January 25, 2023

January 25, 2023

Author: Pastor Bernard Ibrahim
January 25, 2023

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

This passage struck me as another one of those passages where the apostle asks for prayer from the people he's writing to. And he often says, “Pray for us.” Or you may remember at the end of that passage of Ephesian 6, “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication,” talking to us about the importance of prayer when he talks about the elements of our spiritual armor. Then he goes right into a request, “To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints and also for me, that words may be given to me, and opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”

So he gives them the importance of prayer, and then tells some specifically what he needs prayer for is that boldness in the gospel.

In our passage here he relays a life and death experience. I don't think this is just some kind of imagery, or some kind of exaggeration. He and his colleagues that were with him felt that they were going to die. Whatever persecution it was, they felt, “That's the end.” But God saved them and he doesn't come out of that saying, “Well, I guess I don't need anybody's prayers. We can just live and depend on God, and they say we have set our hope on God and He will deliver us again.” So his hope is yet in God, that doesn't change.

What I find interesting is, he tells his readers they need to pray. “You must help us by prayer.” All understood this mystery, which is really - our prayers are part of that spiritual work, that mysterious work that God does for His people. It is a critical component of the eternal, all powerful God who expects us human beings (finite, very weak) to pray for God's will. In this case, to pray for the safety or effectiveness of the apostle Paul, the effectiveness of the ministry, and so that God would receive the glory.

You see right there, “You also must help us.” It's an actual help word there, it's an actual support, “Where by prayer or supplication (or that word could be petition), so that many will give thanks.” And it's understood, “To God on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers.” We pray, we ask for God's help for those that we're praying for, so that we can give thanks and glory to God when He answers our prayers.

The apostle Paul saw the work of God, the work that God gave him, the work that God gives each one of us; that prayer is required, prayer is essential.

I found this is as an encouragement that the apostle Paul, whose mission is clear from the Lord, from the time he was saved, of what he was supposed to be doing. Here we have a wonderful example to follow.

And very similar to our Lord Jesus Christ, though, being the Son of God, and being God, he prayed regularly. The apostle Paul is asking for prayers, and it encouraged me to ask for prayer for myself. We should ask for prayer for one another daily. And we should share when the Lord answers those prayers, so that our brothers and sisters can give thanks.

This is literally the example that God gives us here and the apostle Paul. It is for the encouragement, comfort, and really blessing of those Christians there. He's telling them, “Pray, pray for me, and then you will have opportunity to give thanks, to give Glory to God when he answers your prayers.”

It is a critical component, it's not optional. He's talking in this case about life and death situations, or in Ephesians, in the salvation of many and the spreading of the gospel.

So with that in mind hopefully that gives us more energy to pray for one another. Pray for these missionaries, churches and pastors that we hear from, pray for our country, pray for those who we know have great needs, and they need help. They need help from God, and the best way, and in many cases the only way we can help is that we pray for them.