By Vance Drum
On Sunday the Sunset pastor continued our series “Drilling Deep, Drawing Near,” with a message, “Conversations with God: We Pray and God Answers.” The text was from 2 Corinthians 1:10: “On him we have set our hope…as you help us by your prayers.”
Today’s message has to do with intercession, which means to pray for the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being of others.
The pastor made three points: (1) God-Sized Problems; (2) Intervening by Prayer; (3) Answering by Deliverance.
(1) God-Sized Problems. V8-9: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.”
Have you ever been under great pressure, so much that you thought you couldn’t endure it, and you were wondering if you were even going to survive? Paul says that this great pressure came to him, but it was with a purpose in God’s plan.
V9: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” We know from Easter Sunday that God is the expert in raising the dead. God is the master of impossible situations. God allowed Paul’s hardships to come so that Paul might rely not on human strength and ingenuity but on God, who is able to help.
I believe we face some fairly impossible — but, with God’s help, not hopeless — situations in our personal lives, families, communities, nation and world. We have health, financial, social and interpersonal relationship crises which we don’t know how to handle.
We have an epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual promiscuity leading to fatherless children, overcrowded prisons, and abortion. In our country everybody seems to hate everybody else; we don’t get along, and we can hardly even talk about it. Our national debt is over $21 trillion, up from $5 trillion in 2000, and personal debt is out of control for many. In the world it seems everybody is threatening to blow up everybody else.
These are God-sized problems that we, as humans with our human wisdom, seem to have no answer for. What should we do? What can we do? The first thing we need to do is pray. We must recognize our need for wisdom and strength greater than ours, to “rely not on ourselves but on God,” and ask Him for help. Without His help, we may find ourselves relaxing in deck chairs, sipping tea on the Titanic.
(2) Intervening by Prayer. In the midst of his hardships, Paul said: (v11) “you help us by your prayers.” The obstacles in Paul’s life were extreme.
Paul ended up writing most of the New Testament, establishing more churches than anyone in the First Century, and withstanding the constant attacks of the enemy, but he did it only by the help of the saints of God in their prayers.
Paul said (2 Thessalonians 3:1): “Pray for us, that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored…and pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith….”
Paul faced a non-Christian, pagan world, full of wickedness, and he was the point of God’s spear in the nonviolent proclamation of the Good News of God’s love.
(3) Answering by Deliverance. V10: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…in answer to the prayers of many.”
It’s our place not to fix all the problems of the world on our own; indeed, we cannot. It’s our place to bring in outside power (God’s), and to do what he leads us to do, while we pray. He does it as we work on it, with prayer! Let us be faithful to pray.
“Let him give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” [Psalm 107:8-9]
May the Lord bless you this week with his unfailing love — our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.