautifully woven rug with someone kneeling on it. It is….
4. The pattern of intercession
a. Sacrifice-time, comfort, food, etc.
b. Word-read it, meditate
c. Will-bend to God’s plans
d. Obedience-whatever God reveals, obey!