The Church Uniting In Prayer
By Andrew Murray
United, continued waiting on God is to Paul the only hope of the Church. When the Holy Spirit came, the life of the Lord in heaven entered the world. Nothing but unbroken communication with heaven can keep it up.
The Apostle Paul’s prayers prove that he does not count prayer any special privilege of an apostle. He calls the humblest and simplest believer to claim his right. And he does not think that only the new converts or feeble Christians need prayer. As a member of the body, he himself is dependent upon his brethren and their prayers.
After Paul had preached the Gospel for twenty years, he still asked for prayer that he may speak as he ought to speak. Grace must be sought and brought down from heaven for his work – not once for all, not for a period of time, but day by day, and that without ceasing. Listen how he asks for prayer from the Church and with what earnestness: "I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them which do not believe in Judea…and may come unto you with joy by the will of God" (Rom. 15:30-32).
"…in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us" (2 Cor. 1:10-11). "…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…for all saints; and for me…that I may open my mouth boldly… that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Eph. 6:18-20). "I know that this [trouble] shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:19). "Continue in prayer…withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ…that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak" (Col. 4:2-4). "Brethren, pray for us" (1 Thes. 5:25). "…I trust that through your prayers I shall be given to you" (Phlm. 22).
As much as Paul looked to his Lord in heaven did he look to his brethren on earth, to secure the supply of the Spirit for him. The Spirit from heaven and prayer on earth were to him inseparably linked.
Does the work of intercession take the place in the Church it ought to have? Is it a thing commonly understood in the Lord’s work, that everything depends upon getting from God that "supply of the Spirit of Christ" that alone can give our work its real power to bless? This is Christ’s Divine order for all work, His own and that of His servants. This is the order Paul followed: first, come every day as having nothing and receive from God "the supply of the Spirit" in intercession. Then go and impart what has come to you from heaven.
In all His instructions, our Lord Jesus spoke much oftener to His disciples about their praying than their preaching. In the farewell discourse, He said little about preaching, but much about the Holy Spirit, and their asking whatsoever they would in His Name. If we are to really accept the truth every day that our first work, our only strength, is intercession to secure the power of God on the souls entrusted to me – then we must have the courage to confess past sin, and to believe there is deliverance from failures.
It will not be easy at first to break through old habits, to resist the clamour of pressing duties that have always had their way, to make every other call subordinate to this one, whether others approve or not. But the men or women who are faithful will not only have a reward themselves, but will become benefactors to their brethren. "…thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in" (Isa. 58:12).
Is It Really Possible?
Can it indeed be that those who have never been able to face, much less to overcome the difficulty, yet become mighty in prayer? Was it really possible for Jacob to become Israel – a prince who prevailed with God? It was. "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27). Have you not received from the Father as the great fruit of Christ’s redemption, the Spirit of supplication, the Spirit of intercession?
Pause and think what that means. Will you still doubt whether God is able to make you princes who prevail with Him? Let us banish all fear, and in faith claim the grace for which we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, the grace of supplication and of intercession. Let us quietly, perseveringly, believe that He lives in us, and will enable us to do our work. Let us in faith not fear to accept and yield to the great truth that intercession, as it is the great work of the King on the throne, is the great work of His servants on earth.
We have the Holy Spirit who brings the Christ-life into our hearts, to fit us for this work. Let us at once begin and stir up the gift within us. As we set aside each day our time for intercession, and count upon the Spirit’s enabling power, the confidence will grow that we can, in our measure, follow Paul even as he followed Christ.
– Abridged from The Ministry Of Intercession by Andrew Murray.