To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Ps 25:1-5 (ESV).
Eternal Rocks of Ages, we bow before Thy throne. You Who is worthy of our praise, glory be you. Blessed Redeemer, we worship You. Thank you for this awesome moment to shoot our prayers to heaven with every assurance that you will answer. Above all Lord, thank You for the liberty in the blood. For the forty less one strokes You received just to end our miseries; for nothing can with-stand the blood.
Dearly beloved, is praying time; blessing time. Just as Christ taught the early church to pray for one another needs, so we are also enjoined to do same even at a time like this. The early church in all their prayer was little thought of personal need or happiness. It was the desire to witness for Christ and bring Him and His salvation to others, it was the thought of God’s kingdom and glory, that possessed these disciples. If we would be delivered from the sin of restraining prayer, we must enlarge our hearts for the work of intercession.
The attempt to pray constantly for ourselves must be a failure; it is in intercession for others that our faith and love and perseverance will be aroused, and that power of the Spirit be found which can fit us for saving men.
We are asking how we may become more faithful and successful in prayer; let us see how the Master teaches us, in the parable of the Friend at Midnight, that intercession for the needy calls forth the highest exercise of our power of believing and prevailing prayer.
Intercession is the most perfect form of prayer: it is the prayer Christ ever liveth to pray on His throne.
Let us learn what the elements of true intercession are:
1. Notice the urgent need: here intercession has its origin. The friend came at midnight—an untimely hour. He was hungry, and could not buy bread. If we are to learn to pray aright we must open eye and heart to the need around us.
2. Note the willing love. —The friend took his weary, hungry friend into his house, and into his heart too. He did not excuse himself by saying he had no bread: he gave himself at midnight to seek it for him. He sacrificed his night’s rest, his comfort, to find the needed bread. “Love seeketh not its own.” It is the very nature of love to give up and forget itself for the sake of others. It takes their needs and makes them its own, it finds its real joy in living and dying for others as Christ did.
It is the love of a mother to her prodigal son that makes her pray for him. True love to souls will become in us the spirit of intercession. It is possible to do a great deal of faithful, earnest work for our fellowmen without true love to them. Just as a lawyer or a physician, from a love of his profession and a high sense of faithfulness to duty, may interest himself most thoroughly in clients or patients without any special love to each, so servants of Christ may give themselves to their work with devotion and even self-sacrificing enthusiasm without the Christlike love to souls being strong. It is this lack of love that causes so much shortcoming in prayer. It is as love of our profession and work, delight in thoroughness and diligence, sink away in the tender compassion of Christ, that love will compel us to prayer, because we cannot rest in our work if souls are not saved. True love must pray.
3. Note the sense of impotence.—We often speak of the power of love. In one sense this is true; and yet the truth has its limitations, which must not be forgotten. The strongest love may be utterly impotent. A mother might be willing to give her life for her dying child, and yet not be able to save it. The friend at midnight was most willing to give his friend bread, but he had none. It was this sense of impotence, of his inability to help, that sent him a-begging: “My friend is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.” It is this sense of impotence with God’s servants that is the very strength of the life of intercession.
“I have nothing to set before them”: at this consciousness takes possession of the minister or missionary, the teacher or worker, intercession will become their only hope and refuge. I may have knowledge and truth, a loving heart, and the readiness to give myself for those under my charge; but the bread of heaven I cannot give them.
It is this kind of love and zeal that made Christ to die; that we may live. Beloved, look at His strips and live; for by His strips we are healed.
“With His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of His flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body.
Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears, as He stands before you the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which His stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.
“See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.
With thorns His temples gor’d and gash’d
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.
But sharper scourges tear His heart.”
We would fain go to our chambers and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first pray our Beloved to print the image of His bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with Him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost Him so dear.
The text below dear beloved must encourage us to pray and supplicate. In spite of the inconveniences, she suffer no birds of the air to rest on her slayed sons; how much more are we to persist in our prayers till we get answer.
“And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.” 2Samuel 21:10
If the love of a woman to her slain sons could make her prolong her mournful vigil for so long a period, shall we weary of considering the sufferings of our blessed Lord? She drove away the birds of prey, and shall not we chase from our meditations those worldly and sinful thoughts which defile both our minds and the sacred themes upon which we are occupied?
Away, ye birds of evil wing! Leave ye the sacrifice alone! She bore the heats of summer, the night dews and the rains, unsheltered and alone. Sleep was chased from her weeping eyes: her heart was too full for slumber. Behold how she loved her children! Shall Rizpah thus endure, and shall we start at the first little inconvenience or trial? Are we such cowards that we cannot bear to suffer with our Lord? She chased away even the wild beasts, with courage unusual in her sex, and will not we be ready to encounter every foe for Jesus’ sake?
These her children were slain by other hands than hers, and yet she wept and watched: what ought we to do who have by our sins crucified our Lord? Our obligations are boundless, our love should be fervent and our repentance thorough. To watch with Jesus should be our business, to protect His honour our occupation, to abide by His cross our solace. Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah, especially by night, but in our Lord, at whose cross-foot we are sitting, there is nothing revolting, but everything attractive.
Never was living beauty so enchanting as a dying Saviour. Jesus, we will watch with Thee yet awhile, and do Thou graciously unveil Thyself to us; then shall we not sit beneath sackcloth, but in a royal pavilion in Jesus Matchless Name we pray.
Beloved, let us in our prayers today, pray for the spirit of intercession to rest on us, to seek the common good of one another and be kingdom minded in Jesus Name.
Remain blessed in the Lord.
Evang. Ifeoma Ohondu