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Praying for People that You Love

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(9/2) A man was running in the jungle trying to get away from a firece lion. As he ran he prayed, "O God, please make this lion a Christian." Just then he noticed that he wasn't being chased any longer. As he looked back he saw the lion on his back knees, front paws folded and lips moving as if he were praying. Overcome with curiosity the man came closer and heard the lion say, "And Lord, bless this food, for which I am exceedingly grateful."

If I were to ask you, what does God want us, as His children, to do, chances are that you would respond with, "Read your Bible, Pray every day, and Tell others about Jesus." Prayer is a major discipline of the Christian life. We noticed a couple of weeks ago that it was a major part of the life of our Lord Jesus. He would go to solitary places and commune with His Father, often for hours at a time. It was He that said, "Men should always pray and not faint or lose heart, or get discouraged, or quit (Luke 18:1). God says, to call on Him and He will answer and show us great and awesome things (Jer. 33:3). God also says, to pray about everything, to cast all of our care on Him (Phil. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6). Prayer is a mighty weapon that we use to little. Prayer is something we emphasize the most and perhaps, we do the least. I heard Al Roker tell the Mayor of Slidell, La., that they were in their thoughts and prayers, and I wondered if that wasn't just a sentiment. Many are not comfortable praying or praying in public. Prayer is not a means of acquiring or getting stuff, it is the way in which we wage war on our enemy and seek to accomplish God's will on earth.

Samuel Chadwick, a famous Methodist preacher of 100 years ago, said, "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray."

My goal in this short series is to teach you how to pray, by using the lessons of the Bible. At the end of September we will return to a study of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. So far, we have seen:

The Importance and Necessity of Prayer for bringing Revival, "If my people, who are called by my name..." (2 Chron. 7:14) and we will look at this again on September 23rd.

The Pattern of Prayer given to us by Jesus. We call it the Lord's Prayer because it is His pattern that He instructed us to pray by.

The Key Conditions for Powerful Praying. Clean, in His name, His will, obedient, consistent, concerned with His honor, certain of His willingness.

This morning I want to to teach you how to pray for others by showing you how Paul prayed for those whom he loved. Next week, we will look at When Jesus Prayed for You (John 17). We know that right now, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and is interceding on our behalf. Isn't that encouraging to know? We often have people ask us to pray for them. They could be missionaries, pastors, friends, people from church and others, or we ask people to pray for us. We are instructed in the Bible to pray for each other and to be involved in intercessory prayer. Look at 1 Timothy 2:1. The word, intercessions or petitions, means to identify with and implies feelings of sympathy, or compassion; it means to fall in line with, with a desire to help or to get involved with. When you intercede for someone, you want to help them and you seek the best for them. That is what Jesus does for us and what He wants us to do for others.

This morning I want to show you how Paul interceded for people. My goal for this is two-fold; first, I want this to be a model for how you can pray for others. Second, I want this to be a reminder of what God wants to be done in your life. If he prayed these things for others, and God had them recorded and passed down to us, it is a better than good chance that He wants these things to be done in our own lives. Wouldn't you agree?

Paul may have prayed for people as he journeyed. I like to do that when I drive now. Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see me talking and there is no one visible in the car with me. yet with the Blue Tooth and other technology that isn't really to unusual anymore is it? Paul must have had one long prayer list. He told the Churches in Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, Colossee, Thessalonica, & Philippi that He prayed incessantly for them. He told Timothy, and Philemon the same thing, and we can only guess that there were many more names on His prayer list.

We can assume that when He prayed he prayed for their specific needs. He, Himself gave specific requests for prayer asking for open doors of ministry and the right words to say to lead people to Jesus. He would ask people to pray that he would have opportunities to visit certain churches so He could share blessings with them, If you know of specific personal needs or desires for the glory of God, pray for them. But most of the time when Paul prayed, it wasn't for temporary blessings or physical things. He usually prayed for people's spiritual maturity as He told the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 13:9, "And this also we pray, that you may be made complete," that is, spiritually mature. Primarily using Ephesians, chapters 1 and 3 let me show you 10 things that Paul prayed for, as he interceded for the people He loved and how we should pray for those whom we love.

