Praying As An Example
People will determine their opinion of Jesus by looking at you and at those for whom you pray.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? Well, I’m fine, thank you. Nice of you to ask. I feel great and so grateful, may I say, for the privilege of being with you for these moments over many radio stations sharing the Word of God — trying to put a handle on it so that you can get ahold of it for yourself. Look with me now at Romans 15 verse 30. Paul said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe those that live in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem might be accepted by the saints.” He’s bringing some money to them. I’m sure they accepted it.
“That I may come unto you,” here’s his next request, “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all.” Now what does he want? We’ll look at what he wants and then we’ll go back to see what he said. “Strive with me for your prayers to God for me, first that I may be delivered from people that don’t believe.” Was he afraid of them? No. But he wanted somehow that God would move out of His way the opposition of unbelievers so that he could get on with his work.
I’ve tried to think this through for myself. When am I justified in praying about the opposition of unbelieving people? And I’ve come to this conclusion; I’m justified in praying about the opposition of unbelieving people when it affects the service that God has told me to do. We read in the book of Revelation, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door and no man shall shut it.” Paul the apostle said in another place, “a great and effectual door is open unto us but there are many adversaries.”
He always prays that utterance may be given to him. That means that he may be allowed to speak unhindered the Word of God. Add that altogether and you’ll find that there is opposition in this world. Satan opposes us with his roaring and with his traps and with his tricks. He’s the master of dirty tricks. They’re called the wiles of the devil. “Take on to the armor of God that ye may be able to withstand all the wiles of the devil.” And then we’re supposed to pray always so we’re not taken in the snare of the devil, and then we’re supposed to resist him in faith even though he roars. “Be sober, be vigilant; for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist,” resist him, in other words, “steadfast in faith.”
So you take God’s armor of salvation and you take the Word of God and you resist in faith and you realize that you’re in a battle but that it’s a battle that’s already been won for you at Calvary and so you triumph. 2 Corinthians 2:14, “God always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” You triumph in Christ because the battle’s already won. Yes, you expect opposition but you can pray against the opposition when it affects or threatens to affect the job God has told you to do. Nowhere in Scripture are we justified in praying for ourselves out of self pity.
Paul says very clearly that he’s learned how to go through all different kinds of conditions. He said, “Everywhere and all the time I am instructed both to be full or to be hungry, both to abound or to suffer need.” I know how to be abased —that means when people turn me down and spurn me; and I know how to abound — that means when everything is coming up roses. I’ve learned in whatsoever condition I am therewith to be content. I can do anything God asks me to do because Christ strengthens me, Philippians 4:13. And God will supply all my needs.
Now, this then is the attitude of the servant of God. I’ll go through anything I have to go through with if God tells me to do it because He’ll enable me to. So the time to pray against the opposition is when it’s getting in the way of the job God has told you to do. Just while I’m speaking with you now, there flashes into my mind a picture from memory that goes back a good many years when I was travelling in the Philippine islands. On one occasion, we were gathered in the plaza of a large city there in one of the Philippine islands.
The meeting had been well advertised and there were, I suppose, 3 or 4 thousand people gathered even before the meeting ever was scheduled to begin. And the crowd kept growing. Unfortunately, also there were a group of people who were very much against the gospel. As it developed, they were a quasi-political group who under the guise of their antagonism for the gospel were also carrying on some political maneuverings in that particular area but in any case, we knew that they were against us because they very soon after the meeting began, they started to shout and heckle and hurl all sorts of insults and disturbed the meeting.
Well, I remember thinking at that point, the Lord Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall bound on earth shall be bound in heaven.” And so I just bowed my head and prayed out loud as I sat there on the little raised dais that they had by the microphone. And I prayed, “Oh, Lord, in Jesus’ name, will you bind these people and get them off our back so we can go on with the gospel meeting? And all of a sudden, this political group stopped talking with us and began to talk with some of the people in the crowd round about them who, it turned out, were a contingent of ministers from another church entirely different from ours, I may say. You can guess what church it may have been.
