Prayer brings Christians into a sacred partnership with Jesus Christ, the enthroned Son of God. If God had not revealed this to us in His Word, it would have been blasphemous to suggest that you could share such partnership. “The Lord worked with them” is succinct history of the early church (Mark 16:20). Furthermore, Scripture calls all Christians “God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1).
There are many ways “to work” with God, through obedience, service to others, and sharing His love. However, He wants to have even more intimate contact with us. He wants to bring us into His inner circle where we can hear His great heart beating for a lost world. He has created us with the ability to speak to Him and fellowship with Him. Above all else, as His “fellow workers,” you were created to pray, as He prays.
Why Does Jesus Pray?
We are told repeatedly in Scripture that Jesus prayed and that He continues to pray today. But why is prayer necessary for Jesus who spoke the world into existence (John 1:3) and sustains all things (Heb. 1:3)? Why must He pray? Why not merely command? No demon from hell or a combination of demonic forces could stand against His powerful word. Why does Jesus not rebuke them, stop them, or consume them by His word? One day He will (2 Thess. 2:8). One day He will rule with an iron scepter (Rev. 12:5), and so will we (Rev. 2:27). Nevertheless, today Christ has chosen to rule the world by prayer. This is the day of grace, not the day of His power and glory. Christ is already enthroned at the right hand of the Father. What is He doing? He is reigning. But how is He reigning? Not by His scepter, but by prayer! Even before His death and resurrection, when He forewarned Peter that Satan had asked permission to sift the disciples as wheat (Luke 22:31-32), Christ did not say, “I will stop Satan.” Instead, He said, “I have prayed for you.”
Jesus Reigns by Interceding
Today Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Eph. 1:20-22). Christ is already seated on His throne. And what does Christ do there? Grant interviews to the angels or departed saints? The only picture Scripture gives is that He is “at the right hand of God interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). Jesus lives forever. He has a permanent priesthood, and always lives to intercede (Heb. 7:23-25). In this text, the writer compares and contrasts the ministry of the Levitical priesthood with the eternal priesthood of Jesus. Death prevented the Levitical priests from carrying out their ministry indefinitely. Each of the Levitical priests died and had to be succeeded in order for the priesthood to continue. Jesus Christ, because He is eternal, holds His priesthood permanently. He is the superior high priest because He needs no successor. His priesthood is eternal. Jesus’ priesthood is not only eternal and unchangeable but it is also unlimited in its scope. He saves forever.
Does Jesus not live to reign? Yes, He does, but He also lives to intercede. He reigns by interceding. He is the sovereign over all, but He is also the great High Priest praying for all. Prayer secures results; prayer conveys blessing. He blessed as He prays. He is the royal Intercessor and Giver of blessing.
Our Priestly Prayer Role
Jesus loves you so much that He desires you to intercede with Him as He intercedes with the Father, and to bless the world as He does. He mediates blessing through prayer. You and I are to do the same (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:5-6). Jesus is God’s High Priest (Heb. 2:17). He has made us priests to God also (Rev. 1:6). The greatest service you will ever render to God will not be your external ministering, witnessing, or preaching. This does not mean that ministering to the needs of others, witnessing for Christ, and preaching are unimportant. They are very important. However, your greatest service, whatever your vocation, is to be your priestly intercession. God has ordained to work through the prayers of His people. He is waiting for your intercession.
The continuing intercession of Christ does not negate our consistent prayer as believers. The intercession of Christ does not foster a passive outlook on the Christian life. You were not only created to pray; you were redeemed, justified, and sanctified to pray.
Our Mutual Commission with Christ
What is Jesus’ greatest personal prayer assignment in this age? Perhaps it is to pray for the church. However, only one command regarding Christ’s intercession for the churches is recorded in the Bible (Psalm 2:7-8).
The Father commands the Son (Jesus) to ask for the nations. His great commission to the church, His last request to the church, is to go to the nations (Matt. 28:19-20). His second coming will be delayed until adequate witness is given to the nations (Matt. 24:14). If He is a God of infinite love, and He is, then His heart is yearning for the nations. Certainly, one of the priorities He places on every Christian is to intercede for the evangelization of the world.
Jesus: Our Divine Prayer Partner
Note the important ways our prayer partnership with Christ affects our praying.
- What reverent caution it places on us as we pray!
If we are Jesus’ partner in intercession, we must be sure to pray in harmony with Jesus’ prayer, and not in contradiction to them. What kind of prayer partner would we be if we kept disagreeing with Him? How urgent it is, not only to seek to know God’s will but also to pray constantly the words Jesus taught us to pray (Matt. 6:10). Just as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane so we must pray (Matt. 26:39).
- What strong confidence it gives to our prayers!
If we are praying for His will to be done, if we are joining our prayer to the intercession of Jesus, with what full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:22) we can draw near to God (Eph. 3:12).
If we are praying together with Jesus about a matter there is no doubt that God is listening (John 11:42). God’s Word stacks assurance upon assurance to encourage our intercession (1 John 5:14-15).
- What strong incentive it gives you to persevere in prayer!
Jesus Himself urges us to hold on in prayer and not give up until the answer comes (Luke 18:1-8; 11:5-10). In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus said that God the Father is not like the unjust judge, but we are to persist like the widow when we pray.
The God of Amen
There is a beautiful picture in Scripture of Jesus’ role as our prayer partner. “These are the words of the Amen” (Rev. 3:14),