intercede

I’m reading through 1 Samuel now. Actually, if you want to be technical about it, I’m reading through Genesis, 1 Samuel, Job, Proverbs, Isaiah, Matthew and Ephesians now, in what could be classified quite convincingly as a mild case of spiritual A.D.D. In tonight’s sitting, Abraham rescued Lot from the four kings who went out against Sodom, Saul became king over Israel, Job told off his friends for insinuating that he was less than perfect in the sight of God, Solomon told me to quit worrying and trust in the Lord, Isaiah reminded me that the Lord is not angry forever, and John the Baptist was beheaded.

I had one of those “wow” moments in 1 Samuel tonight–the kind where the words seemed to hurtle themselves off the page and I found myself wondering who snuck into my apartment and inserted a page in my Bible with a new part of the story that I had never seen before. In 1 Samuel 12, Samuel confronts the people of Israel for their sin of rejecting the Lord as their ruler in favor of having a king (Saul) like all other nations. The power of his words brought conviction (or perhaps merely terror–although the two do seem to come together at times) to the hearts of the people, because in verse 19 they beg Samuel to pray to the Lord on their behalf that He would not kill them for their sins.

What struck me followed in verse 23 when Samuel replied,

“…far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.” (emphasis added)

Wow.

In the Old Testament, Abraham prayed on behalf of Lot that God would spare the city of Sodom, and Moses prayed on behalf of the Israelites that God would spare their lives when they turned against the Lord to worship idols. In the New Testament, Jesus commanded us to pray for those who persecute us, and Scripture tells us that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding to the Father on our behalf. As a result, we have at least a vague notion that praying for other people is a good idea.

However, I wonder if we truly grasp the gravity of the role to which we are called on the earth. 1 Samuel 12:23 says to me that those of us who know the will of the Father and seek to walk in the power of spiritual leadership–whether as a forerunner like Abraham, a quasi-political leader like Moses, or a prophet like Samuel–have a divine responsibility to pray on behalf of others. With position comes responsibility. With an ear tuned and sensitive to the voice of the Lord comes a mandate to walk in humility and use the gift of hearing to serve others.

I wonder how much the face of the church would change if we all believed that we sin against God when we do not interpose ourselves between His judgment and the brokenness of our neighbors. I wonder how much He would soften our hearts toward our brothers and sisters if we truly began to grasp that He delights in mercy, that He is infinitely patient, and that He holds an inexhaustible supply of tender love for all of humanity. I wonder how much easier it would be to forgive the offenses we hold against others if we realized how serious about this He is.

Just a thought.

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3 Responses to intercede

  1. Joe says:

    I’ve been doing a Bible study on J.C. Ryle’s “A Call To Prayer” and have been thinking lately about intercession for others. I think you hit on something important here in that we need to realize the responsibility we’ve been given to intercede on behalf of others – and that “others” is not just friends and family. Many of us feel a sense of guilt that we don’t “pray as we ought” but rarely do we view that in light of the verse you mentioned from 1 Samuel above, and that it is sin when we don’t intercede on behalf of those around us.

    Thank you for sharing this. I love reading these kinds of insights from Scripture…keep ’em coming 🙂

    Blessings –

  2. Chrystal says:

    I’ve never heard of the book–is it one you’d recommend? Intercession is so vitally important. I know too often I’ve reduced my prayer life to ticking down a list of the things I need instead of seeking first to minister to God’s heart and then to pray for those around me in the up-out-in model. So often I’ve neglected to pray for my governmental leaders, other churches in my city…even my own family; I let the stone walls in my own personal life blind me to the big picture. God is looking for friends who will carry His passions, His motives, His heart over their own. I long for the power of the prophets of old, but haven’t wanted to pay the sacrifices they paid. How humbling to remember that Hosea married a prostitute and called his children “unloved,” Daniel was constantly jostled between esteem and rejection, and Jeremiah was so wrapped up in God’s emotions that it’s hard to tell where God’s words leave off and his begin….

    I’m rambling….thanks for your comment.

  3. Joe says:

    “I long for the power of the prophets of old, but haven’t wanted to pay the sacrifices they paid.”

    How true that is in my own life as well. I think of names like Moses and Jeremiah and feel they were on a special level that is so far above mine – meanwhile, they had doubts of their own at the beginning of their ministries and practically begged God to find someone else to do what He’d called them to do. And look at how they interceded for their people after that. Great examples. More evidence of how we need to keep pressing into His Word everyday and seeking after that power you mention.

    The book I mentioned by J.C. Ryle is actually from a larger work called “Practical Religion”. You can find it cheap on Amazon or read it free online at http://gracegems.org/Ryle/practical_religion.htm. Quite possibly the best book on the Christian life I’ve ever read. Anything by J.C. Ryle is worth reading, if you have the time.

    Blessings to you Chrystal –

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