Vol. 17, No. 29 – July 22, 2018
4. The Energy, vs. 18-20, God’s Appeal for Prayer in the Church.
Principles of Intercessory Prayer:
The principles of Christian service apply to every believer and every prayer the believer makes. Prayer, especially intercessory prayer, is a major part of your Christian service inside the body of Christ. Since every believer is in fulltime Christian service, he should express in prayer that service by praying for other members of the Church. When he does under the filling of the Holy Spirit, his intercession for others will be Divine Good rather than human good or dead works.
Interceding on behalf of others is of major importance. It is a holy calling made to each Christian, Luke 18:1; Col 4:2. As we noted in Eph 6:18, Paul, through the Holy Spirit, commanded it, 1 Thes 5:17; 1 Tim 2:1; cf. Col 1:3.
1 Tim 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.”
As you know, the basic principle for prayers is that the believer offers all prayers to God the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the power of the filling of God the Holy Spirit. Prayer should be directed to God the Father, Mat 4:10, (but there are also examples that prayer can be made to Christ, Luke 23:42; Acts 7:59). Believers are to pray in the name of Jesus, John 14:13, (who was Himself the greatest example of one who prays, Luke 11:1). Believers may pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, Eph 2:18; 6:18; Jude 20; cf. 1 Cor 14:14. They are to pray in light of the great forgiveness they have received, Mat 6:12, and with all confidence, Mat 7:7-8, 11; Mark 11:24; Phil 4:6; Heb 4:16. Although prayer can take place anywhere, an emphasis is placed upon private prayer, Mat 6:6; cf. 1 Tim 2:8.
There are several examples of Intercessory prayers in the Bible that we can learn from:
1.) Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel demonstrated the power of intercessory prayer for the nation, 1 Kings 18:42-46; James 5:16-18. Compare with Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8, and Daniel’s prayer for Israel while in captivity, Dan 9:1-19.
2.) The true “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17, the most phenomenal prayer ever made, where He prayed on behalf of all future believers.
3.) The power of intercessory prayer was exercised in the early Church on behalf of Peter, who was in prison and about to be executed, Acts 12:5.
Acts 12:5, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”
The result of this prayer was Peter’s dramatic deliverance. He was chained between two Roman soldiers. But with every Roman guard asleep, Peter simply walked out of the prison. All the Roman soldiers were executed for this.
4.) Prayer for unbelievers is legitimate and a part of your dynamics in intercessory prayer. You can absolutely pray for the salvation of the unbelievers. But, remember not to ask God to violate their volition by asking Him to make them believe in Christ. That He cannot do. Yet, He can work to present the gospel to them clearly and often, Rom 10:1.
Rom 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (Jews) is for their salvation.”
5.) We can pray for believers we have not met, Col 1:3-12. This is a demonstration of the power of impersonal love. When we can pray for those we personally do not know or even our enemies. It demonstrates the functional virtue of impersonal love.
6.) Therefore, with impersonal love operating within our souls, we can also pray intercessory prayers for our enemies, Mat 5:44; Luke 23:44.
Mat 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
7.) Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21, demonstrates intercessory prayer for believers we do know.
8.) We can have intercessory prayers for the sick, James 5:13-15.
James 5:15, “And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
9.) We can pray that others reach spiritual adulthood, Phil 1:9-11.
10.) There is prayer for the communication and communicators of Bible doctrine; for Pastor‑Teachers, missionaries, evangelists, etc., Col 4:2-3; 2 Thes 3:1; Heb 13:18.
Col 4:2‑3, “Devote yourselves to prayer; in it, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving, 3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ.”
2 Thes 3:1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you.”
Heb 13:18, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.”
11.) There is the intercessory prayer of widows, that is, ladies who become single either by the death, divorce, or abandonment of their husbands. They have a special opportunity to pray intercessory prayers both night and day, (more often than once a day), because first, they can no longer rely upon their husband to take care of them, so they must turn to God, and secondly, they may not be distracted by the details of life caring for their husband as the married woman might be. As a result of their very tranquil and uncomplicated life, they are able to be effective in continuous prayer on behalf of others, 1 Tim 5:5.
1 Tim 5:5, “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.”
When you reach spiritual adulthood, intercessory prayers really become effective, because now, like never before, you have impersonal love that gives you the ability to forget about the personality, the idiocy, the antagonism, etc. of others, and to actually pray for those people with whom you do not agree with.
This is very important regarding political leaders who you may think are leading our nation in the wrong direction, or the wrong way, or are damaging our client nation. Regardless of what you think about them, as a Christian you are to be praying for them. Cf. Rom 13:1-10. In fact, not praying for them and instead running them down all the time with your mouth is “doing evil” and not applying impersonal AGAPE love.
