Before I was a Christian I probably only prayed a handful of times. I remember when my Grandpa died I asked God to take him to heaven. One time when my parents were fighting, I asked God to make it stop. And when I was in high school, I survived a direct hit from a tornado while in my car. I prayed a lot that day! Prayer may not even be the right word for that experience, I more demanded divine help in exchange for my total obedience and surrender. I crawfished and went back on that deal before the day was done.
Crisis has a way of bringing us to an end of earthly solutions as we seek God to help us make sense of it, sort out the details, or miraculously intervene. Never feel bad for praying - even if it has been a while - even if you feel you’re bad at it - even if it’s a crisis that brings you near to God. Because the bible says that, “The Lord is near the broken hearted” (Psalm 34:18) and, “God delights in the prayers of His saints” (Proverbs 15:8). However, if the only time we are giving ourselves to prayer is when we are in desperate need, we will only experience the benefits of prayer in our poverty as a receiver. We will miss that there is so much more to prayer than praying for God to supply our needs (we call prayers of supplication). In fact, being a follower of Christ, united with Christ, means that we are being invited into a ministry of prayer. This ministry of prayer is not some lifeless and staunch religious practice or a vow of silence in a remote mountain hut. It is communion with the living and active God of the universe. It is involvement with the Spirit of God and the Son of God to the Father God.
In the Old Testament, there were priests that offered sacrifices and prayers to God on the behalf of people. These prayers and sacrifices resolved the debt of sin that someone carried and made them acceptable to God. The priests were the only ones with access to God’s manifest presence on earth. Essentially, they “sanctified” the people. It was this ministry that bridged the gap between judgement and citizenship in God’s kingdom. In the New Testament, we no longer need priests because Jesus is our perfect and eternal High Priest. The book of Hebrews lays this out perfectly, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” Hebrews 7:23-25 ESV.
Jesus’ priesthood is eternal because His perfect sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection mean that He has overcome sin and has paid its debt, “but as it is he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). While the Old Testament priests had to continually offer sacrifices to bring us near to God, Jesus went as a forerunner on our behalf, tearing down the curtain of the most holy place so that all those who follow Jesus can come to God with confidence. “Therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary (the holiest place) by the blood of Jesus… and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Heb. 10:19-20).
If we are united with Christ, having been saved and sanctified by His blood, and we have full access to God through the eternal priesthood of Jesus, then we will find our Savior and Messiah doing something very special and unique. Look at what He is doing…
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Heb. 7:25 ESV
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34 ESV
Jesus is praying! According to many passages in the bible, He is right now interceding for us in the presence of God. This is His ministry and, as ones who are united to Christ, it is ours! And what about the Holy Spirit? Romans 8:27 says, “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." The Spirit is interceding also! We can say that walking with Jesus, by His Spirit, means we are by nature, intercessors … people of prayer. We are a priesthood, whose ministry is prayer. And it is because we are accepted into the presence of the One who holds life itself in His hands, that we pray with confidence, faith, and purpose. Not only are we accepted but we are expected to be God’s holy, interceding, priesthood. God is ready to move and work through our prayers for the good of all people and for His glory. Like Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we are practicing priesthood through prayer. It is every Christian’s priestly vocation. It is our birth-right, our inheritance to pray, yes, but also to be intercessors for all that God wants to do around us. Will you join Jesus?
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2