Prayer – Following Paul’s Example
"Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ...
I have not stopped praying for you." (Ephesians 1:15-16)
"...because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore
He is able to save completely (utterly; permanently; fully) those who come to
God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them." (Heb. 7:24-25)
"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (I Cor. 11:1)
Paul the Apostle was a man God wanted the rest of us to learn from. Perhaps as much as any Christian, he entirely devoted his heart and life to the purposes for which God leaves us here after He saves us... the purposes for which His Son came into the world.
Now looking to Paul as an example gives us much to think about, because we have so much information about him in the record of scripture. And one example he set for us was a powerful prayer practice I want to share with you this morning.From his words to the people at Ephesus (above), we discover that when Paul knew people who came to Christ - whether in one place or another - he quickly set himself to intercede for them, and committed to this, it appears, for some considerable season.
Now when we first reflect on this, we probably wonder, "Why, Paul? Why, did you focus a portion of your prayer energies on the already converted? After all, is not the great issue now settled once a person has yielded his / her heart to Jesus, receiving Him as Lord and Savior? Would it not be better to keep zeroing in on the multitudes of unsaved people out there in your prayers, since, after all, they are heading for Hell?"
This a very good question. Yet when you think about the issues more fully, the practice makes PERFECT sense. What do we call new Christians? "Babes" in Christ, right? How much expectation do we put on "babes" in regard to their growth and development? We do everything for them in their earliest days, right? This seems to be the point of Paul's practice.
As "babes in Christ," Paul knew new Christians have the Holy Spirit, but do not know yet about what are the factors in experiencing the power of His priceless presence. So another of Paul's practices from which we should take careful note is what counselhe gave new Christians. We don't have to guess, because he told Timothy plainly,"I urge, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people" (I Tim. 2:1). So the first thing Paul guided new Christians to do was get praying! But while they are learning this, Paul also prayed FOR THEM!
Now think of that! You can pray FOR (on behalf; in place of; in lieu of) another personpraying FOR himself, and it will benefit just as if it was their own prayer. This is one of the marvels of our position in Christ. We are a "royal priesthood" (I Pet. 2:9). We all hold the office of 'priest' in the work of God. And as such, we can stand in the gap between other people and God, bringing help and blessing from God into their lives by our intercession for them. That is too cool for words! What a privilege! What a power! What a gift we can give!
Well, what do new Christians needs from God? Paul knew. And He went to God on their behalf that they might have it. Here are some things Paul prayed for new Christians...
That by the Spirit, they would KNOW GOD better (1:17)
That by the Spirit, they would KNOW THEIR HOPE and their INHERITANCE they now have in Christ (1:18)
That by the Spirit, they would know the KNOW THE POWER they have atwork in them (1:19).
Wow, what kind of difference would it make to a new convert (and, in fact, to an old
one!) to truly come to KNOW these things! How would that affect their lives... their
attitudes... their focus... their service to God???
Now as I wrap up, let me end on a word of application. Who are some new Christians we know about at Calvary Chapel who we could pray for to know these things so we can follow Paul's example who followed Jesus' example? How about OUR...
Did you hear their testimonies last Sunday? Was that awesome are what? Well, do we love them? Do we want them all that God has for them in Him? Since I know the answer is a resounding, ABSOLUTELY!, then now we know the #1 thing we can do for them don't we?!!
Hey, let's start today! In fact, how about RIGHT NOW! Can you drop everything for a few minutes now or real soon, and give thanks to God for the precious and powerful work He did in our teens last week, and then, intercede for them, asking our God and Father and theirs to give them, by the Holy Spirit, each of the (3) things Paul prayed for the new converts in His life? LET'S GO FOR IT!!!
'Til we finish the race,
Your brother, Mike