Summary: We need to intercede desperately for people when God lays them on our heart.
We’ve been looking at our Lord’s response to His disciple’s request to teach them to pray. Jesus shared a parable with them from which we discover three important truths about what kind of praying we must do.
First, we learn that our prayers need to be daring. Daring in size, in stubbornness, and in sacrifice.
Second, we learn that our prayers need to be definite praying. Lifting up specific requests to God makes us more aware of our need of Him and more aware of His power, when He works in response to prayers.
This brings us to a final truth for us to glean from this parable.
Our prayers must be desperate!
This parable is a great illustration of intercessory prayer. This parable teaches us that we need to involve ourselves in desperate, prayer for the needs of others.
The man in this parable makes a request on behalf of another who was not in a position to ask for himself. The traveler was not in a position to make this request, because he did not possess the relationship with the neighbor that the man who made the request did. This is what intercessory prayer is - approaching God on behalf of another who is not in the position to approach God that I am in.
Intercession is offering up requests to God on behalf of another who would make the same request of God if they had sense enough to ask.
Intercessory prayer is different from agreeing prayer. Pray for someone else who is also praying for what I am asking is agreeing prayer (Matthew 18:19). But intercession involves praying for people who are not in a position in their relationship with God to make requests of Him. This means then, that intercessory prayer relates to my praying for those who are unbelieving and lost or unfaithful and backslidden. And we must pray for them with a sense of desperation! Why?
1. Because of our inescapable responsibility - v. 6
The man says to his neighbor, “a friend of mine . . . has come to me.” In other words, he had a personal responsibility that had come to him. In the same way, God will lay persons on our hearts for whom to pray.
God calls us to partner with Him in prayer. In His sovereignty, He has voluntarily linked Himself to human cooperation. God has bound Himself to the prayers of His children. He merges His working with man’s praying.
“The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD.” - Ezekiel 22:29-31 (NKJV)
In this passage we note several things:
A. God’s desire was to bless.
B. God’s law called for judgment.
C. God wanted to extend the opportunity for repentance.
D. God required an intercessor before he could extend His mercy.
E. Without an intercessor, God could not do what He wanted to do, but did what He had to do.
God has sovereignly decreed that He will postpone judgment and extend His mercy in response to our prayers. The degree to which God can move in the lives of others is determined, in part, by the degree to which we are willing to intercede for them as God directs us in prayer. This is why we must pray for others!
“‘I have seen these people,’ the LORD said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.’ But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” - Exodus 32:9-11; 14 (NIV)
Did Moses change God’s mind? Well, yes and no. Moses did not do anything that God, in His sovereignty, did not allow him to do. The people were about to reap what they had sown. It is a sovereignly instituted law of God that we “reap what we sow.”
“You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life.” - Galatians 6:7-8 (CEV)
Now, which direction do you think God wants people to go? He wants them to go in the direction of life, not death! Blessing us is what God wants to do. But if we do not turn to Him, trust in Him, and live for Him, God will do what he has to do - He will mete out judgment.