Praying For Others
Learn to pray for people when God brings them to your mind.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear friend. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Well, bless your heart. I am thinking of so many of you whom I know personally, and my heart goes out to you, in love and longing that God may touch you with His special blessing today as we look at His Word. My constant prayer is that God will take something that is said as we look into God’s Word and apply it to your life. I call it putting a handle on God’s Word for you. Oh, may that be true today.
I was talking about being thankful the last time we got together. Thankful for parents, thankful for training, thankful for the Christian family I’m so grateful for. A faithful wife, – 53 years now it’s been, soon be 54 that God has put us together – and Christian children and grandchildren. And thankful for places and relationships of work that enable me to minister to people all around the world, and years past have been with people who are God’s choice servants. They were people who enabled me to minister effectively in the Gospel. Thankful for health. You know I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I feel young, but thankful that God has kept me going.
A lot of the people I went to school with are six feet under. I’ll see them in the resurrection, but right now they’re waiting in the presence of the Lord Jesus for that time when the trumpet of God’s will sound, and the dead in Christ shall arise first. And you and I are still on the job. Hallelujah! Thankful, oh yes.
But you know, he says, “We give thanks to God for you always.” And this, then, brings us to the question of being thankful for people.
Now, some folk are wonderful. Some people are difficult, and some people are simply impossible. Have you discovered that? And it’s easy enough, then, for you and for me to be thankful for the folk who are delightful people whose presence always delights us and encourages us. There are some people who – when I meet them – make me want to do better and be a better man. There’s some people who cheer you up, isn’t that true? Yes, there are, there are. It’s just a joy to meet some folk that encourage you and cheer you up, and simply challenge you and make want to do better. That’s great. Then there are other people who bring a question into the situation, and there’s still other people who have the gift of discouragement and aggravation.
We’re talking to someone in the college years ago about a situation and somebody’s name then came up, and this thoughtful comment was made very quietly, “Well, he has the gift of discouragement.” There are folk like that.
Now, my question is, am I thankful only for the nice people in my life? That’s where we are at. “We give thanks to God always for you all.” I can guarantee you that not everybody in Thessalonica was a 100% winner. Not everybody was a charmer. Not everybody was an encourager, but Paul said, “I give thanks for you all.”
Stop here long enough, you know, just to remind yourself, my beloved friend, that you and I need to give thanks to God even for the folk who seem to be our critics or who are against this. You know why? God uses those people either to warn us or to sharpen us or to make us more dependent upon Him and more humble in His sight. Even the critics can be used of God. “He maketh,” the Psalmist said, “He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.” What does that mean?
Even the people who get angry with you and oppose you can become, in the miracle of God’s grace, part of His divine plan for making you more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Isn’t that a great concept? You may meet someone today. You may get into a situation today, or some of you, of course, listen late at night, so I have to say “tomorrow.” You may get into a situation where people are impossible or they are antagonistic or they are conspiratorial or whatever it may be. Instead of fighting, just look up and say, “Father use this to make me more like the Lord Jesus Christ.” I can guarantee you He’ll answer that prayer and you’ll be blessed.
Now, it so happens that there was a good deal of obvious good quality about this group, some of which Paul lists here now. He says, “I make mention of you in my prayers.” Intercessory prayer is a very important thing. We’ll talk about that in a separate message. Intercessory prayer. He says, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Stop long enough on the word “remember” just to encourage yourself with the truth that God sanctifies your memories. I mentioned that a little while ago, and I just wanted to stop on it momentarily again. Give all of your memories to God and let Him sanctify them so that you can look at them as the psychological counselors sometimes say “at arm’s length”. Give your memories so that you can look at them at arm’s length without wincing or flinching or being threatened by them. Let God sanctify your memories.
God has the ability, and promises to do this very thing. He said, “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” What does that mean? “The years where things weren’t right,” he says, “I will make them right. I will do something about them.” God will sanctify your memories – good ones and painful ones – until they become a mosaic of blessing and you can look at them without wincing, without being threatened by them. Turn them over to God. Good idea?
But he says, “I remember in prayer,” “remembering in prayer without ceasing.” So we come a step farther: take the things you remember and bring them to God in prayer and let Him then begin to work in your life on the basis of His matchless grace. Yes, memories, but memories suffused with the grace of God. In Paul’s case, his memories made him pray for people, which brings me into this: when God drops the name of a person into mind when you’re praying, that’s the time to intercede for that person.
Now, many people have a prayer list and I do, too. I maintain one – I think I must confess – in spotty fashion. I don’t use it as a slavish routine that I am absolutely bound by, but I have a list of things, to be sure. So many have a prayer list, and people have told me “You are number six on my prayer list, and I pray for you every morning at such and such o’clock.” Well, that’s wonderful. Thank God, don’t quit. Keep – listen – keep me on your prayer list whenever you revise it, will you? Yes, please.
But the time for you to intercede for a person is when God drops that person’s name into your mind by the faithful Holy Spirit. Part of the Holy Spirit’s work is to bring to you remembrance. “He shall bring to you remembrance,” Jesus said, “all things whatsoever I have said unto you,” and He reminds you of that, not only of Scripture but also of the subject matter for which you should pray.
“We know not,” Paul says in Romans 8, “what” – that’s the subject, see – “what we should pray for: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” So the Holy Spirit is the one who reminds you of what to pray for, or for whom to pray in intercessory prayer. The time to pray for John Q. Citizen – whatever the name may be – is when God reminds you of it.
People sometimes say to me in meetings, “Pray for me, will you?” and instead of answering idly, “Yes, I will,” I oftentimes say “Dear friend, when God reminds me of you I’ll pray for you.” That way I’m not making an idle promise but I’m making a covenant that can be kept when the Holy Spirit reminds me. Would you form that habit? Remembering in prayer. When you remember somebody as you’re praying, that’s the time right then and there to get a hold of God concerning that person.
Now, you may not know what to pray for. I just quoted for you from Romans 8, “we know not what to pray for as we ought.” You may not know what to ask God for in connection with some person that He lays on your heart. That doesn’t matter because God knows, doesn’t He? And prayer originates with God, comes to you and back to God, through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
So when God lays John Smith or Hazel Jones, whatever it may be, on your heart and you say, “Lord, I don’t know what he or she needs just now, but oh, God, whatever the need is, meet it,” and you pray earnestly for that person, I can assure you that half a world away perhaps, someone in need of your prayer is being helped. Missionaries by the hundreds have testified that oftentimes, in times of great danger or illness or discouragement, suddenly they found the situation changing and their spirits were lifted, and when they checked later on they found that someone back home was praying for them that very hour.
I must say that there been times in my own life when I was mysteriously lifted in spirit and strengthened physically, and then I discovered later on that somebody – and in some cases, a lot of somebodies – were engaging in intercessory prayer for Bob Cook. But the point that we’re raising is, when God drops somebody’s name into your mind and you remember, get praying for them right then and there, because that is what God wants you to do. “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”
Well, the time will be gone before we can get into that sequence there, and we better just handle it as a package rather than to fragment and break it up now. And I want you to see that his praying was for people whose relationship was in the Lord Jesus Christ. That which makes your praying effective, that which makes your praying effective for others is the relationship you and they sustained to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the sovereignty of God, and to the fatherhood of God who comes through Jesus. Something I want to talk with you about the next time we get together.
Father God today, make us thankful, make us praying people, make us obedient. 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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