Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:17-19)
As ambassadors for Christ’s Kingdom, we are charged with the same mission as that of Adam and Eve, Israel, and the apostles: to extend the borders and boundaries of the Kingdom of God and to increase people’s knowledge of Him.
Neither Adam and Eve nor Israel were able to fulfil what God had in mind for them, their sin ensuring that they could not remain in the holy place of His presence. He banished Adam and Eve from the garden and Israel, He threatened to destroy in their idolatry, and on one more than one occasion sent them into exile.
But God raised up intercessors to stand in the gap to forward this all-important work of reconciliation between people everywhere and Himself. We are priests, ministering in the breach between how things are and how God desires them to be. AS the Body of Christ, we lift people to Him and, like Moses who boldly sought both God’s favour and His mercy on behalf of Israel, He hears our prayers. (See Ex. 32: 9-14; 30-33; cf Amos 7:1-8)
It is a robust work, and requires that we be single-minded in intervening on behalf of people and situations that desperately need His saving grace – even if we initially appear to meet with as little encouragement as the Syro-Phoenician woman did when she first approached Jesus for help. (Matt. 15:21-28) There are many good reasons why Jesus taught more about the need for perseverance in prayer than any other single quality relating to the subject!
Praise God for the multitudes of ‘forceful’ intercessors through the centuries who have travailed in prayer and made great sacrifices to ‘move the hand of God,’ so that many might come first to a saving knowledge of Christ, and then to a fuller knowledge of Him. (Gal. 4:19) These are people who accomplished astonishing things in prayer because they allowed the Lord to deal with whatever hindered their walk with Him, or distracted them from seeking His face and His Kingdom.
It is so inspiring to spend time, whether physically or through their writings, in the company of these mighty men and women who have learnt to move the hand of God in prayer! Their labours lead to a harvest of souls for Christ, and so it is good to remind and refresh ourselves from time to time by drawing on the inspiration that they give us.
To take but two from amongst the host of praying pioneers and lovers of God, I thought it would be refreshing to remind ourselves of the examples of David Brainard, with his great heart for native Americans, and ‘Praying Hyde,’ – a man with a tremendous understanding of the word of the Lord, whose prayers God used greatly on behalf of India. His sacrificial intercession at the start of the twentieth century undoubtedly forms a major part of the foundation for so much of what God is doing in that vast nation today.
One of Praying Hyde’s personal notes has now, by God’s foresight and economy, circulated far and wide:
“O that I might live nearer to God this year than I did the last . . . May I for the future be enabled more sensibly to make the glory of God my all, and live to God in every capacity of life. May I never loiter in my heavenly journey . . . and may this blessed work prevail among the poor Indians here as well as spread elsewhere till the remotest tribes shall see the salvation of God! Amen.”
May we likewise allow more of the Lord’s heart burden and compassion to pour through every fibre of our being!
Father, grant to many of us the ability to identify with people and situations that range all the way from the grandest international stage right down to situations that we find ourselves involved in – and to hear You speaking about them. Direct us to hear Your word of command and to pray the radical prayers that on Your heart! Be with us as we seek to unpack various flashpoints around and to pray for the checking and restraint of evil, and for the advance of Your Kingdom.