July 19: Intercession – Praying for the Persecuted

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Hebrews 13:3

As we look at our final aspect of intercessory prayer, we are looking at praying for persecuted brethren.

If you haven’t seen The Printing, it’s a great movie on the persecuted church in the former Soviet Union. Another film on the persecuted church under the Inquisition is Flame in the Wind.

Persecuted believers are just like us – they’re not superChristians – they are merely those whom God has chosen to suffer for His name!

And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Acts 5:41

How can we pray for persecuted believers?

We can learn about them and pray for them that they remain faithful to Jesus!

Our prayers can go where we cannot…there are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray

Brother Andrew

Another way is to pray for boldness for ourselves to be faithful.

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Philippians 1:20

At the same point we want to make sure we’re not glorifying martyrdom. God calls us to endure persecution, but not to seek it out!

At the end of a youth camp, teens were telling what God had done in their lives at the campfire service. One teen said that they were so excited they’d be willing to die for Jesus. Another teen echoed the statement. Soon a stream of teens repeated the thought. The camp speaker came to the microphone, and said they missed the point of the messages. “God doesn’t want you to die for Jesus, until you’re willing to live for Jesus.”

Let’s pray that those God has called to pay the ultimate price can be faithful, but pray for faithfulness for those also to “die daily”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

July 18: Intercession – Praying for enemies!

We’ve looked at praying for those in the ministry, for our brethren, but did you know Jesus told us to pray for our enemies!

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

They don’t like you. They mistreat you. They took the promotion that you wanted. They have the position you tried to get. They leave you out of their cliques. They give you that look.

Yet Jesus said we need to love them – and pray for them!

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

Επηρεαζοντων from επι against, and Αρης Mars, the heathen god of war. Those who are making continual war upon you, and constantly harassing and calumniating you.

Adam Clarke

How can we pray for our enemies? Again Adam Clarke has a great analysis:

Pray for them – This is another exquisitely reasonable precept. I cannot change that wicked man’s heart; and while it is unchanged he will continue to harass me: God alone can change it: then I must implore him to do that which will at once secure the poor man’s salvation, and contribute so much to my own peace.

Adam Clarke

July 17: Intercession – Brethren, Pray for us

Brethren, pray for us.

1 Thessalonians 5:25

As we continue looking at the hour of prayer – we are looking at interceding for others.

Sometimes we think of praying for people as a Christian culture thing (maybe a 15% chance I’ll pray for you). But Paul concludes both letters to the Thessalonians with a request for prayer.

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

2 Thessalonians 3:1

In Hebrews, the epistle ends with a similar request for prayer:

Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

Hebrews 13:18

Colossians see Paul again asking for prayer:

Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

Colossians 4:3

There are a couple people who ask me regularly how they can pray for me – they are an incredible blessing to me – and I am truly grateful for those who pray for me.

I’ve heard a past governor of Wisconsin share that one of the most touching things he ever heard on the campaign trail was people telling him, “I’m praying for you.”

Prayer changes things – so please pray for others!

July 16: Intercession – Praying for others

As we continue looking at the hour of prayer – let’s focus on interceding for others

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Romans 1:9

Paul writes to the Romans that he prayed for them continually in his prayers. Who’s on your prayer list?

Perhaps start by browsing the VCY Prayer Line – and see what needs God is laying on your heart to pray for.

Perhaps instead of discarding the Wednesday night prayer bulletin, keep it by your bed and pray for the requests throughout the week.

Perhaps when someone tells you their troubles, instead of just saying “I’ll pray for you” – make a note in your smartphone or notebook.

Perhaps when a relative shares the family tree and invites you to their Ancestry.com account they’ve been working on – add your family tree to your prayer list and work through the “branches” as you pray for your family.

Perhaps use the school, church, or work directory as a start – and maybe ask some of the people – “Anything I can pray for you for?”

Imagine what it must have been like to be a member of First Church of Rome, to receive a letter from the Apostle Paul – and you read:

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Romans 1:9

Now – what if God wanted to use your prayers like He did Pauls?

July 15: Hour of Prayer – Intercession

As we continue our hour of prayer, we are entering a new segment on the clock – intercession!

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

1 Timothy 2:1-2

Interestingly Paul tells the young preacher Timothy, to begin by praying for rulers. In America we have elected officials – and while many people at church enjoy complaining about the president or the governor or the mayor, there are many more elected officials we have to pray for. Today’s PEP is a good one to bookmark to re-acquaint you with the people who can affect your life.

Federal Executive: The President, Vice President and the Cabinet – a total of 24 officials who have regulatory power to affect your life.