Impersonal love gives you phenomenal power and the confidence to offer all kinds of intercessory prayer, which comes from having personal love for God in the first place. That is because; virtue‑love is confidence from personal love for God and impersonal love toward man. Virtue‑love is not only a Problem Solving Device, but it is maximum effectiveness in prayer. This is especially true for the various categories of intercessory prayers.
Remember, prayer is a privilege, the function of the Royal Priesthood. Therefore, it is a powerful weapon in the hands of the believer.
Since grace is the principle of prayer, no believer can petition for himself or make intercession for others on the basis of human merit, ability, morality, production, service, or spiritual gift. Every believer approaches the Throne of Grace on the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ who is our great High Priest. While the Father is propitiated with the work of Christ on the Cross, He is no respecter of persons. Therefore we must approach the Father from our position of fellowship and Grace.
Grace is the policy of the integrity of God in the imputation of blessing from the justice of God to the indwelling righteousness of God in the believer. The believer out of fellowship is not only weak but has no effectiveness in his prayer life because, God does not answer prayer because the believer is “good,” moral, sincere, benevolent, religious, concerned, altruistic, talented, or possesses a pleasing personality. Answer to prayer is based on the Divine Integrity of God. Therefore, the believer’s human merit is never a factor in answered prayer.
Finally, remember that prayer is a weapon. You must understand how it functions, just as you should understand how any weapon functions before you use it. One prayer can change the course of history, e.g., some of Christ’s prayers, and Paul’s prayer in Ephesians. Prayer must be used as a weapon. Unfortunately, most people blaspheme when they pray because of arrogance while praying and ignorance of how to pray.
Eph 6:20, “For which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
This verse continues Paul petition for intercessory prayer on his behalf by the Church. He recognizes the strength received through the power of intercessory prayer.
“For which,” is the Preposition HUPER with the Genitive Relative Pronoun HOS that relates this continuation of Paul’s petition for intercessory prayer to communicate the Mystery Gospel of Jesus Christ back to vs. 19, where the petition began.
“I am an ambassador,” is the verb PRESBEUO, πρεσβεύω in the Extending from the Past Present, Active Indicative, 1st Person, Singular that means, “to act as an ambassador or representative for someone.” This is one of two uses of this term in the NT. The other is in 2 Cor 5:20, that tells us all believers are to “act as ambassadors” for Christ, where it is used in the 1st Person Plural. Paul, like all who are to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ are royal ambassadors of God, 1 Peter 2:9, “…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The word was commonly used in classical Greek to denote an aged person or elder, and the activity of an official envoy of a ruler or government who legally represented the authority responsible for sending him.
Given that the English word ambassador can be used as a noun or a verb, here the Greek is telling us that this is an action to be performed. Therefore, we should translate this “I am to act as an ambassador.”
Next, we have some definition to Paul’s present state with “in chains.” It is the Dative of Manner of the Preposition EN Plus the Dative Singular Noun HALUSIS, ἅλυσις that means, “chain or captivity.” It is an old Greek word from the negative prefix A, the verb LUO, “loose,” and the suffix SIS that indicates action. Literally, it means, “not loose,” and became the term for, “being in bondage, tied up, in chains, shackled, handcuffed, imprisonment, etc.” In addition, in our passage the singular “chain” is used. The Romans would bind a prisoner to a soldier by a single chain, in a kind of free custody, cf. the singular in Acts 28:16, 20. The term “bonds” was used when the prisoner’s hands and feet were bound together, cf. the plural in Acts 26:29; 12:6. Here, “imprisonment,” is the better context as Paul was under house arrest at the time and guarded by Roman soldiers, cf. Acts 28:20; 2 Tim 1:16.
In the ancient world, as today, ambassadors were to be received with all the respect due to the ones who sent them; as heralds, they were to be immune from hostility even if they represented an enemy kingdom. Paul, an “ambassador” of the greatest King and the greatest Kingdom, Eph 6:20, is instead chained in Rome for his mission of peace, Eph 6:15. In Greek literature, a true philosopher was characterized by his “boldness,” or frank speech. Therefore, we see that Paul was an ambassador in chains, and yet he did not lose his courage, but preached with as much boldness as ever, Eph 3:1-13. He had just written about the spiritual warfare, and now we see that he was experiencing the onslaught of the enemy at the very moment he was writing. Paul was an ambassador in chains; cf. Acts 28:16, 20; Eph 3:1; 4:1; Phil 1:7, 13-14, 16; Col 4:3, 18; Philemon 1, 9-10, 13.
So far we have, “for which (on behalf of the mystery gospel), I am acting as an imprisoned ambassador.”
Then we have the reiteration of Paul’s desire in the petition for intercessory prayer, “that in proclaiming it, I may speak boldly.”
