Tuesday, February 8, 2022
The church I pastor is incredible. I am so blessed to serve the Lord at a servant-hearted, spiritually-minded, caring, giving, and praying group of people. It is an honor to be their pastor.
The praying part is especially strong. Not only do we pray about everything, but we pray for everyone, no matter what their need. It is a church of true intercession. Every Sunday morning there are people who pray before the worship service so that God’s Word is proclaimed in all its truth and people’s lives are transformed by its power. During each worship service we take a SELAH break – you know about SELAH from the Psalms, right? – and we pray for each other’s needs. Sometimes people even move about the sanctuary so they can be a part of praying for those with needs.
The Scriptures give us plenty of examples of people who pray for one another. In today’s Bible reading from the pen of the Apostle John, he states that he has been praying for his friend Gaius.
3 John 1:2-4 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
John prays for three things. At first glance you may only notice two, but the third is really the most important, and we must discover it if we are to be true intercessors.
First he prays that Gaius would be in good health. A considerable proportion of the prayer requests we receive each Sunday and throughout the week have to do with health issues. But the health of a person is not their single most important need. In fact, good health is nothing more than the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
Second, John prays that all would go well with Gaius. This can be applied to so many areas of our lives – from business to relationships to finances and on goes the list. Some have interpreted John’s prayer as a promise, and believe that with enough faith we can guarantee prosperity. That’s a huge stretch from John’s own condition at the end of his life when he was a political exile on a remote island, banished there for his faith. His faith brought him suffering, not success. Yet suffering for Christ is the benchmark of identification with Christ.
John puts both of these requests for his friend into their proper perspective with his third request – he prayed that Gaius’ soul would be getting along well. Here is the highpoint of intercessory prayer. John’s greatest joy was to receive news that one of his spiritual children was growing in his faith, being faithful to the truth, and living his life in obedience to that truth.
Today’s lesson is this – when we pray for others, our highest prayer for them must be for their spiritual health and prosperity, not their physical. It is good and acceptable to pray for their physical needs, but don’t stop there. Make sure you always pray primarily for their spiritual development and growth through whatever physical circumstance they are experiencing. All of God’s answers to our physical needs are temporary and will die with us. All of God’s answers to our prayers for spiritual health and prosperity bring fuller life, and that life will never die. When we pray, let’s pray for what really matters.