Your Salvation - Romans 10:1- My dear friend Bob Kimmel is going to talk more about this in two weeks, but, Paul would plead with God for your soul. He would ask that the Holy Spirit not let you alone; that day and night, in your dreams or in your circumstances, or in your conscience that you might hear the voice of God and bend the knees of your heart and receive Jesus. He might ask that God knock you to the ground, swallow you by a big fish or put you in a pigpen until you looked up an received His gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal life. He would have pleaded with God until He knew you were safe in the arms of God. Friends, do you have a most wanted list of lost friends and family that you pray for? Do you plead with God for your children and grandchildren, your dearest friends and neighbors? Paul even offered to be accursed if God would redeem His countrymen (Rom. 9:1-3). He wanted his loved ones to be saved.

Your Knowledge of God -Eph. 1:17- "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him," Do you know God? Do the people that you pray for know God? I am not asking if you, or they, know about God, but do they know God? If they do, if you do, how well do you know God? He wants you to know Him deeply amd intimately. Paul is asking that the Holy Spirit that indwells you would reveal the person and character of God to you so that you would know this God intimately. Many people are in churches today and they know about God but don't know Him. They don't know His character or His heart. Mrs. Romney gave a speech the other night in which she told us that she knows the character and heart of her husband. Do you know what God is really like? What He wants to do in and through you? Do you know what He would like to accomplish in a partnership with you? Listen to Jeremiah 9:23-24,"Thus says the Lord ?Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,? says the Lord. Paul's personal desire was to have this kind of intimacy with God. Philippians 3:10 says, " that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." Oh brothers and sisters, pray that those that you love will really know God deeply and personally like two people that have been married a long time. Do you know God deeply and intimately?

Your Hope - Eph. 1:18a -"the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling," What is your heart fixed on and looking forward to? "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory"(Col. 3:1-4). Paul wants you to be focused on the hope that Christ has called you to. When your eyes were opened to the truth of God's word and you became a follower of Jesus you were given the assurance of life with Him in the place that He has prepared. It is there that your rest, your riches, and your reward will be given to you. Our hope isn't in the temporary things of this life. They will forever disappoint you. 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 3:1-3; Heb 6:18; 2 Cor. 4:16ff; What is your heart fixed on, the temporary things of this world or in the hope that Jesus has called us to with Him in heaven forever? Do you ever pray that your loved ones hearts will be fixed on their real hope?

Your Inheritance -Eph. 1:18b -"what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints," This may surprise you but this isn't talking about your treasure in heaven but is to remind us how precious and special you are to your Father in Heaven. You are God's prize possession. He was willing to give up His Son that you might be His (cp. 1:12; and 2:6-7). He is glorified and honored in you. Now it is true that you will share in all that is His forever and this inheritance is assured to us; that these is treasure in Heaven to look forward to, but Paul wants you and the people he loved to know that God's glory will come through you all, His treasure is in His children. You were made to glorify and honor God. God's wealth is invested in His children that honor Him.

Your Power - Eph. 1:19ff - "and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power..." In Romans 8, He identifies this power as being the Holy Spirit of God that is in you. Paul wants those that he loves to realize what they are and what thay are capable of accomplishing. Did not our Lord tell us that we would receive power after the Holy Spirit would be given to us? Paul isn't praying for those he loves to receive power but that they would know the power they already have in God's Spirit. This is mountain moving power, world changing power, power to serve and do things for God that we never dreamed possible. In Ch. 3:20-21, he will give a benediction that says, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Do you pray that those you love would realize what they are capable of when they yield themselves to God? Do you know what you are capable of? In chapter 3 Paul reveals more of what He prays for when he prays for those he loves.

