Sometime last year, I noticed a trend on social media; specifically, my facebook timeline.
There was a clear increase in the number of religious/scriptural posts that were being shared by my facebook friends (most of whom, as you’d expect, I’d never met). The posts usually addressed ‘controversial’ topics. Comment boxes ballooned as members of the online community took sides for or against the writers’ interpretation or position on the subject matter.
As much as I can, I stay away from such debates. In all honesty, they do have their merits but abeg, I’d rather read and run to my bible in silence to check if those things are so. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the free-for-all tornado of online arguments and to be honest, if one is not careful, things can quickly deviate from objective discourse to what sometimes feels like personal attacks. The limitations of written communication fuels misunderstanding- unintended deductions are made and it just gets really messy from there.
In the midst of this, I stumbled on a little story that I’d like to share with you. I think it exposes a practice that will bring rich benefits both to us as individuals and other believers. It was told by Kenneth Hagin in his book, The Art of Prayer (formerly titled The Art of Intercession). I’ve highlighted a few statements that resonated with me. I hope you learn as I have.
The turning point in my life came when I prayed them (Ephesians 1:17-23 and 3:12-21) a thousand times or more for myself. I would kneel, open my bible, and say, “Father, I am praying these prayers for myself. Because they are Spirit-given prayers, this has to be Your will for me just as it was Your will for the Church at Ephesus…”
Then I would continue just as the prayers read except where Paul said, “you,” I would substitute “me,” like this:
God, of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
Give unto me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
The eyes of my understanding being enlightened.
That I may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.
Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places…
After about six months, the first thing I was praying for started happening. The revelation of God’s word began to come. Now that is how those prayers worked when I prayed them for myself. The subject of this book is prayer- both for oneself and for others. Therefore, I have also prayed these same prayers for Christians who do not see certain Bible truths. I pray these prayers for them every morning and night. I use their name, like this:
Lord, I am praying this prayer for Joe. God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give unto Joe the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:
I pray that the eyes of Joe’s understanding be enlightened; that Joe may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
I prayed ten days for one relative, morning and night. Without no human teacher talking to him (he was a Spirit-filled Christian), he wrote me, “It’s amazing how things have opened up to me. I’m beginning to see what you’ve been talking about.”
You see, God has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Some Christians just don’t know it, so they can’t take advantage of it. They suffer from the infirmity of not knowing.
We can pray these prayers in Ephesians for them. It is necessary to stay with it- morning and night, and more often if possible
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
GALATIANS 6:2 [KJV]
Prayer is involved in bearing one another’s burdens… We can help fellow believers to run their races better by helping to lift these burdens through prayers. We don’t need to criticize them; we need to pray for them. When we take our places in prayer for each other, we are helping the entire body (of Christ) to come into maturity.
I was particularly challenged by the consistency of Hagin’s prayers for his relative. He did not brush him aside as someone who hasn’t ‘seen the light’. This is the loving thing to do (note to self!).
I believe there will always be a need to speak up for the truths we believe in. However, before, during and after such conversations (offline and online), sincerely praying for those we discuss with will produce the actual results God desires- the establishment and growth of members of the body, not the winning of debates. Our public fervency in debates must be matched (or surpassed!) by our secret intensity in intercessory prayers for other believers.
As we practice this kind of praying, I believe we will accomplish what sometimes seems to be an impossible task today- to grow together in faith and understanding while maintaining genuine love and respect for every member of the body of Christ.
Live by Design