by Jeff Wolverton
Sentry Magazine, December 2002
Jesus as Our Intercessor
The intercession of the Holy Spirit does not set aside the intercession of Jesus Christ. "And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27). Verse 27 of the foregoing quotation refers to the intercession of Jesus, for it is He who "knows what is in the mind of the Spirit" and "makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." In order that our prayers may be complete as they are taken by Jesus to the Father, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us by expressing in our prayers what we, because of the limitation of our understanding, cannot express for ourselves.
Prayer in the Life of Jesus
The importance of prayer is best exemplified in the life of Jesus, our perfect example. He relied on prayer constantly as the means of maintaining communion with God the Father.
An example of the reliance of our Lord upon the strength and care of God in prayer was His petition in the garden of Gethsemane as He faced persecution and death:
"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus was mindful of the need for praise and thanksgiving in his prayers to God: "I praise Thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (Matthew 11:25).
Jesus prayed not only for Himself but for others. He was solicitous for the welfare of His disciples. For example, He prayed for their protection against evil and for their unity. See John 17:15,20-21). The Lord prayed not only for His followers but also for His enemies. "Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
Nothing is more characteristic of the life of Jesus than His constant attention to prayer. Are we following His example by continuing steadfastly in prayer?
Can We Pray to Jesus?
Some brethren say Christians can only pray to God the Father and not Jesus. They say that Stephens' prayer in Acts 7:59 is just a one-time special circumstance because he saw Jesus.
l John 5:13-15 shows that praying to Jesus is acceptable. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." Verse 13 says "Son of God", and the "Him" and "He" in verses 14 and 15 refer back to the one mentioned in verse 13, the "Son of God."
One of the greatest unifying influences in the church is the praying together of Christians.
Husbands and wives, sons and daughters, who do not pray together fail to take advantage of the greatest force of all, the strength of God in maintaining a home in which harmony, peace, love, and good will prevail. Indeed, families that pray together stay together.
The prayers offered to God in public worship are an integral part of the spiritual welfare and development of Christians and of the maintenance of harmony and unity in the church. The New Testament gives special emphasis on praying in public worship. Cf. Acts 2:42; 4:24-31; 12:12; I Corinthians 14:14-15.
Public prayer is not a substitute for private prayer. Likewise, private prayer is not a substitute for public prayer. Both are greatly important to the spiritual welfare of every child of God.
[The majority of the material in these lessons was liberally borrowed from the Bible tract Prayer by James Tolle. The tract can be purchased from the Truth Bookstore.]