This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Grady Smith, Head Pastor of Gateway Baptist Church
What difference has it made in your life when someone has prayed for you? Have you ever been struggling with a sin, and had a fellow church member stop, encourage you, and pray for strength for you? Have you ever been in a trial, and had a Christian friend reach out to listen and to pray for you? I hope that each of you is in a local church community where that is your experience and where you know first-hand the joy of others praying specifically for you.
As I reflect on amazing moments in my life when others’ prayers for me made such a difference for me, I cannot help but think about something even more amazing, namely that Jesus Himself prays for us!
Hebrews 7:24-26 shows us this wonderful reality:
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. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
As amazing as the prayers of our friends are, think about the significance of Jesus praying for us. Notice how Jesus is described in these verses. He is holy, or perfect. He is exalted, which reminds us that He is the sovereign King who rules over all. He is eternal, with no beginning and no end. The author of Hebrews is holding up for us the absolute supremacy and greatness of Jesus. As one author I read put it, “He is everything we are not!” Those attributes remind us that unlike our prayers, which are flawed and limited because we are sinners, everything that Jesus prays for us will be perfect. That means that He prays to the Father about exactly what we need and what will accomplish God’s good and glorious purposes. We have perfect intercession being made on our behalf!
However, that amazing truth does not stop there. Did you notice that Hebrews 7 also tells us that Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for us? Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year, Jesus is praying for all of His people!
Andrew Murray once wrote, “Without ceasing there streams forth from Him to the Father the prayer of His love for everyone and every need of those that belong to Him.” A moment does not go by that God is not aware of your needs and where Jesus is not praying for you. Unlike us, He never sleeps and never gets distracted. He perfectly prays for what we need every moment we need it.
What exactly, though, does Jesus pray for us? Let me encourage you to read these Scripture passages and see what Jesus prays for us. Jesus prays for (1) For our faith – Luke 22:31-32 (2) For our unity together – John 17:11 (3) For us not to fall into temptation – John 17:15, and (4) For us to know His Word and grow from it – John 17:17.
However, notice that in Scripture Jesus is not praying for us to have easy, trial free lives. Rather, His perfect prayers are for things much better and more important, things like our faith, holiness, unity, and love for the Scriptures.
As you reflect on this glorious truth that Jesus perfectly prays for us, realize that it does not lead us to be passive, but rather leads us to respond. Hebrews 7 describes how God’s people respond. Notice that we “draw near to God through him.” In other words, we day by day intentionally spend time with the God who created us, redeemed us, holds us, and even prays for us.
Let me encourage you today to take time to draw near to God by opening His Word (the Bible) to read about Him, by praising Him in words and in song for who He is, by thanking Him for holding you and praying for you, and by talking to Him about what you need as well.
Grady Smith is head pastor of Gateway Baptist Church, 3300 Bell Road, in Montgomery.