The Power of Intercessory Prayer
Oftentimes we don’t realize the impact of our prayers when we pray on behalf of someone else or “intercede” for them. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he wrote “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy 2:1)
In both the Old and New Testaments prayers of intercession are prominent - even those that impact nature. Elijah prayed for it not to rain, and for three years there was no rain. James reminds us of this even as he encourages us to pray for one another. “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops” (James 5:17-18).
Moses was one who constantly interceded with God on behalf of the people. He interceded for his sister Miriam when she, along with Aaron spoke against him and she was struck with leprosy. (Numbers 12:13). He prayed on behalf of the people after they complained against God so much, He sent snakes into their camp that bit and killed many. (Numbers 21:6). Moses again interceded to God to preserve the life of the Israelites when the twelve spies returned from scouting out the land and ten scouts convinced the people there was no chance they could possess the land. Instead, they wanted to choose a leader and return to Egypt. They complained against God all night and so intensely that He was ready to destroy them. (Numbers 14:1-25).
It doesn’t matter if we intercede on behalf of one or many, we must intercede. The early believers prayed for the release of Peter from jail. Scripture says that while he was in jail, the church prayed earnestly to God for his release. God released him and led him out of the prison by an angel. (Acts 12:5-11).
Abraham interceded for the city of Sodom for his nephew Lot. God was ready to destroy the city because of its constant wickedness and sin. Abraham did not want his nephew to be destroyed with the wicked. So, he interceded and asked to preserve the city if there were ten righteous people. God assured him that he would not destroy it if he could find ten righteous people. We know the end. God destroyed the city, but he did preserve the life of Lot and his family by leading them out of the city by the hand of two angels. Scripture tells us “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain” (Genesis 19:29).
What is my point in all this? Brothers and sisters, let’s use the power that God gave us to change our circumstances and the lives of others. God hears the prayers of the righteous. “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power” (James 5:16).
Cast Your Care
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
How often have we heard or used the phrases “I don’t care, who cares, or no one cares?” Probably more often than we think. Merriam - Webster Dictionary defines “care” as a suffering of mind or a disquieted state of mixed uncertainty, apprehension, and responsibility. When this level of concern and worry occurs our minds and emotions are not at ease.
In 1 Peter 5:6-7, Peter addressed his readers to be subject (responsible to and supporting of) one another. He challenged them to humble themselves under God’s hand and to cast all their cares on Him because He cares for them. In mentioning “their cares” he is referring to their suffering of the mind or disquieted state of mixed uncertainty defined in the Merriam – Webster Dictionary. In mentioning “God’s care” he is referring to God’s love, attention, and provision.
There are two particular points I want to emphasize here. The first is that the readers are encouraged to “humble” themselves in order that they may be exalted (verse 6). The second point is that the readers are encouraged to “cast, throw, get rid of” their heavyweight. What’s so important about this? We must humble ourselves to the point of admitting that we are not strong enough to carry the stress and worries of this world. We must humble ourselves to the point of believing and accepting the fact that God is so concerned about our well-being that He does not want us to carry any unnecessary weight. He wants us to be free of every burden.
Surely we must trust God to the point of knowing that no problem is too difficult for Him to handle. As the saying goes, “from the top to the bottom, God can handle our problems.” However, we must allow God to take control of the stressful situations in our lives by releasing them to Him. He can’t (and won’t) handle what we are not willing to let go. Hence, “let go and let God.” Peter instructs his readers to “cast or throw off” their burdens and distractions. That implies to get rid of them with intense determination and force rather than just hoping God will work them out. Yes, be emphatic and deliberate about it.
Are you in a time of uncertainty, stress, discomfort or worry? I remind you of what the apostle Peter instructed his readers to do – simply cast your care!