One of the many wonderfully exciting things about reading the bible is that you can read it with a hopeful expectancy that as you read, God will illuminate or bring to your attention a particular word or verse and though you may have read it a thousand times before, you will suddenly notice something that you have missed and you might even be shocked how you missed it before. A few days ago, when I was reading through the Gospel according to Luke, this was the verse that drew me in:
And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf – Luke 4:38
Those seven words, “and they appealed to him on her behalf”, struck me as I realised that the disciples, when telling Jesus about Simon’s mother-in-law, were actually praying and petitioning to the Lord Jesus Christ. They were interceding for her. They saw that she was in need and they came before God and asked him to heal her, they prayed for her. This was an example of intercessory prayer. After they had appealed for her, or after they had interceded for her, Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law.
Often we hear people wonder and ask what is the will of God? Aside from the fact that there are about four ‘types’ of will of God, it is fair to say that in some cases the will of God, in the sense of how does God want his people to live like or to do, is very clear. Many times the bible makes perfectly clear what is pleasing to God and in that, it shows us how God wills (as in how He calls us to live). Intercessory prayer is a part of the will of God. We read that praying for others, bringing their needs to God and appealing for them on their behalf is pleasing to God:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Here, there is special focus on praying for people in high, powerful positions such as politicians and governments. We can conclude therefore that it is the will of God for us to pray for all kinds of people, including governments and officials. With the turmoil that the world is facing today in so many ways, from immoral laws being enacted in the West to brutal violence occurring elsewhere such as in Syria, this command should be given more attention. Let us pray for those in high positions so that, as the bible tells us, people may live peaceful and quiet lives. Let us pray for wisdom for governments and for God in his mercy to defend the defenceless and to bring those responsible for violence to repentance. Let us pray for light to shine into the darkness.
The power of intercessory prayer is beautiful. Just like we saw earlier in Luke, intercessory prayer means you can bring the needs of someone else, even someone who might not know God, to your Heavenly Father. You can stand with those who are breaking in their weakness. You can pray for someone who is not able to pray for themselves, either due to a deep crisis that is causing them to ‘shut down’ or either because they cannot pray for themselves because they do not know Jesus, the Son of God.
Pray for others, always. It is pleasing to God our Saviour.