2000Part 2

Encourage Someone Today

Getting a Hope that Defies Contradiction

Ed Corley

SUPPLICATION, the kind about which we are telling, works in two ways. It reaches into the lives of those for whom we pray, and it reaches into our own. When I began praying for others along the lines of Paul's Prison Epistle Prayers, I had no idea how my own soul would be plowed by the word of those prayers. Not only did I experience communion with my Heavenly Father in making the petitions, but their word became like a plowshare. Its furrow cut deep into the fallow soil of my own life. This is because they dig deep and work to set up long lasting answers rather than immediate and surface results that often can leave the soul yet lean.

Paul was not afraid to lay bare his own soul in writing his Epistles. He made known in them the intimate workings of the Holy Spirit going on inside him. So it can be imagined that, if we take his prayers and pray along their same line, they will become intimate with us. This is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit, both for ourselves and for whomever we hold in prayer. If we embrace Paul's way of praying, we learn to deal with delicate matters. It could become like "control praying" were it not that it is the Holy Spirit Who takes over and does the work for which we make the supplication.

Sometimes making supplication for others becomes like travailing in birth. More often it is like the pregnancy preceding birth. The travail terminates the pregnancy, but during the pregnancy itself a new life is formed. Our concern in prayer becomes the formation of that new life and then to watch that one become functional in Christ's Kingdom. The work about which we speak takes place, so to speak, in the "womb" of the intercessor.

In a natural womb, the mother bears a new life forming for itself. In the intercessor's "womb," the watchfulness and the travail is for the formation of Christ's life within the person for whom the supplication is being made.

As much as we might sometimes wish it otherwise, no other ministry works so powerfully in this process.

BEFORE WE LOOK at the second prayer of the twelve we gain from Paul, there is a principle he found that also will work well with us. It should work its way permanently into our praying. We see it in Ephesians 1:15,16. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you making mention of you in my prayers... This introduces us to the principle of being thankful, continually, for the persons for whom we are praying.

Often the greatest personal perception of God's working has come to me when I have taken time to thank Him for each person I am bringing before Him. It could be a good discipline to set one day a week simply to do this. This means also to thank Him for the problems and issues confronting each one that make it so necessary for Him to move in their behalf.

We are even learning to thank the Lord for terrible situations in some lives. We do this because the awfulness of the situation calls for the greater manifestation of God's grace. When everything is all over, the only thing that will be celebrated is the glory of His grace anyway. There will be no recognition of self achievement or of personal holiness. There will be only the recognition that God reached down with His love and mercy and brought each one of us through.

So, we make our supplication, not regarding one's personal weakness and failure so much as we regard God's mercy and power ready to find their release in every life there is. Sometimes persons whom we love hurt so much it is difficult to thank the Lord for what presses upon them, or to thank Him for the way they respond, especially when it is less than good. However, when we do, we open the way for His sanctifying grace to come in upon the whole situation. Thus, what He does in answer to our praying will prove to be to the praise of the glory of His grace.

A wonderful passage in the first part of Ephesians strengthens us in this. In the Greek there is a little word like an arrow pointing to a celebration that will ultimately take place. See this word as to in Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace. It is from the Greek eis and indicates "this is what we are moving toward." Praise is from épainon which means an applause or a celebration. It is the utmost, indeed the final, jubilation that will take place as we move out of this trying age into the fullness of His Kingdom. The shout will go up to extol our God Who did it all. This is what grace is all about. Therefore, we learn to thank Him for situations that have no hope except that He release His grace into and upon the lives of all concerned.

SOMETIMES THE PROBLEMS that confront a person are so great, and their worthiness before God is so poor, that our only hope lies in His grace, which is always ready to prove itself amazing. Recently, as I've been soaking in II Corinthians, I've been taken with the idea that our Heavenly Father is a God of compassion and mercy. He can take all the ugly things of life and make in their place something beautiful for His Kingdom. Paul called Him the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort--II Corinthians 1:3.

We always remember He is the One to Whom we pray. It could become a wonderful practice to frequently address Him as Father of Mercies and God of All Comfort.

David, another man from whom we learn much about strong supplication, came to regard Him in this way. He said, But Thou, 0 Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth--Psalm 86:15.

Sometimes, like Jesus, we have to not regard the sin and the failure of the one we hold before God's Throne so much as we regard God's power and grace to redeem. (See John 5:14 and John 8:11.) God has a wonderful way of reaching in and dealing with sin, very effectively. Even His chastenings will be effused with His grace.

Maybe we say this for some parents who see their children caught in a web of their own doing and that is dragging them downward. Maybe it is for a wife who sees her husband caught in a downward spiral. We sometimes see situations like this in the lives of persons we love, and there is nothing we can do but stand aside and pray-and watch God bring His grace to bear. Therefore, we learn to thank Him. At first, it might seem foolish, but not when we understand what can happen when God's redeeming grace enters.

We've had to learn to do this in personal situations. To be truthful, we're still learning. For instance, when the way becomes so difficult there is no human hope, we learn to thank the Lord. This makes way for Him to move into the situation. We could tell of instance after instance when a miracle of grace found its way to us through the gate of impossibility. We've had to learn to say, "Lord, we're not good enough to deserve this, nor have we done enough for You to reward us, but what faces us now demands a miracle. Our only hope is that You have enough grace left to release one upon us."

