Faithlife Sermons

Making Intercession for All

Lent 2021 - Prayer  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  19:55
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One aspect of prayer that we all probably know quite well is intercession, praying for the needs of someone or for a situation. There are two things which I find amazing about the prayer of intercession. The first is that the creator of the universe, Almighty God Himself, not only allows us to come to Him with our concerns but encourages us to do so. The second thing that amazes me is how little we appreciate and take advantage of that great privilege.
Paul wrote to Timothy giving him these instructions:
1 Timothy 2:1 NIV84
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—
Timothy was a younger convert and co-worker with Paul. He has been left in Ephesus to strengthen the believers there in their faith. Paul says that first of all he urges that prayers be made for all people. This certainly indicates that prayer was a top priority for Paul. In almost every letter he wrote Paul says that he prays for his readers and asks that they pray for him.
One of the main concerns of the larger section which our passage is a part of is worship. Paul is speaking here not simply of personal, private prayer but corporate prayer.

What do we pray?

Paul uses four words for prayer here, probably not intending any sharp distinction between the words but collecting synonyms that effectively communicate the importance of prayer. Prayers of intercession begin when we recognize a need and acknowledge that only God can meet it.
Requests
An earnest or urgent specific request out of a sense of need, an asking, entreaty, supplication.
Len Sullivan relates his experience:
In the mid-1980s my family moved to northern Saskatchewan to start a church. As a church planter, part of my support was funded by the local mission. Most months were financially difficult.
One week in April, when the ground was still frozen and snow covered, we were down to a few dollars in the bank. Our usual reaction was to look for our own solution. This time, however, in a stroke of faith, I went before God and told him that we needed eggs, bread, and milk. I would wait on him.
That afternoon a man came to my little fix-it shop with a leaky teakettle. He said, “I know I could get another, but it’s my favorite kettle. Please fix it.” In minutes the job was done, and I didn’t even charge him for it. But he pulled out a $10 bill and insisted that I take it. It was enough to buy a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread.
As he left, with a bit of pride in my faith decision, I thanked God, to which he replied, “Don’t you wish you had asked for half a beef?”
Philippians 4:6 NIV84
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Prayers
A general term used for approaching God.
Intercession
Used in entering a king’s presence and submitting a petition to him on behalf of another.
As John Newton wrote in the hymn ‘Come my soul, thy suit prepare’:
Thou art coming to a King;
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.
Thanksgiving
Expressing gratitude, remembering to thank God for the answers’
In the Spirit
Ephesians 6:18 NIV84
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
In 1 Cor. Paul says he prays both with his mind and with his spirit.

Who do we pray for?

One another
Those in authority
All people
Not just those in our circle
Enemies, those who persecute us
Luke 6:28 NIV84
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
The larger context indicates that Paul especially had the salvation of others in mind. Paul prayed that his fellow Israelites would be saved (Rom. 10:1).

Why should we pray?

We are strongly encouraged to
Jesus said to ask, seek, knock
Parable of the unjust judge
James says we have not because we ask not
It pleases God
Demonstrates our faith in His love and faithfulness
Tells God we trust in Him to provide
Acknowledges that we need His help
It brings us the help we need
Hebrews 4:16 NIV84
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
It focuses our thoughts and hearts on the needs of others, takes them off ourselves
It makes a difference
Peter set free from prison (Acts 12:12)
Jeremiah 33:3 NIV84
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Moves us to action – we can’t for God to meet someone’s needs without being led to do what we can to help meet those needs.
Alan Carr writes, “We must acknowledge that our worship, our evangelism, our preaching, our devotional work, our public and private services, will all be anemic and empty unless they are bathed in prayer. Above all we do, before all we do, we are to be a people who prays!”
Will we obey the command to bring our requests to God? Will we take advantage of the privilege of asking for needs to be met?
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