The night Jesus was arrested he prayed to the Father for all his followers, including you and me. While we pray to God in Jesus’s name it’s amazingly encouraging to know he prays for us.
Today’s prayer – let Jesus pray for you! Get your Bible and find John 17. Find a private place and read this remarkable chapter aloud. When you come to the line, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message” (Verse 20) pause and thank Jesus. Thank him for thinking of you, personally, and for including you in his intercession to the Father.
Now a question: Do you think Jesus gets his prayers answered? Do you imagine that the Father hears and responds? Of course. Which means the Father heard – and still hears – this prayer for you, and responds for you. And what’s more, what Jesus prays is that the Father will love us and respond to our prayers just as completely as he loves and responds to Jesus’ prayers. And if the Father answers Jesus that means he also answers you!
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:5)
Children learn to talk. We too have been learning, talking with God in fits and starts ourselves. We half imagine that we are real adults, mature, stable and important in our own corners of the world. But truth be, we are children ourselves, and nothing shows this more than our quest to communicate with God. We are just beginning our eternal lives, so in that sense we are just infants, learning a skill of unimaginable honor and one we will practice forever. We are learning to pray.
Lord, teach us to pray. Amen.
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 The Message Bible)
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26)
Prayer is often expressed in words, ours. God values words. Words matter and words mean things. In our work as leaders we know the power of language. In fact, the ability to speak makes us like God himself who created with words. Teaching us to talk is part of making us in his image. Jesus is described as “The Word made flesh.”
But sometimes our communication with God goes deeper than language can capture. We know from human communication that non-verbal signals are a bigger portion of what we say than what we “say” in language. “Body language” and tone of voice can trump the literal meaning of words.
Prayer can also be non-verbal. The Bible mentions all kinds of “body language” postures for prayer: kneeling, raising hands, clapping, shouting, and lying face down… There are dozens. So in those times you don’t know what to say to God, resort to something beyond words.
In those moments we are not alone; The Spirit of God comes to our aid to coach us and coax us into what we “mean” beyond what we can’t express.
Perhaps today all you can muster is a “groan” or a sigh in prayer. Maybe you just need to kneel and be still and quiet. Maybe you need to go out into the woods and shout! Well and good! God can leverage our wordless expressions and turn them into a genuine and complete appeal. We may not understand but he certainly does.
Today, try praying without a word. Experiment.
“Not by might. Not by power. But my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6)
Careful planning and hard work are vital, but they have limits. Zerubbabel had an impossible job. So do you. He had to rebuild Jerusalem with a rag-tag group of ex-slaves; you have to build a business based on integrity and servant-hood in an environment of chaos and self-centeredness. Impossible without work and a miracle.
When Cyrus of the Persians conquered Babylon he released the Jews, sent them home to Judea, and outfitted them with resources to rebuild their city. But provision did not guarantee success. Obstacles remained. The Jews had no experience in governing their own affairs, and little military prowess to resist enemies. If they are to succeed, it would take a miracle from God. That is God’s promise to Zerubbabel and to you – “‘Not by might. Not by power. But my Spirit,’ says the Lord.”
Like Zerubbabel your vision is higher than your competencies. That’s not a put down, it’s just reality. Our might, our power, our planning, or skills are but a starting point. Only the anointing of the Spirit brings blessing and success!
Action: Find a copy of your organizational purpose, vision, and values. Set it in front of you. First, thank God for the insight to put into words the heart of your enterprise. Then, place your hands on this document and quote this scripture: “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” Finally, thank Him for being your business partner…