Life of Peter, by N.E. Rhodes Jr.– No. 14
INTERCESSORY PRAYER: A GIFT TO OTHERS
In our last article we pointed out that, according to Luke 22:31-32, the conversion of Simon Peter was largely a result of the intercessory prayer of Christ on his behalf. It would be hard for me to overstate how important I consider such prayer to be. It would be impossible for me to explain to all those reading this how deeply I long for their prayers. I cannot tell you how much I would appreciate it if you would pray for me daily. Give me as much time as you can spare. I know that you have your own needs to pray for, and your loved ones, and the sick, and the rulers of nations. Pray for them first, but then if you can spare me but thirty seconds, pray for me that half minute. Pray that I may become more perfect in love, more diligent in prayer, more humble, more self- denied, more self- controlled. Pray that I may be closer to God, more submissive, more surrendered. Pray that I may be freed from the grievous faults that others see in me which I have overlooked or excused simply because they are mine. Pray that when I preach God may speak through me and I may give myself as a channel for his word to touch lost souls rather than as a lecturer interested in my own reputation as a preacher.
Am I Being Selfish in Pleading for so Much Prayer?
Probably so. Do I want more than my fair share? Perhaps I do. If you haven’t time to pray for me then leave me out. But be sure that your lack of time arises from the fact that there are so many others you must pray for; not from the fact that there are so many games you have to play, so many newspapers you have to read, so many dollars you have to make, so many hours you have to sleep, so much smart conversation you have to indulge in, so much scheming you have to do, so much high sounding trash you have to read, so many TV programs you have to watch, so many gossip sessions you have to engage in. In other words, if you can’t find time for me in your prayers because you can’t find an hour a day for prayer then you are just not praying enough.
Jesus went out to the mountain to pray (as his custom was). Prayer was an habitual thing with Jesus. On one occasion he prayed all night. Some of you have fished all night, played all night, worked all night, read all night, set up and talked all night, tossed and tumbled on your bed all night; but have you ever prayed all night?
You have awakened early in the morning to go to work, to take a walk, to make a trip; have you ever got up early to pray?
You have taken off a week to go on a vacation tour, to visit relatives, to rest, to have a physical checkup; have you ever taken off a week for prayer, to visit with God, to rest the soul, to have a spiritual checkup?
Do You Believe in Prayer?
Do you believe in intercessory prayer? Do you think it really will accomplish something? I have said it was Christ’s prayer for Peter that made a major difference in his conversion. It was the prayer on the cross that played a large part in the conversion of so many on the day of Pentecost. It was the prayer of Moses that saved Israel in the wilderness. It was the prayer of Abraham that saved Lot from Sodom. It was the prayer of a father that got a devil cast out of his boy at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration. It was the prayer of Lydia and others that brought Paul to Macedonia.
If you could, by working just two extra hours a day, make $10,000.00 this year and give it all to the church, you would still serve the church better by spending that two extra hours in prayer. Money without prayer will destroy a church; so will high pressure programs, and scholarly preaching, and entertaining social events. Without prayer all these things will become corruptive.
How to Find Time for Pray
If you want your life to be filled with such power and glory and radiance as you never dreamed possible start wresting from unessential activities time for more prayer. If you have been sleeping seven hours, start sleeping six and a half and use the half hour gained in prayer. If you have been reading whatever you read an hour a day take a half hour of this time for prayer. Sacrifice a half hour of your TV time for it will amaze you how quickly you can pick up a couple of extra hours a day for intercessory prayer. That extra time will change your life and everything that touches your life. You will discover more and more unessentials that can be sacrificed. Within a few months you may discover that you have as much as three hours a day for prayer. Make a prayer list. Put your loved ones down first. Then put down the names of your church leaders and the rulers of nations. Put down the names of any sick or otherwise unfortunate people you know. Put down the names of the preachers you know. Put down the names of sinners who do not know the Lord. Put down the names of harassed mothers with problems. Put down the names of young people you know who are facing the crisis that youth must face. Save space for people who request your prayers and when they do request it put them at the top of your list.
What Prayer Would Do for Us
If all who are reading this would follow the above suggestion, the church within a year would have undergone a change past believing. If just a few of you would do it there is hope. Whenever you pray for anyone pray that they may learn to love prayer and to take time for it.
When you start praying like this, people are probably going to call you a fanatic. They are going to argue that you should spend more time doing and less time praying. They are wrong. I have done more in fifteen minutes after an hour of prayer than I have done in five hours after five minutes of prayer. If I try to do personal work without prayer, I can work hard all day, make ten calls, and nothing of lasting value comes of it. But I have spent an hour in prayer and then made one fifteen minute call and seen a soul saved. I have studied three days on one sermon and then get up and flop, but I have prayed two days and gotten up a sermon the third and seen men really moved by the preaching. I have met with church leaders and argued for two hours with nothing accomplished. But I have met with them and prayed for one hour and seen things accomplished without any argument at all.
Is there Something Wrong with the Church Today?
Yes, I think there is. We are just not praying enough. If the church ever gets to praying as it should nothing will be impossible. We are not yet through with this subject but we are out of space. We shall have more to say about it in the next article.