Scripture | Philippians 1:18-26
One of the hardest things to do is watch people you love go through difficult times and be unable to change their situation, or be unable to change our own situations. Feeling powerless as we—or those we love—go through hard times, we can quickly become frustrated, scared and sad. We know that Paul had a strong relationship with the Philippians, and we know that the Philippians loved Paul dearly. In the season that Paul is writing this letter to them, he was in the Roman prison. The struggles that the Philippian church watched Paul endure broke their hearts. They were 800 miles away and had no political power to change his situation. But they knew the power of prayer, so they prayed to God and their prayers changed everything. Paul wrote, “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance…” (Philippians 1:18-19). Barry told us that God acts when his people intercede for one another, and this is something that is still true for us today.
To intercede means “to intervene on behalf of another.” We see this in many different places throughout the Bible, like when Moses intercedes on the behalf of Israel. Just like Moses interceded for the people of Israel, we see the Philippians going to God in prayer on behalf of Paul. This is important because God partners with His people in order to bring about His desires. Barry told us that there is a direct correlation between the prayers of his people and His actions. James told the early church, “You do not have because you do not ask…” (James 4:2). The Philippians accepted God’s invitation to partner with Him to bring about His desires for the church in interceding for Paul, and we get the same invitation to partner with God in prayer.
Barry said that in prayers of intercession we should seek to be aware of God’s desires for someone and join Him in what He is doing. It does not mean manipulating God to do our will, but rather becoming aware of God’s desires for someone and joining Him in that. Paul wrote, “I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance…” (Philippians 1:19) Paul knew that the Philippians were praying for God to help him. We know God wanted good for Paul and desired his deliverance, and that is exactly what He provided. In difficult situations, it is so easy to become discouraged and frustrated, but we need to remember that God is good and desires good for His children. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
We are told in 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” Then Hebrews 4:16 says, “Come boldly to his throne of grace.” Barry told us that when we are praying God’s heart for his children, we can come to Him confidently. Even in hearing this, we don’t always feel like we can go confidently to God in prayer because we worry we will pray for the wrong things. Often times we will, because none of us can discern the will of God perfectly; however, we can trust God and know that He is good—that He will not give someone something they don’t need or that isn’t good for them simply because we asked for it. Romans 8:26-27 tells us that when we don’t pray for the right things, or don’t know what to pray at all, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God! And Romans 8:34 says that Jesus in interceding for us as well!
So let us boldly approach the throne of God through prayer: for ourselves, for one another, and for our city and our world. Let us give thanks for the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ who intercede for us, and for our God who hears every word of our prayers. Let us intercede for one another just as the Philippian church did for Paul.