October 19, 2022

October 19, 2022

Author: Pastor Mark Bauer
October 19, 2022

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers and intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people.”

1Timothy 2:1

In this verse there are a number of different forms of prayer that are listed, and within this list we find the word “intercessions.” And so tonight I'd like us to briefly just consider intercessory prayer. So, as we think of what does it mean to intercede, several definitions that we have to intercede is to intervene in someone else's cause. Another definition is to make an appeal on someone else's behalf. Then again, another is to seek to persuade someone in authority to forgive another. So as we think of interceding as in terms of prayer. Intercessory prayer then I think is not focused on ourselves. But it's prayer that's focused on behalf of others. I think, there are a number of examples of intercessory prayer in our bible. But one example that came to mind was that of the centurion who goes to Jesus on behalf of his servant. Now, while the example of the centurion is a great example of faith, I also see in him a great example of a man who is interceding on behalf of the needs of another person. Another man in this case is the servant in the account (Luke 7:3-4). In Matthew, chapter 8 beginning in verse 5, we read this: when, he being Jesus, had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, Lord my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.

We see here a centurion. I think as we all know a centurion is an officer in a Roman army. I think it’s unusual that he came to Jesus a Jew. What now? Whether he came in person or whether he came by proxy, because in Luke's account and the parallel account, Luke says that the centurion had sent elders of the Jews asking Jesus to come and heal a servant. But in either case we see that that the centurion is going to Jesus. Coming to him, and the manner in which he comes, I see it as a manner of humility. He doesn't come demanding that Jesus do this, not expecting some type of preferential treatment because he's a Roman centurion an officer with great rank. No, he comes to appeal giving us the sense that he's begging Jesus for help in the account, and in Luke are the proxies that he sends. The Jewish elders are also said to be pleading earnestly on behalf of the servant. Note again that this appeal is not for himself. It's not for his personal needs. it's not even focused on his family, not his own flesh and blood. It's not even focused on a peer or a colleague. It’s no focused on another Roman soldier or a friend. No, it is focused on a servant, and this term servant could actually be translated “slave.” He's coming to Jesus on behalf of a slave of his. I think it's also interesting for us to note that the centurion is aware of the needs of his servant. He took notice of the sufferings of his servant in his household. He knew the condition of him, that he was paralyzed and that he was suffering terribly as a result of it. The servant wasn't able to go to Jesus himself and because of that he is in desperate need. The centurion then takes action himself and goes on behalf of his servant to seek help from Jesus. He appeals to Jesus to heal His servant and in response to this centurion’s appeal we read that Jesus said to him, I will come and heal.

But then we read of the centurion's faith in verse 8. He the replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed, for I am a man under authority with soldiers under me, and I say to one Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he comes, Do this, and he does it.” And then in verse 10 we read: “When Jesus heard this, he marveled, and He said to those who followed him, truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Jesus answers the request and heals the servant. In verse 13 we read and to the centurion Jesus said, “Go, let it be done for you, as you have believed.” The servant was healed at that very moment.

Well, I think there are many of us who are very familiar with this account of the centurion, but as I was thinking about it in terms of intercessory prayer, I think there’s some lessons we can learn that should mark our intercessory prayers. I think one thing that should mark our intercessory prayers is to begin with knowledge. When we intercede in prayer for others we need to be aware of their needs. The centurion was aware of the needs of his entire household, even down to his servants within the household. So we should too be ready to take notice of the needs of others in order that we may offer prayers on their behalf. Charles Spurgeon said, You cannot pray well for those you know nothing about, and so I think it's an encouragement for us to seek to have a knowledge of the needs of our brethren and the needs of others so that we can intercede on their behalf. Secondly, I think our intercessory prayers should be marked by humility. Dependency on Jesus for any accessory prayers should be a response recognizing only Jesus is the one who can meet the needs for those that we're praying for. The centurion knew he was unable to save his servant. He was not able to heal his servant, who was suffering despite his high rank, despite his office in the Roman army, and a commander of a 100. He probably was a greatly capable man, but yet this issue, this need of his servant was beyond him. He recognizes that he himself is unable to heal his servant, and then that drives him to humbly go to Jesus.

So I suggest that we seek to learn of the needs of others, needs that may be physical, emotional, or perhaps spiritual. Often times we ourselves, we realize we cannot meet the needs of our brethren—those that we hear of who are in great need. There's nothing we can do to help them nothing other than to pray for them--go to the throne of grace and intercede on their behalf. And as we go we should go humbly recognizing our own inability and trusting in and having absolute dependence upon Christ and Him alone to be able to answer our prayers. But I also think that in this example of the centurion we see that he comes to Jesus with fervency in his prayer request. So I suggest that as we intercede in prayer for others, we need to come with a sincere concern for their needs. When the centurion came he was making an appeal. As I said before, it was though he was begging, pleading with Jesus, asking for help for his servant, who was suffering greatly. And so, when we see the needs of others, and we see their desperate condition, it should, stir our hearts to come before the Lord, and plead Him earnestly on their behalf, bringing the needs of others to the throne of grace, praying that God would be merciful to help the person who is in need. Finally, I suggest that in this example, so like the centurion, we should pray in faith as with all of our prayers. We should pray in faith to the Lord—the Lord who has the authority over all. His ears are open to our cry. He hears our prayers, he hears our requests, and he is the one who has power. He is the one who has authority. He is the one who can answer our intercessory prayers.

So as I considered the centurion, I think it should help us. Consider our intercessory prayers and see if they are marked by our knowledge. Be aware of the needs of others, our humility and our dependency on Christ, a level of fervency. Let us have a sincere concern for the needs of others and have faith in Christ to hear and answer our prayers. Go to the throne of grace and intercede on their behalf. And as we go we should go humbly recognizing our own inability, trusting and having absolute dependence upon Christ and Him alone to be able to answer our prayers.