Your Prayer Helps

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Second Corinthians 1 is a Scripture which both tells a story and teaches a lesson. In the first few verses (vv3-7) there is a reflection on God’s comfort to those who are distressed. The Scripture also explains that when we receive God’s comfort, we are enabled (and possibly expected) to pass along this comfort.

This Scripture then begins to tell a story where the writer faced a situation in life where there was nothing left except the comfort of God. The experience had so pressed upon the writer that he no longer had confidence in himself. This condition is known as hope-less. But the power of God yielded the comfort of God through the deliverance of God (v10). From this experience came forth a trust in God that was declared as a constant characteristic of God—“in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”

Most of us would be able to tell life stories that seem to have this flavor of testimony—we were hopeless, but the power of God yielded the comfort of God through the deliverance of God. Perhaps there are some who feel that they are in such a state right now. To those we ask, “Do you trust that He will yet deliver us?” Many sermons, topics or devotionals stop at the end of verse 10. But that is not even the end of the sentence. The remainder of the sentence injects a human element into the story which is often left out. Notice verse 11—“Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.” Compare with another version: “On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” The prayer of one Christian for another is a help in many ways. Your prayer helps to form a group cry to the God of heaven.

From the days of Peter in prison to the current days of midweek prayer meetings, the church has professed belief in the benefits of group prayer. At prayer meeting we spread our own prayer concerns to other burden bearers. Prayer meeting is also a grand place for each of us to ask for help in our own burdens. The minister who preaches the following Sunday, the brother facing elective surgery, the family seeking another property, the school board searching for another teacher, the discouraged, and the struggling are all persons who can have their trust established and increased as we help together by prayer. He who is humble enough to ask his brethren for prayer personally stands to have his trust in God established as the prayer warriors cry out on his behalf. Can our prayer help you? Your prayer helps the group.

From the days of the apostle Paul (1Th 1:2) to the days of present Mennonite leadership, the leader prays for the people. But the people pray for the people as well (Luke 2:37). We cannot fully ascertain how much the course of the church has been ordered because seniors, widows, youth, and concerned brethren and sisters have prayed for the church in good and troubled times. Will your prayer help us? The largest challenge to your prayer helping us is whether or not we will do this for each other. How oft have we given prayer requests and then not prayed? How oft have we looked into the face of a suffering friend and stated, “I will pray for you.” But did we? Perhaps the recent newsletter writer was wary of this failure when he asked, “Will you actually pray for us?”

Consider this challenge: at the back of this periodical is a prayer list. How many of us know that it is there? How many of us have actually prayed for these requests? It looks right and proper there. It is right and proper. But the only way your prayer helps is if your prayer is prayed. In times like these we need divine deliverance from the God of all comfort. But we also believe – your prayer helps.

~Tyrone, PA
July 2012