Federal Legislative: Although there are 435 congressmen, and 100 senators, only three of them are directly in line of representation to you.

Federal Judicial: Yes we know about the 9 members of the Supreme Court, but there are also 179 federal Appellate judges in 12 districts. Not to mention 673 federal district judges (find your local judge).

Before we cover more of the elected officials – check out the helpful website from Public Servants’ Prayer – they can connect you to your state and federal elected officials.

Many states provide a system to show you all of your elected officials – such as Wisconsin’s MyVote.WI.gov . It’s amazing how many people at the federal, state, county, municipal, and school board levels represent us (and can tax us!). However, take some time today to pray for those in authority over us!

July 13: Watchman on the Wall

We’re on the “25th” minute of the hour of prayer as we look at what it means to watch.

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

Ezekiel 3:17

Ezekiel talks about the watchman and his duties. Again this is not a “security monitor” – this is a security guard. Perhaps you’ve seen this TV commercial:

I’m not a security guard – I’m a security monitor.

God doesn’t want us to be passive – He wants us to be an active warning to our community. Let’s take time to ask God how we can watch – and pass on the warning that we are given!

[17] Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
[18] When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
[19] Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Ezekiel 3

July 12: The Watch of the LORD

We’re looking at how we can spend an hour in prayer, and studying how we can watch in prayer:

There’s a phrase that’s found only once in the Bible:

But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 23:6

Jehoiada was the high priest – he was raising Joash (similar to Samuel) within the temple. Now was time to crown the legitimate heir to the throne of David against the wicked grandmother Athaliah. This was treason against the presumed monarch Athaliah, and those involved could die. Benson’s commentary lends us some light on this topic:

Let them stand in their court to prevent and oppose any person that shall endeavour violently to break into the house, to seize upon the king, or to oppose the present work, which he expected Athaliah and her accomplices would do.

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/benson/2_chronicles/23.htm

The people could not enter into the holy places – that was reserved for the priests and the ministering Levites, but the people were there to stand, be vigilant, be counted with the priests and Levites, support them, and be ready in case they were called upon to assist in the battle.

What a great picture of watching in prayer – taking time to ask God to make us aware of our situation – and not just our situation but our pastor, neighbors, friends, relatives, classmates, churchgoers, coworkers, government leaders (especially at the local level – yes the President needs your prayers, but your city councilman and state legislators shouldn’t be forgotten either!). Ask God to show you how you can be used by Him to intercede. You may not be the one going thru the difficulties, or serving on a foreign mission field, or pastoring a church. But you can stand and watch in prayer, keeping the watch of the LORD!

July 11: Watching for Wisdom

We’re continuing in our “hour of prayer” as we look at watching. We’ve learned that there is an attentiveness aspect to watching. However as we look in the Old Testament, we’ll see it’s essential for gathering wisdom:

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Proverbs 8:34

Wisdom is speaking in Proverbs 8, and we see that she is crying in the gates (Proverbs 8:3). Wisdom has been around since the beginning (Psalm 104:24). And God wants us to be wise (Proverbs 8:33).

How can we grow in wisdom? Can we get a blessing from God? Let’s look again at Proverbs 8:34.

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Proverbs 8:34

Notice it involves:

  • Receiving (“Blessed is the man that heareth me”)
  • Repetition (“watching daily at my gates”)
  • Respect (“waiting at the posts of my doors”)

Make sure your eyes and ears are open in your time with God to receive what He says. Make it a daily practice to be at the gates of wisdom. And make it a priority – we’re often waiting at the posts of television, or a new smartphone game. Let’s give our respect, our priority to gaining wisdom!

July 10: Robert Muray M’Cheyne on Watching

As we’re continuing in the hour of prayer – we’re looking at Jesus’ command to “Watch.”

Peter reiterates this command:

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

1 Peter 4:7

If you’re like me, this idea of watching is a foreign concept. We saw yesterday that this is more than a passive absorption of television, rather Jesus calls us to be sober and vigilant. Peter is extending this idea – and the Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne has some advice for us in The Christian’s Daily Companion:

Observe the duties of a believer. “Be sober, and watch unto prayer.”

(i) Be sober. Let nothing dim the eye that is looking on eternal realities. Let nothing engross the heart that is already given away to Christ. Sit loose to the dearest objects in this world. Brainerd mentions an instance of a poor Indian woman who, after her conversion, was resigned to the divine will in the most tender points. She was asked, “What if God should take away your husband from you, how do you think you could bear that?”. She replied, “He belongs to God and not to me. He may do with him just as He pleases.” An old divine says, “Build your nest upon no tree here; for you see God hath sold the forest to death, and every tree whereon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may flee, and mount up, and build upon the rock, and dwell in the holes of the rock”.