This is a HINA of Result clause, which begins with HINA for “that.” Then we have Dative Preposition EN “in,” with the Dative Personal Pronoun AUTOS in the Neuter, 3rd Person, Singular for “it,” that refers back to the “mystery gospel” that Paul desires to proclaim. “Proclaim” is not found in the Greek but is the context here. That is why it is in italic in the NASB.
Next, we have, “I may speak boldly,” which is the Verb PARRHESIAZOMAI, παῤῥησιάζομαι that means, “to speak openly, fearlessly, boldly, or freely.” We had the Noun of this word, PARRHESIA, in vs. 19.
It is formed from PAN, “all”; RHESIS, “speech, word”; and ERO, “say, speak,” and means “freedom to say all.” In classical Greek it refers to fearless and frank speaking with the freedom to speak openly even in the face of opposition. It was also used to express the openness of intimate conversation with a friend, which also hints at the relaxed mental attitude we should have while witnessing. Later, it was used to denote the freedom of speech that someone who is morally pure has; he need not fear the public scrutiny of his life which his words might incite. In the NT it is used of the fearless and free proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, cf. Acts 9:27,29; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 1 Thes 2:2, even in chains before kings Acts 26:26. Therefore, it means, “to speak openly, boldly, and without constraint.”
Here it is in the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive as part of the HINA purpose clause.
The Constative Aorist Tense views the entirety of the process of witnessing with confidence and boldness.
The Middle Deponent Voice: gives this an active meaning, with results that go back to Paul; “He may speak boldly.”
The Subjunctive Mood is for the “Results Clause.” This is the desired result Paul is looking for when asking for their prayers. As such, Paul, who was “in chains” or “imprisoned,” desired to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ just as a free man would.
1 Thes 2:2, “But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.”
In essence, this is the third time in this petition for intercessory prayer that Paul emphasized speaking boldly in regard to the mystery gospel of Jesus Christ; twice in vs. 18 and now here. Three is the number of Divine perfection. Therefore, when we speak the gospel with bold confidence, we are operating as God has designed and would intend for us to do.
Finally, we have, “as I ought to speak,” which is the Subordinating Conjunction HOS, “as,” with the Personal Pronoun EGO, “I,” the Verb DEI, and the Verb LALEO.
Here we have two verbs. The first is DEI, δεῖ that means, “it is necessary, must, ought, has to, or should,” do something. It says that something “must” be done without indicating the source or intensity of the demand. It is in the Present, Active, Indicative, for the reality of the ongoing action that Paul should adhere to. This is simply how he should speak. This is what is expected of the professional Christian in fulltime Christian service. And, we know from Scripture, that this is only considered Divine good when performed through the filling of God the Holy Spirit.
Then we have LALEO, λαλέω that means, “to speak, proclaim, say, communicate, or utter sounds,” in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive. We saw this word in Eph 5:19, for how we are to encourage one another, “with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” It relates more to the external sound rather than to the content of what is said. Yet, in this case we know what the content is, the mystery gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this simply emphasizes the communication of that gospel.
The Constative Aorist views the entirety of the action of Paul witnessing / proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Active Voice, Paul is to communicate this information.
The Epexegetical Infinitive clarifies the previous HINA result clause, to indicate this is Paul’s desired outcome in his petition to the Church for intercessory prayers on his behalf. He desires to speak boldly and confidently the mystery gospel of Jesus Christ, as he should speak, being an ambassador for Christ in chains.
From the time of his conversion, Acts 9, Paul was consumed with one main goal in life; to proclaim the gospel to the world. He considered himself a special appointee of Jesus Christ. Just as a King, Caesar, President, etc., of a country appoints an ambassador to represent him personally in another country, so too did God appoint Paul to represent Him and His gospel to the world. Remember, an ambassador does not speak for himself, but for the prominent person he represents. This gives a certain amount of boldness to the ambassador, because it is not his words but that of his sovereign. How much more this should be true of a representative of Jesus Christ.
Fear hinders us from preaching Christ openly and fearlessly. That is why the absence of all restraint and disguise in confessing Christ is demanded from his ministers. As we have noted, evangelism is spiritual warfare. The culture opposes it. Therefore, we need God’s power to do it faithfully and confidently. That is why Paul asks for these prayers on his behalf.
Therefore, in this section we have seen several aspects of prayer. Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor of God and wield the sword. We cannot fight the battle in our own power, no matter how strong or talented we may think we are. When Amalek attacked Israel, Moses went to the mountaintop for intercession, while Joshua used the sword down in the valley, Ex 17:8-16. It took both to defeat Amalek; Moses’ intercession on the mountain, and Joshua’s use of the sword in the valley.
