Pastor Vince ended our series on “The House of Prayer” with a truly powerful lesson on “Jesus is praying for YOU.” Vince drew his text from Luke 22, on Jesus’ encounter with Peter on the eve of the crucifixion.
“‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows today, you will deny three times that you know me’ (verses 31 – 34). “
Peter in his religious fervour states his conviction that he will run the whole course with Jesus. But Jesus is ahead of him. He tells him some hard truths including his upcoming denial. Yet, Jesus is praying for him, that in his testing, his sifting like wheat, that he will be strong. Jesus even in the face of betrayal and denial is praying for his own.
Vince noted Jesus’ prayer on the eve of the passion, when “it is finished,” is not the end of the story. Romans 8:34b proclaims that “Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us,” He has gone to glory, but even still intercedes. Just like for Peter. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and has us, yes even us, on His lips!
In John’s account of the same evening, a longer version of Jesus’ prayer is given to us. He prays again for us who are in the world, but no longer of the world. He petitions God for our unity, and for our love for one another. He prays for our strength, again as He prayed for Peter’s.
The standard of our love and unity is set out in John 17 as well. As the Father and Son are one, so shall be His people. This unity is a relationship of openness and honesty. James 5:16 calls upon us to “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” We as a body are the Body of Christ. We corporately are drawn to God as individuals. It is in this common attraction to God, the common purpose and relationship that we come together to be one. Confessing our weaknesses removes obstacles. It helps us meld. Yes it is a frightening proposition to reveal our faults to others, but again we can look at the standard Jesus set: As He and the Father are one.
In so doing, our first duty to one struggling is not chastisement, but love. We confess our sins so that “we can be prayed for and healed.” That is unity. Christ resurrected sits on the throne in priestly fashion interceding for us night and day, and Christ’s body -the Church – prays for us in our weaknesses.
Again the parallel to Peter is astonishing. He was struggling, he was to be sifted like wheat, and he was prayed for so that he could come through the other end. And he did!
Jesus prayed that Peter come through and then strengthen his brethren. He did deny Jesus, he wept, he hid, he repented! On the shores of the lake the risen Jesus asked him three times if Peter loved Him. Three times (the same as the number of denials) he affirmed he did. Each time Jesus charged him to feed or tend to His lambs and sheep. “Peter teach, guide, and uplift My church.” The prophecy of the night of the Last Supper was fulfilled. The prayer of Jesus was in action.
Even still Jesus prays for His people. Even YOU and me. Let us too, be people of prayer. Let us give our prayers “legs.” Let us strive for the righteousness which will avail our prayers much. Let us be a people of unceasing prayer. Let us be “A House of Prayer.”
Thank you Pastor Vince, for this message. It is in a worldly sense a “show stopper.” I pray that it will in a spiritual sense be a “show starter.” Let us now see that fire of God in our lives.