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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Praying Like Jesus

Dear and treasured friend,

This week, I am writing a study guide to go along with my book, Praying Like Jesus. My mind and my heart are immersed in the beauty of the Scripture in John 17, where Jesus lets us overhear His prayers on our behalf. For caregivers, in particular, knowing that the very Son of God and Holy Spirit of God are standing with us in prayer can be a source of immeasurable strength.

There is much here in this passage that is consistent with the Romans 8 passage we've been considering in this blog over the last several weeks. So, as this week's devotional thought, I hope you'll indulge me ... rather than write something brand new, I'm going to excerpt a portion of chapter 51 (the second to the last) from Praying Like Jesus. I do this in hopes that it will encourage your heart to catch this glimpse of how very much the Son of God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit truly love you.

Oh, and if you love what you read and are interested in the rest of the story (the whole book, currently available in print; soon to be available with study guide in electronic and audio MP3 formats), zap me an email and my office will let you know how to order your own copy in your preferred format.

So, here 'tis:

When Jesus took on human form, He limited Himself to time and space. He could appear in only one place at a time. He could only be with one group of followers at a time. But once He ascended to the Father and His glory was reinstated, He again assumed the characteristics of the Godhead, which include omniscience (all knowledge), omnipotence (all power), and omnipresence (presence in all places). So Jesus can be in me, here in suburban Chicagoland, at the same time that He is in you, no matter where in this universe you are. The Holy Spirit, too, has this inherent ability. Without omniscience and omnipresence Their continuous intercession for every believer could not take place.


Let’s look at two passages in Romans 8 that enlighten us to this promise. First, we encounter the fact that the Holy Spirit gains God’s ear on our behalf and mediates for us in words superior to ours, making requests that are more suited for us than anything we could ask for ourselves. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (26–27). Marvin Vincent, in his study of words in the Epistles, writes that the Spirit “throws Himself into our case; takes part in it.”1 If we want to pray in God’s will, we can trust God’s Spirit to do that for us—as He groans with us, as He grieves for our trials, as He shares our pains, as He exposes our sins. I can’t imagine a more loving picture than that of a God who searches our hearts—an intimate knowledge no human could share—then speaks on our behalf in emotive heavenly sounds that are superior to human language.

A few verses later, Paul says Jesus, too, intercedes for believers. “Who is he that condemns? 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” (Romans 8:34). The context adds a rich layer to the intercession. Because Jesus is strategically placed at God’s right hand interceding for us, no one can charge us falsely before God, no one can place a wedge of separation between God and us. Jesus sees to that. When the accuser (Satan) wags his finger at me before God, Jesus tells the Father, “This one is covered by My blood. No one can condemn her; she belongs to Me.” That’s a fact even the accuser can’t rebut.

In Hebrews, the writer pictures Jesus as the new and eternal High Priest who comes before God the Father to present petitions for His people. I love the phrase in Hebrews 7:25: “He always lives to intercede for them.” Jesus lives to intercede for you and me. This is what He always does. Every moment He approaches the Father on our behalf. Marvin Vincent elaborates that Jesus “is eternally meeting us at every point and intervening in all our affairs for our benefit.”2

Being a curious sort, I’ve wondered what the Spirit and Jesus say to the Father about me. The answer to that question is what this study has sought to uncover. What does God say to God; or, to put it another way, what do members of the Trinity say to each other? We have listened in on the communication between the Son and the Father as we have studied John 17. Another part of the answer can be found in something Jesus said to Peter on the night of the high priestly prayer. The disciples were in the Upper Room where they had shared the Passover meal. The eleven faithful men had pledged their allegiance to the Master. Then Christ said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31–32a). I tend to believe that Jesus continues to pray for us that despite all worldly temptations our faith may not fail.

For our own prayers, the end result of the fact of our two highly placed heavenly Intercessors is stated in Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

1. Marvin R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies Vol. 4: Epistles, electronic ed. (Hiawatha, Ia.: Parsons Technology, Inc.), s.v. “Intercessions.”



2. Ibid.

Excerpted by permission from Praying Like Jesus, (c) 2001, 2010 Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint information, write to Joy at orders@joymediaservices.com

Blessings to you today, my friends,

Julie

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