Your Inner Strength -Eph. 3:14-16 -"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man," As Paul prayed for those he loved he prayed that they would have inner strength. Whereas this may be similiar to the one we just mentioned, I think that Paul was thinking of the strength people need to say, "No," to temptation and, "Yes," to God's will; the strength that they would need to endure tough times that they would have to go through. Samson was a man of immense outer strength, but he could not control his inner passions. Paul was referring to the strength it took to trust God when it didn't make sense; the patience to wait on God and not to try to solve your problems in their own strength. Do you pray that those that you love would have such inner strength?

Your Heart and Christ's Home - Eph. 3:17a -"that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." It is true that His Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of all who believe, but this is desiring that Christ would be at home in your lives; that is, He may settle down and feel at home in your hearts. Is your life a place that Jesus is comfortable in? Years ago Robert Munger wrote a little essay called, My Heart, Christ's Home. In it, he compared his heart to a house and each area of his life corresponds with a room in the house. Here is a question, when guests come to your home, do you take them to every room, even letting them look in your basement, attic, or closets? Who are you comfortable enough with to let them have free range of your home? Do you try to confine Jesus to just the living room or do let Him in to every room of your life? What rooms do you need to clean up before you would be comfortable letting Jesus in there? It is speaking of having a clean heart. Has Christ been given a home in your heart by faith? When Paul prayed for those that he loved, he prayed that Christ would be at home in every area of their lives.

Your Love - Eph. 3:17b - "that you, being rooted and grounded in love...," Rooted and grounded refer to being firmly established, like a tree with deep roots or a building on a strong foundation. The love here, is the love that you display and give. It is your love for God. Paul wants you to love God with all your heart. It is your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christ loved you. It is your love for strangers that need your help. It is your love for your enemies, that leads you to forgive and to pray for them. It is a love that is rooted and grounded in God. John says that, "we love because He first loved us," (1 John 4:19). Paul would pray that those he loved would be stedfast in their love. Are you stedfast in your love? Has God's love for you rooted and grounded you in love?

Your Comprehension of God's Love -Eph. 3:18-19a -"may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge," Paul wanted the people that he loves to be overwhelmed with the love of Jesus. This is a love that in one sense is beyond knowing, yet by God's Spirit we can appreciate it. It is a love that sought the highest good that is possible for us. It is a love that would suffer greatly for us. It is a love that sought after us to know Him, like the Hound of Heaven. It is a love that considers us precious to Him. It is a love that wants to share all He has with us. It is a love that has provided a home for us with Him. It is a love that never stops forgiving and giving grace. It is a love that cares enough to discipline us when we need it. It is a love that provides for our needs. It is a love that tells us to cast all our care on Him because He cares for us. The sense here is that Paul wanted those that he loved to never forget or lose sight of the magnitude of the love of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Only those who are rooted in love can comprehend this love.

Your Fullness of God - Eph. 3:19b -"that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Paul wanted those that he loved to be so focused on God in them that they would become like Him (Rom. 8:29). God's goal for your life is that you would be like Jesus; that you would have His love, His grace, His heart, His desire. In 4:13 Paul says, that God wants us to be filled with Christ; in 5:18, he wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit; that is, that every thing we say and do would be because of His influence in our lives. He prays that we would be like Jesus in all of our character and conduct.

There you have it, that is how Paul prayed for those He loved. If there were specific needs known, Paul would ask for them, but consistently, he prayed for their spiritual growth and condition. As you pray for revival in your family and your community and intercede for those you love, use Paul's prayers as your guide. Let me close by asking you:

Are you saved? Have you received Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

  • Do you know God personally, deeply, and intimately?
  • Are you focused on your future with God or the temporary things of now?
  • Do you realize how precious you are to God?
  • Do you know what you are capable of? Look at 3:20-21.
  • Do you use your inner strength to deal with temption, trials, etc.?
  • Are you comfortable with Christ in every area of your life?
  • Are you rooted in love for God and others?
  • Do you comprehend how much Christ loves you?
  • Are you becoming more like Jesus in every area of life?

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman