Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The Lord looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
According to what they have done,
so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.
From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord,
and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
that the breath of the Lord drives along.
“The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the Lord.
- Isaiah 59:15-20
“The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse [Isaiah 59:16] that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.
“Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, ‘But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this’? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.
“Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?
“Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work— work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Are we interceding or are we telling God and others what to do? I often get prayer requests, as part of the church’s prayer team. Instead of praying the prayer request as written, I often pray for the person requesting prayer.
Why start there? For one, they are hurting enough to know that their puny prayers may not be enough. They need help. That is good and bad. In placing someone on the prayer list, the person is acknowledging the power of God and our inability to deal with the situation. It also acknowledges the efficacy of intercessory prayer and kick starts that intercessory prayer. But the bad part of that is that God can listen to you, personally, and answer your prayer. When we think our prayer is puny, we cheapen the relationship between us and God. God is all-powerful; God wants a personal relationship with each of us, with Him being interested in the minutia of our lives, like how many hairs we have on our head. So, would I get a better result from turning in a prayer request to the prayer warriors or getting on my knees and praying myself? Doing both is great. Thinking that we cannot do it on our own, because our prayer is puny is simply wrong. Our God is bigger than that and He cares for us much more than that.
But the second part of my prayer for the requester is what the requester often adds to the request. “Pray for complete healing.” “Pray that they will be able to walk without assistance or a cane.” “Pray that they will be healed beyond any need for medication.”
Complete healing occurs at death. That seems to be a horrible thing to pray for since the requester loves that person and wants more time to be with them. But complete healing by death rids the loved one of all pain. If the person being prayed for has accepted Jesus, there will be great reward in dying. But you and I both know that is not what the requester meant.
Not needing assistance, a cane, or medicine is overdoing it. I take eighteen pills throughout the day and I put eye drops in my eyes at bedtime. I use a CPAP at night when I sleep, and I use a cane when I am out of the house. Inside the house, I know which way I can fall to catch myself or simply sit quickly on a bed or chair. Once seated, if anyone noticed, I might add the Tim Hawkins attitude, “That’s how I roll!!!” You know, so that I do not have to admit that I really got wobbly and fell into the chair. In public, I cannot dictate where chairs must be, so the cane is a big help. Honestly, I have thought of carrying a folding chair while standing in a long line. You know, you get wobbly and in one quick motion, you unfold and sit in the chair. If others get jealous, they can bring a chair next time. They never need to know that if I did not have the chair, I would be on the floor asking someone to help me back up.
The point is that the need for a cane or a medication can be a daily reminder that we also need God, which might be the reason why God allowed that infliction in the first place. Praying to take that reminder away would be against God’s will.
And that is the big problem that I have with those specific requests and the reason why I pray more earnestly for the requester. We need to intercede, but as Chambers says above, we need to seek God’s will rather than tell God what to do.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.