Prayer is the power for victory, but not just any kind of prayer. Paul tells us how to pray, if we are to defeat Satan:
- Pray always. This does not mean “always saying prayers.” We are not heard for our “many words,” Mat 6:7. Instead, “pray without ceasing,” 1 Thes 5:17, means that we are to be diligent and consistent in our prayers, as well as continual until a resolution is seen. A Christian must “pray always” because he is always subject to temptations and attacks of the devil. A surprise attack has defeated more than one believer who forgot to “pray without ceasing.”
- Pray with all prayer. There is more than one kind of prayer we can be praying: Rebound, supplication, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, glorification, etc., Phil 4:6; 1 Tim 2:1.
Phil 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
1 Tim 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority,…”
The believer who prays only to ask for things is missing out on blessings that come with other types of prayers like intercessions and giving of thanks. Intercession for others can bring victory to our own lives too, Job 42:10.
Job 42:10 (KJV), “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
- Pray in the Spirit. The Biblical formula is that we pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. Rom 8:26-27, tells us that only in the power of the Spirit can we pray in the will of God. Otherwise, our praying could be selfish and out of the will of God.
In the OT tabernacle, there was a small golden altar standing before the veil, and here the priest burned the incense that was a fragrant aroma to our Lord, Ex 30:1-10, 34-37. The incense had to be mixed according to God’s plan and could not be counterfeited by man. It had to be a right thing done in a right way. The fire on the altar was a picture of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who takes our prayers and “ignites” them in the will of God. Therefore, the burning incense is a picture of our prayers in the Holy Spirit that are a pleasing aroma to the Lord, Psa 141:2; Prov 15:8; Luke 11:1-13; Rev 5:8; 8:3-4.
Psa 141:2, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.”
Prov 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”
Rev 5:8, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
It is possible to pray fervently in the flesh and never get through to God. It is also possible to pray quietly in the Spirit and see God’s hand do great things.
- Pray with your eyes open. In vs. 18, we are to “be on the alert,” in our prayer life. In fact, the Lord used the phrase “watch and pray” several times, as do the writers of the Bible. When Nehemiah was repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and the enemy was trying to stop the work, Nehemiah defeated the enemy by watching and praying, Neh 4:9.
Neh 4:9, “But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.”
“Watching and praying,” are the secret of victory over the world, Mark 13:33, the flesh, Mark 14:38, and the devil, Eph 6:18. On the other side, we are cautioned as Peter went to sleep when he should have been praying, and the result was victory for Satan, Mark 14:29-31, 67-72. God expects us to use our God-given senses, led by the Spirit, so that we detect Satan when he is beginning to work.
- Keep on praying. The word perseverance simply means, “to stick to it and not quit.” The early believers prayed this way, Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; and we too should pray this way, Rom 12:12.
Rom 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”
Perseverance in prayer does not mean we are trying to “twist God’s arm,” but rather that we are deeply concerned and burdened and cannot rest until we get God’s answer. And remember, as Robert Law put it, “Prayer is not getting man’s will done in heaven; it is getting God’s will done on earth,” (Tests of Life, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968]).
Most of us quit praying just before God is about to give the victory. Not everybody is so constituted that he can sincerely spend a whole night in prayer, but all of us can persevere in prayer far more than we do. As we noted above, the early church prayed without ceasing when Peter was in prison and, at the last moment, God gave them their answer, Acts 12:1-19. Keep on praying until the Spirit stops you or the Father answers you. Just about the time you feel like quitting, God will give the answer.
- Pray for all the saints. The Lord’s template for prayer begins with “Our Father,” not “My Father.” Therefore, we are to pray as part of a great family that is also talking to God, and we ought to pray for the other members of the family. Even Paul asked for the prayer support of the Church, and he had been to the third heaven and back. If Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do you and I need them! If your prayers help another believer defeat Satan, then that victory will help you too. Note that Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry.
- Ask others to pray for you. Do not be a selfish, standalone Christian. You have a very, very large church family. Think of the power that your prayers have and then multiple that power times all of the other believers who could be praying for you. As a Christian, we are not to be self-centered, egotistical, shy, or fearful. If you are afraid to let others know what you need them to prayer for on your behalf, then arrogance has overwhelmed your soul. Paul’s request for confidence and boldness in proclaiming the mystery gospel tells us a little something about him. If you recall, in his prior life as Saul, he was always behind the scenes giving encouragement or commands to persecute the church, cf. Acts 7:58; 8:1. But now as an ambassador for Christ, he is in the front and center stage. He was most likely a little awkward verbally. Therefore, he requested the prayers of the Church to throw off that awkwardness by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that he could proclaim the gospel with boldness and confidence “as he ought to.” Cf. 2 Cor 10:1. Therefore, just as Paul threw off his inhibitions and asked for help, so too should we, “as we ought to.”
Remember Mat 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Does this count?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#18-073 – 18-075
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I Welcome You to the Eternal Family of God !!!