– a reflection by Rev. John Wilson, sent to our email list –
Isaiah 59 verse 16 reads this: “The Lord looked and was displeased…He was appalled that there was no one to intervene…” (NIV). The King James puts the same verse this way: “The Lord…wondered that there was no intercessor.”
Oswald Chambers writes this about intercessory prayer:
“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 tells us that prayer is beneficial – that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implies in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.
“Worship and intercession go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the persons for whom we are praying. But often instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. When we say, ‘But God, I don’t see how You are going to do this,’ are we worshiping God, or are we disputing with Him?
“When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at God’s throne and dictate to God what we want God to do. This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. We are not seeking to conform our minds to the mind of Christ about the one for whom we are praying.
“Is there no one to intercede? One of the most subtle and illusive burdens God ever places on us is this burden of discernment concerning others. God gives us discernment so that we may accept the responsibility for those souls before Him and form the mind of Christ in us about them. If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hyprocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of criticism and ridicule, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf. We must be careful that we don’t spend all our time trying to get others right with God before we worship God ourselves.”
Hmmmmm… I was struck by the way Chambers said it: “Form in us the mind of Christ about the person for whom we are praying.” Is that what Jesus meant when He told us to pray for our enemies? Those who insult us? Those who attack us verbally? Those who are less than nice to us? Those who’ve said things against us? Are we to see them through God’s eyes BEFORE we start to pray for them?
Chambers suggests that before we put into words a prayer for someone who needs our prayer support, we need to form in our minds a picture of that person as Christ sees him or her. I believe that’s true, but I must say I find it difficult to do and I have to work at it and train my thoughts and mind to do it. How easy it is to see the other person’s faults and think we are praying for “what they need God to do to change them and make them better people,” when in fact we are simply being critical and probably feeling superior at the same time.
Let me flip that thought around for a moment. How do you think Christ sees you? What do you think is the mind of Christ concerning you? When I ask myself that question, what I hear is “John, what is Christ’s wish concerning you?” I am convinced Christ wants the best concerning me, but His vision of what is best for me may not be the same vision I have for that. No, I’m positive it isn’t the same. I hardly even think of what His vision for me is – a fact that I confess much to my embarrassment.
I believe Christ looks at each of us through the eyes of His love for us. And I know that’s not a self-indulgent love.
Am I living up to His vision for me? Am I making progress toward fulfilling His wish for me? How am I doing that?
That’s a question to ponder and let sink in…
Rev. Wilson writes a weekly reflection for everyone to read. If you would like to receive these message via email, sign up for our email list.