Monday, October 26, 2015

Three prayer principles

Man praying in church
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Job 42:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Job 42:10

We see some principles of prayer at play here in the happy ending to Job's story.

1. Prayer operates as a go-between.
Here it's Job's prayers that God wants to use to reconcile Job's friends to Himself. What Job does here reminds us of Jesus. When God told Job's friends that Job would offer a sacrifice and pray for them (Job 42:8), he (Job) was foreshadowing what Jesus did for us when He sacrificed His life and prayed for us from the cross.

2. Prayer operates beyond the boundaries of the natural.
Job was to pray for these friends who had insulted him and made him feel even worse than he did. We are reminded of Jesus' words: " 'But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you' " Matthew 5:44. The result for Job was a doubled restoring of his fortunes. How did that work?!

3. Prayer may require forgiveness on the part of the pray-er.
Job's friends had, in effect, called him a windbag (Job 8:2), empty-headed (Job 11:3), and wicked (Job 22:5). He was distressed and hurt by them (Job: "Miserable comforters are you all!" - Job 16:2 and "How long will you torment my soul and break me in pieces with words?" - Job 19:2).

Now he was to pray for them. Surely that required some attitude adjustments on his part—as in a complete relinquishment of bad feelings and grudge-holding against Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. We call that forgiveness. We are reminded of Jesus' words from the cross: "'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…'" and Stephen's when he was being stoned: "Lay not this sin to their charge" (Luke 23:34 and Acts 7:60).

Let's keep these thoughts about prayer in mind as we pray.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to acknowledge the importance and power of prayer by actually spending more time praying, especially for those who have hurt, offended or troubled me. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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