And they turned to them and the whole group, the hecklers and the ministers from another church moved out of the crowd on down the street shouting at each other as they went and our meeting went on in calm and peace. Oh, I bowed again and I said, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.” God has a way of handling the opposition. You can pray against your opposition when it is in line to affect what God has told you to do. You don’t pray out of self pity for yourself. You pray out of faith in terms of getting the job done. Does that make sense?
God may trust you with going through some very painful experiences. In Calcutta one night, we were beset by a crowd of communists who tossed all kinds of objects in our direction, pieces of brick and stone and bottles and whatnot and some of us were hit with them. You don’t pray out of self pity and say, “Oh, God, make them stop hitting me.” What you do is you pray, “Oh, God, control this crowd so that we can preach the gospel”, which is precisely what we did and I heard some folk on the edge of the crowd saying to these rabble rousers who were trying to break up the meeting, they said, “You be quiet or we’re going to throw you out.” And they were quiet.
God knows how to control the opposition. That’s really all that Paul is saying there. He said, “Pray for me; strive with me.” That word “strive” is agonize. We’ll get back to that in a minute. But he says, “Strive with me – agonize with me in intercessory prayer so that I’ll be delivered from unbelieving opposition so I can do the job that God has asked me to do. He said, “That my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted by the saints.” He said, “I want to bless those people there and I wish you’d pray that God would keep the opposition out of the way. And then he said. “Pray that I can come to you. Pray that I can come to you and be refreshed with you.”
Well, now, let’s go back into verse 30. And he said, “I beseech you,” this was a matter of deep urgency. He uses one of the strong pleading terms in the Greek New Testament. He said, “I’m really pleading with you, brothers, for the Lord’s sake and because the Spirit of God has put God’s love in our hearts.” What is the basis for intercession? What is the basis for praying for other people? Their needs? No. Not primarily. Not primarily. The basis for praying for other people is, number one, because you and they belong to God, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. His name is involved in what goes on.
That’s going to make a very great deal of difference. I said to a missionary one day as we walked along a street. I said, “How in the world do you stand it?” We were in a very unsavory part of an unsavory city. I won’t tell you the country ‘because it really doesn’t make that much difference. But the sites and the sounds and the smells were simply overpowering. It was like being in the vestibule of Gehenna. It was an upsetting, shocking kind of an experience to yours truly and here was this dear man who’d been living in it day after day and night after night and I said to him calling by name, I said, “How do you stand it?”
He said, “Bob, I have to admit, if it weren’t for Jesus, I would end up screaming at these people. But,” he said, “the Lord Jesus Christ has touched me and the Holy Spirit of God has filled my heart with love and,” he said, “that makes all the difference.” Well, now you see, he was a literal fulfillment of this verse, wasn’t he? Paul said. “I beseech you for the sake of the Lord Jesus, and because the Holy Spirit has put God’s love in my heart – in our hearts.” He says, “You strive together with me in prayer.”
The basic reason for praying for anybody and for sticking it out in an unsavory, unpleasant situation and for believing God for victory in the midst of seeming defeat, the basic reason is not because somebody else needs it or because you feel like it, but because Jesus is involved. You bear His name. His reputation is at stake. People will determine their opinion of Jesus by looking at you and at those for whom you pray. That, my dear friend, is the real reason for interceding. And then he said, “Because the Holy Spirit has put God’s love in your heart,” Romans 5:5 says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.”
He said, “I beseech you, for the Lord Jesus’ sake and for the love of the Spirit that you strive together in prayer for me.” Another reason, then, for praying for anybody is that your heart has been filled with love for them not just human concern but divinely given love because the Holy Spirit of God has filled your life. I think the key to much of the weak and feeble prayer life that we see around us is that people have never yet, some of them, opened every room in their heart house to the Holy Spirit of God.
If you’ve not done this, do it today. By faith, just as you trusted Jesus as Savior, by faith, open every area of your life to the blessed Holy Spirit so that He can control you. You will then know the fruit of the Spirit. Love is the first one, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Open every part of your life by faith to the Holy Spirit of God; you’ll be a better prayer as a result.
Dear Father today, make us good prayer warriors, in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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