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An Apostolic Incentive to Ask for Prayer

Some people ask for prayer for just about everything. I do mean just about everything. There is no need to give a list of the more humorous requests made over the years, but they still rattle around in my head and make me chuckle. Other people never ask for prayer. They are tight lipped, not sharing anything, perhaps suspicious that any leak of personal information would be used for nefarious purposes. Rare, however, is the request that is about deep, personal spiritual matters of the heart. Requests about tottering faith, weakness and severe trial are infrequent. Perhaps it is easier to ask prayer for a broken foot rather than broken faith.

My devotional reading this morning had me in one of my favorite Pauline passages, 2 Cor. 1:1-11. As I plodded along, I was struck afresh by Paul’s transparency and honesty about his trial, affliction and despair (I deal with this in Feelings and Faith, 89-93). But it was verse 11 that really caught my attention this morning. My rendering of the text is, “And you (Corinthians) joining in together to help on our behalf, by prayer, in order that from many people thanks may be given for the grace given to us.”

Paul shared his trials knowing that the Corinthians would join in to help him through prayer. So the first incentive in asking for prayer is the help that comes through prayer. Prayer is the delivery service which God uses to bring help to His people.

Paul also saw a clear result, indicated by the “in order that.” The result of the saints joining in to help by prayer is that many people would give thanks to God when those prayers are answered. The incentive is that praise and thanksgiving to God be multiplied. Tight lips decrease praise. Isolated, insulated private types rob God of thanksgiving. Those who say, “Pray for me, I need help, I need grace, strength, I am in a battle….” are the ones through whom God’s glory is magnified when He answers those prayers.

Let’s ask for prayer from one another because we need the help and God is worthy of the thanksgiving and praise that comes from answered prayer.

For Christ’s glory in answered prayer,
Pastor Brian

From Pastor Brian on 4/14/09

O death is where is your sting?

Paul tells us that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56). Relevant? It is 2:00 PM and Gerry’s funeral is going to begin in 30 minutes. Her body is in the sanctuary, surrounded with flowers.

So what does it mean, the sting of death is sin? Sin brings death. Sin poisons everything and then we die. Sin vandalizes God’s world and our hearts. Death has a huge sting and that sting is sin. Sin infuses death with fear. Because of sin, death becomes the terrifying specter which one day gets the victory over us. The sting of death is sin.

The power of sin is the law. The law condemns us as sinners. But the law not only condemns us, it stirs up sin within us, multiplying our sin and thus our condemnation. The law exposes our sin, pronounces our guilt and our own sick response is to kick against the law and sin all the more (Rom. 7:7-12). The power of sin is the law.

So our situation is bleak. The cancer of sin is exposed by the law, but our own spiritual and moral impotence only multiplies the cancer cells. The law says, “You deserve to die, you will die and when you die I will condemn you, in the meantime I cannot help you.”

Paul’s words of triumph are striking. Where is death’s victory? Where is death’s sting? Christ died for our sins. If our sins are forgiven because of Christ, then the stinger has been plucked out. If Christ has paid the penalty of our sins, then the law has nothing more to say. We are free from the sting of death, we are free from the condemnation of the Law.

Last Wednesday there was no sting in Gerry’s death, the law had no power over her. She left this world without fear of condemnation. Death lost its grip to terrify. She died in faith and Jesus received her into His presence, with the resounding refrain of heaven, “O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”