Pledge Principal IV
I will commit to pray thoughtfully for those who God has brought into my life …
“You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
The friendship of Jesus, revealed in the passage above is no small token. “The law of Your mouth is worth more than thousands in silver and gold.” Psalm 119: 72. So why is Pledge Principle IV written this way? It’s not meant to be a defense of the need for prayer. It’s meant if you consider yourself invested in the kingdom of God, and others spurred by the love of Christ, to be what you are already a “Sentinel.” It would be redundant to convince you of what Jesus says you already are. “A new command I give you, love one another…”
The prayer for Jesus for Peter is probably worth a book in itself, but we can note the following:
- Jesus, knowing Peter personally and was on top of praying for his specific needs
- Jesus encouraged Peter that his trial would enable him to come back stronger helping others.
The second point is really the focus of Pledge Principle IV. Our journeys, trials and tribulations are meant to be used for the Kingdom. The work of the Kingdom of God is never separate from the consideration of others but to know them well enough to invest spiritual power and authority in their lives and “pray specifically” for the circumstances of their lives, circumstance, and future. Note Paul’s spiritual prayer investment in the Ephesian church.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:15-19
Wouldn’t it be great to have someone who actually prayed for us like that? Do you?
This type of prayer requires us to be invested, inquiring, and concerned enough about others to pray for their needs, not simply the general “God take care of Jim” although that’s ok, but as Jesus did it, specifically, preemptively, restoratively. Christian relationships are meant to be deep and significant. I would go far enough to say even Christian relationships with certain non-believers are meant to as well as we may be the only ones carrying prayers to the Father for them until they have learned to do so themselves. So our premise is obvious we definitely need to be praying, and praying a lot!
I don’t know why it seems so hard to pray in a disciplined fashion. I can pray for stuff during the day and have dialogue with God that is personal between me and God as he works to express himself through me during the day with the goal of a deeper relationship and a transformation of my character to the character of his Son. What I seem to struggle with is praying for others the way Jesus and apparently Paul did. In this regard I need major improvement I need help. Consider this do not most of us walk around with a sort of spiritual veneer that masks who we really are? So, as we portray what really is a false self we make it next to impossible for others to pray for us specifically. I need a guide in prayer. Actually, I need supernatural insight into the issue and the direction of my prayers.
Here’s perhaps a new thought to help us in our prayer. The late Chuck Smith founder of the Calvary Chapel movement and Calvary Chapel denomination stated “True prayer always originates in the heart of God.”
What did he mean?
After all, we think of praying in response to things that we see and experience. In fact, most of our prayers revolve around this, our praying towards God based on human knowledge and experience and dare I say assumptions on what God intends, or what to do in relation to His Kingdom. Now that seems practical right? Of course it does, and it has practical sense as well as there are very practical things we can pray for in confidence. But the issue here is not one of being practical. Jesus was not particularly practical when it came to spiritual matters. He was revolutionary, countercultural and counter intuitive.
We do have a very familiar model though that can lend understanding why prayer starts with the will of God that makes sense. And its comes right from the lips of the Master himself Jesus, and we’re going to land on only two sentences of it presently.
“Our Father who are in heaven Holy is your name. Your Kingdom come Your will be done.
Now I want to state the obvious. Jesus is responding to a request by his disciples in Luke 11: 1 to teach them how to pray. It’s important to get that. Because he now models how it’s done. Immediately Jesus points out our Father is Holy, he is not understandable and at our level He is above us in ways we cannot fathom. That’s what holiness is, you and are not intrinsically Holy, Jesus righteousness was given us as an act of His holy blood being made as an atonement for us. This aspect of God in Jesus prayer is connected directly to God’s will and His Kingdom, the will of God and the Kingdom are not separate. Now other than the fact you and I know that God relationship with this prodigal earth and restore it to his intent, you and I don’t know the will of God in its complexity. I want to repeat that you and I don’t know the will of God other than the basics of what God want us to do told to us through the lips of Jesus…..
To effect and manifest His Kingdom, as opposed to ours and not try to implement what we think His Kingdom should be.
Therefore, since His thoughts are truly above our thoughts, (Isaiah 55) it is presumptuous to think we know the will of God separate from Him choosing to reveal it. His will is often stopped in our lives while trying to communicate how we are supposed to pray for Kingdom priorities. The mature disciple understands this. As they surrender their life to Christ and the Spirit, God changes their priorities and even their prayer life to reflect His will over the self. When we are new in our faith, or dare I say immature, we pray for all sorts of things we want that I’m afraid have little to do with the Kingdom. As a result, we are in conflict with His will. This type of prayer life is marked by spiritual frustration with little or no response or answer to prayer as well as little impact on other’s lives. Prayer therefore, acknowledges God’s transcendence and His will on earth, the inferred being humans should ask for His will not ours.
Thank God (literally) he does not leave us there. For if we are in Christ, “That is if the Spirit of God dwells within you” Romans 8: 9 we have insight into spiritual issues as “ we have the mind of Christ,” 1st Corinthians 2:16. Don’t miss this either if we are truly in Christ we pray for His priorities and the things Jesus cared for, which always translates, people and their spiritual restoration to God as primary and their restoration with each other secondary. You see you cannot please another or serve another in the Kingdom until your relationship with God is in order first.
So where does true prayer originate from? Not the heart of man, but the will of God which affects the heart of man. Pledge principle four is a practical application of a spiritual truth, God’s will, affecting the heart of man to prayer for the Kingdom according to God’s intent. While it is certainly ok to pray for our own needs, it’s at the latter end of the prayer in Luke 11; after the will of God has been placed foremost. Jesus understood the profound difficulty of humans communicating with a transcendent God was central to prayer. This is why He also told us “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (our petitions for practical things) will be added to you. It’s interesting that by seeking first His Kingdom, meaning His priorities of reconciling people to Himself; the rest of the things we consider critically important, often material, are already taking care of, despite asking for them. If this simple truth which is profoundly overlooked in modern day evangelicalism is missed, it will define the power and effect of our prayer lives.
JP Grier M.S. Counseling, M.C.M. Pastoral Counseling
JP Grier is the founder and writer and Sentinel For Christ – A network of Christians helping each other to press deeper in Christ.