Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shepastor: "The Power of Intercessory Prayer"

James 5: 16, KJV

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much."

"The Power of Intercessory Prayer"

Since the beginning of time, God declared that it is not good for us to be alone. There is something about community. When we are by ourselves, it is easy to slip into unhealthy patterns of thinking, acting, doing and being. Our minds create the illusion that no one is looking, no one sees us. It’s easy to slip into the belief that no one loves us or cares about us. We were not meant to be alone. And although everyone will not get married, everyone can and should have a community.

In true community, in real community there is fellowship. In other words, it’s more than being in a room or a space with other people, it is being involved with other people, concerned about other people, sharing with other people, rejoicing with other people, feeling pain and hurt, and grieving with other people – that is the Greek concept of “Koinonia,” communion, joint participation; the sharing which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc.

Our text for today lifts up the important role of community in the healing and “answer to prayer process.” When the text says, “confess your faults one to another,” in this context it is speaking of sin and the relationship between sin and sickness. Yes, there can be a relationship between sickness and disobedience to God, but not always.

We see that is not always the case as in scriptures like those found in the book of Job…his illness was not because of sin, but because God allowed him to be tested by satan to prove his faithfulness and devotion to God. The disciples asked Jesus if the man born blind had sinned or if his parents had sinned, but Jesus declared, “It was not any sin of this man or his parents that caused him to be blind. He was born blind so that he could be used to show what great things God can do.” (John 9:3, ERV) Jesus eventually healed that blind man and caused many to believe as a result of the miracle.

So then sickness can be because of sin, but not always. Another concept, however, that comes from this verse of scripture is accountability. When we are in community, true fellowship, Koinonia, we have the opportunity to be open and honest with one another. Although we know that Jesus broke down the middle wall of partition and made it possible for us to go directly to God the Father through Him, there is a time and place for us to “confess” or to share our heart’s illness with one another.

That is why counseling is so therapeutic. It gives people the opportunity to openly share, without fear of rejection, judgment or condemnation. And while I am not suggesting that we share everything with everybody, I believe that people would experience fewer feelings of isolation and stress if the church was truly a place where people could find deep fellowship…a place where people could identify at least one or two people, in addition to their pastor, with whom they could freely share the difficulties of their heart and know that those individuals, in confidence would pray with them, press with them, “intercede” with them, stand in the gap for them, bow down with them at the thrown of grace and seek heaven until the answer came.

Intercession…It is difficult to know if the local churches of today really understand the power of fellowship and intercession. By God’s grace, together, we could run through troops and leap over walls if we grasped the power we hold as the people of God to join together in prayer, in fellowship and intercede for one another. The text says that we would be healed. But so often we relinquish our privilege and power by not taking advantage intercession.

Prayer meetings have become obsolete. Many view the idea of individuals coming together, in person (not through social media…tweeting…Facebook…Instagram…) – face to face, flesh and blood, kneeling together, holding hands, bowing our heads, calling out our prayers to God – as boring, “out of touch,” “old fashioned,” etc. But I believe that God still shows up in powerful ways through that kind of fellowship. Obviously, we cannot always get together in person. Prayers are not limited by human location. There is, however, something very powerful about human touch, human voice, human presence…something healing and transforming.

When we intercede, in other words, when we join together and go to God’s thrown, it moves God in a special way. It lifts our prayers higher. It strengthens our bonds of unity. It heals our wounded and brokenness.

The text then goes on to say that “the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.” The term “fervent” means, impassioned, passionate, intense, vehement, ardent, sincere, heartfelt.

When is the last time you prayed an impassioned, passionate, intense, vehement, ardent, sincere, heartfelt prayer for somebody else, or even yourself for that matter?

Do we truly understand the power of fervent prayer? I believe that we lose so many opportunities, miss so many open doors, totally walk by so many blessings because our eyes are blinded by a lack of fervent prayer. I believe we miss so many answers, so many opportunities for deliverance, so many opportunities to bless and to help and to strengthen and to heal one another because we will not take hold of our chance to intercede together, on behalf of one another.

Could it be that God is just waiting to see how serious we are about whatever it is we are trusting Him for? That is not to suggest that fervent prayer is like a jeanie in a bottle…some magic formula to get whatever you want. But when we become serious about praying, not only for ourselves but for one another, miracles happen. Doors open. We begin to experience changes in situations and circumstances that we may have been waiting on for years. Opportunities open up. Healing begins to happen for individuals, families, communities, congregations, nations and yea even the world.

God is looking for those who will stand in the gap through intercessory prayer. God is looking for those who are willing to intercede on behalf of others. God is looking for someone who is hungry and thirsty for fellowship with Him and with others. Who is going to stand in the gap? Who is going to get serious about intercession and prayer? May our hearts cry out, “Hear am I Lord, send me.”

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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