Be sober in the griefs of this world. Weep as though you wept not. This world is the vale of tears. It is a Bochim [Hebrew word in Judges 2:1,5, meaning “the place of weepers”]. There are always some mourning. No sooner is the tear dried up on one cheek than it trickles down another. Still the believer should be sober and chastened in his grief. Weep not for those that died in the Lord; they are not lost, but gone before. The sun, when it sets, is not lost; it is gone to shine in another hemisphere. And so have they gone to “shine like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father”. Weep not for those who died out of the Lord. When Aaron lost his two sons, “Aaron held his peace”. Weep not over bodily pains and losses. Murmur not. Be sober. If you are in Christ, these are all the hell you will ever bear. When we win to the presence of Jesus, all our griefs shall look like children’s griefs. A day in His banqueting house will make you “forget your poverty, and remember your misery no more”.

Sit loose to this world’s enjoyments. Be sober. In a little while you will be at your Father’s table above, drinking the wine new with Christ, you will meet with all your brothers and sisters in the Lord, you will have pure joy in God through ceaseless ages. Do not be much taken with the joys that are here. If ever you are so much engrossed with any enjoyment here that it takes away your love for prayer, or for your Bible, or that it would frighten you to hear the cry, Behold the Bridegroom cometh—then your heart is “overcharged”. You are abusing this world.

(ii) Watch. “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Nothing is more difficult than to watch. We are naturally like him who said, “a little more sleep, and a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep”.

One thing is essential to all true watching—the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18). Take out the beam that is in thine own eye. Not only abstain from dimming the spiritual eye, but dear it. what shall I watch? Watch the work of grace in thine own soul. Has God cast the seed into the field of thine heart? Then see if the blade appear, or the ear, or the full corn in the ear. Has your soul been made a vineyard of red wine? Then say often to your Beloved, “Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appears, and the pomegranates bud forth” (Song 7:12).

Watch thine enemies. You have enemies within, and enemies without. Many seek to take thy crown. “Cast all your care upon the Lord, for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Watch the Redeemer’s cause. The disciples slept while Jesus’ body sweated drops of blood. Many disciples do the same in our day. Lie not on a bed of ivory while Joseph is in affliction. Be one of the “watchmen over the walls of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 62). Be one of those who watch for the morning.

(iii) Watch unto prayer. Some watch and pray not. Right watching quickens prayer. Seest thou the wants, corruptions, infirmities, backslidings, temptations of thine own spirit, the heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, yea, unsearchably wicked to human eye. Watch unto prayer. Let the eye look within, and then above. Seest thou the cause of Jesus bleeding, Israel turning back before their enemies, plants of the Lord’s planting withering, many walking no more with Jesus, Ephesus losing her first love, Laodicea turning lukewarm, ministers fainting in the day of adversity, Jonah fleeing from the presence of the Lord, the hands of Moses weary, Amalek prevailing against Israel? “Watch unto prayer.”

Seest thou a spring-time of love, Immanuel coming over the mountains of Bether, winter departing, flowers appearing, showers of blessing falling? “Watch unto prayer.” Soon Scotland’s day of grace will be ended. “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain.” Hearest thou Ephraim bemoaning himself, the dry bones of Israel shaking, saints loving her stones? Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; never hold thy peace day nor night, give Him no rest—”Watch unto prayer.”

July 9: Hour of Prayer – Jesus calls us to Watch

We’re going back to the “Hour of Prayer” and starting with minute 21 – Watching.

The challenge we have today is that certain words trigger certain contexts. When we hear the word “watch” we think “TV” and we assume we can relax and enjoy. What did Jesus mean by the word “watch”?

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me

Matthew 26:38

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he asked his disciples to watch with him. Obviously he wasn’t asking them to watch television. We see He was discouraged not to find them praying. Is watching a synonym for praying?

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

Matthew 26:41

It seems that watching is distinct from praying. It’s times like this that I love using Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary (free online). Webster’s is filled with Scripture and is a great tool to understand Scripture.

5. To be attentive; to be vigilant in preparation for an event or trial, the time of whose arrival is uncertain.

WATCH therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Mat 24.

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/watch

Jesus wants us to be attentive. Television watching, on the other hand, is associated with lower cognitive ability. Jesus’ idea of watching is increasing awareness.

Let’s spend some time today asking Him to help us be aware – we’ll spend the next few days looking at how we can pray for attentiveness!