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The prayers of His people

During my long exile and unbeknown to me at the time there were many loving and faithful friends who had regularly prayed for me. Some of these had actually prayed for me every day for the full 25+ years.

There was nothing organised about this, they didn’t meet for prayer meetings, they were not all known to one another and some of those who were didn’t necessarily know of the other’s commitment to pray for me.

Some of these were the very people my sin had the most damagingly and painfully affected, people whose hearts I had broken and whose lives I had shattered. Others were friends who lovingly had pleaded with me not to proceed further along this road that was taking me deeper and deeper into enemy territory, friends whose efforts I dismissed with cruel and cutting remarks.

Yet they prayed! I had cut myself off from most of them so they didn’t know where I was or what I was doing.

Yet they prayed! The wife I deserted, the friend I had betrayed, and relatives who had been so badly let down, and to their dying day the parents whose hearts I had broken.

And they prayed on even as they witnessed a life style that went on in wilful arrogance and with no visible sign of repentance.

The Scriptures tell us that we should not grow weary in ‘well doing’, and that we should ‘pray without ceasing’ Throughout the New Testament believers are taught to love one another and as an expression of that love are exhorted to pray for one another.

Does God answer prayer? Ask those who prayed for me. These friends were like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 who believed God when His promises seemed incapable of fulfilment. Some of them died believing, yet not having seen the answer to their prayers or the fulfilment of God’s promise to ‘heal their backsliding’.

When the elders of Israel recognised the magnitude of their sin we read “The people said to Samuel   ‘Pray for thy servants unto The Lord thy God that we die not; for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask us a king’” Samuel answers them with the assurance that despite their sin if they returned to the Lord and followed Him He would not forsake them because “He had been pleased to make them His people”.

Having assured them of Gods forgiveness and willingness to prosper them if they sought to live according to His ways, Samuel answers their request with these words “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you”.

Why would it have been a sin for him to cease praying for them, and why would it be the same for us? Is it not written “To him that knows to do good and does not do it; to him that is sin”

Your wayward loved ones may not want to listen to you and you feel there is nothing you can do. Believe me there is: you can pray.

Surely here you can pray with absolute confidence. I know James wrote “You ask, but do not receive because you ask amiss” but in praying that your friends faith ‘fail not’ you are praying His prayer in His name. In this you are at one with our Lord Jesus in His intercessory work.

In praying for my restoration some of my friends confessed to me later “we prayed for this for so long we ought not to have been taken by surprise when it happened” Others told me that they didn’t expect it to happen the way it did. When God does what we ask we may well find ourselves surprised by His Timing or His Method. God has not promised to act according to our timetable. It is entirely possible that He has something to teach us in terms of perseverance in prayer or some other important lesson. Neither has He promised to do things in the way we envisage, He has a fuller picture and a greater wisdom than we do.

Of one thing you can be sure just as He promised to restore backsliding Israel ‘for my own name’s sake’ so He will be glorified in the restoration of those who fall. Angels in heaven will rejoice and wondering worlds will marvel at His Wisdom, Power and Grace.

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