Preparing My Heart
The prayer request comes over the phone via our congregational hot line. Or I get a cryptic text message from a distressed friend. Or I suddenly remember the need shared during testimony time last Sunday morning. Or I read in a news source about a Christian or church group under pressure and testing.
Now what? “Pray without ceasing” sure could turn into a time-consuming, energy-burning activity! If that bothers me or deters me, I obviously need more love and commitment…. I do want God to be able to count on me!
Making the Bible Personal
What moves me to pray for my church leaders?
Under what circumstances do I and my church pray without ceasing?
How should I pray for oppressed ones in my congregation?
Does my faith reach only as far as I can see or figure out?
From where do I draw peace in my adversity?
What do I know about the astonishing works of God?
Reviewing Basic Truths
In His wisdom, God does not deliver many of His people from martyrdom.
Praying for the oppressed shouldn’t be only for their physical deliverance.
Human security measures pose no challenge to God.
Despite our faith, God’s answers to our prayers can still surprise us.
Applying God’s Word to Me
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I wonder if the Jerusalem church prayed for James to the degree that they prayed for Peter. Perhaps they did or perhaps James’ death galvanized them to more earnest prayer for Peter. Whatever the case with James, God did choose to inform us that “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God” for Peter.
Though we know they were astonished at Peter’s literal physical deliverance from prison, we don’t know the specifics of their petitions to God for him. And that is OK. From other Scriptures we can get very specific ideas to “fuel” our own praying for one another.
“I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32).
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).
“Praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3).
“Through your prayers I shall be given unto you” (Philemon 22).
“Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication…for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
And in all our praying, we also have this extraordinarily reassuring promise:
“We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings” (Romans 8:26).
This concludes my comments based on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications. To read my comments on the passage for the International Bible Lesson, click here: Paul’s Proclamation in Rome.