Then, time and again, it has been as though He has said, "My grace is sufficient for you."

So, when we're praying for others, even in terrible condition, we remember God wants to release His grace upon them. This is a great part of the reason we learn to thank Him in every thing. It is why we have hope.

LET US LOOK NOW at the passage in Ephesians that is ready to guide us in our intercession for this month. We lift out the verses that bring us the first two of our twelve prayers. It is the second one on which we presently focus.

Ephesians 1:15-18a Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in MY PRAYERS;

1) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

2) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling...

What we learn to pray calls for an enlightenment of the understanding. There is something unusual about the ancient Greek texts of this passage. They vary. In some, like the Textus Receptus from which our King James Version comes, we find enlightenment is called for in the dianoía. This means the understanding. This understanding is the ability to pierce through darkness and difficulty to perceive what is right and true. None of us can see clearly in the path to which God calls us unless light from Him comes upon that path. We know this is not an outward light, but an inward one. Sometimes, the greater the darkness upon the path, the greater the illumination that comes, for it comes within.

So, we are learning to ask for illumination. We ask that it come upon the understanding, whether it be our own or that of someone for whom we pray.

But there are other texts, like the Nestle-Aland Novem Testamentum Graece from which some of our modern translations are taken, that, instead of dianoía, use the word kardía. This means the heart, the inner part of us that feels and responds. Instead of determining which is correct, we consider that both the understanding and the heart need God's light. In the man outside of Christ the understanding is darkened and the heart is hardened. So, whether it be the light of illumination upon the understanding or the light of warmth upon the heart, we ask for both. God made our understanding and our heart to work together.

THERE IS SOMETHING else that needs our close look in this passage. Paul was praying for light to come that ye may know (Eph 1:18). This is from the Greek eidénai, the Perfect Infinitive form of the Verb oída. This is important. It means to know in a way that is settled and defies all contradiction. It means to become so certain of a thing that no force from heaven, earth, or under the earth can confuse us by refuting it.

Consider this. In the days to come we will face forces- indeed, they're upon us now-that try and convince us our faith is unreal and that the call and purpose of the Lord upon us is but an invention of our religious minds. The great scheme of the enemy in these final days is to gainsay what God has done in us and bring us to the point of uselessness in His Kingdom. Praying like we are learning to do reaches for the Throne. It holds souls there. It expects a settling in both the heart and the understanding of the ones for whom we make supplication.

Let's see it clearly. The particular prayer we are disciplining ourselves to pray this month is that light will come into the understanding and heart of each one we hold before God's Throne. This is so they can know--in a way that defies contradiction--what is the hope of His calling.

has reference to God. It is His calling upon us and the people for whom we pray that we ask to become settled.

There comes a hope with this calling. Our word hope in the English language has become weakened with an element of uncertainty. But this is not true of the New Testament word. It carries no element of uncertainty. Hope in the New Testament means certainty. More clearly, this makes what Paul said mean, "I am praying for light to come so you can know the certainty of God's calling upon You. I want you to know for sure what He wants so you can give yourself to it without reservation."

Using this prayer as a guide in our intercession will help free those who falter in the call of the Lord. There are many who think they once heard His voice and call but were never sure of it and didn't know how to respond. Still others were sure for a while but think the call is no longer valid. Some heard the call in a time of close spiritual experience but did not become settled in it enough for it to last after the feelings left. Others have never felt that God has a call and purpose for them.

No matter what is the condition of souls relative to God's calling, intercessors help by praying their eyes will be opened and their hearts will be flooded with light. This means all confusion will be driven out like darkness is driven out by light. Even the most gross darkness there is can be penetrated by a little light.

Some reject God's call and follow other calls. I talked with a man who became discouraged in God's calling and turned aside into a disobedience that lasted for years. Suddenly, the Spirit of God visited him. A spiritual healing and work of grace began that resulted in repentance and the restoration of a powerful ministry. This happened because intercessors ceased not in praying for him.

We pray God's calling will become so certain in the lives we hold in prayer that nothing can distract from it. Or, if they have been distracted, they will return. Much strong prayer is needed for many because a settling into God's calling often threatens other calls and plans. Personal associations and obligations opposing Christ also make their demands. This can cause trouble. It is here intercessors learn to press on.

WITH REGARD TO persons who seem to have lost the call of God upon their lives, Paul tells us, ... the gifts and calling of God are without repentance--Romans 11:29. This means God doesn't change His mind.

Over thirty years ago something happened in my life that was so terrible I thought for sure the calling of God was vanquished. Carlton Spencer, then President of Elim Bible Institute, said
something to me that reached through my darkness and helped set me free. He said, "Before all this happened, God knew. In the face of all this, He still called you."

That didn't remove repentance, sorrow or grief, nor did it do away with the need for restoration, but it did release hope.

With regard to those who think they are not qualified for a calling from the Lord, Paul tells us not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called (I Corinthians 1:26). God often chooses those whom the world calls fools, those who are of low social status, and those who have no qualifications we can see. Intercessors learn to pray even for those the world system might reject as unfit.

For those who are growing weary in the calling upon them, we pray that they will not fall out along the way like runners exhausted in a race. Again, we gain insight from Paul to help us here. In Philippians 3:14 he told what enabled him to win out over obstacles in the course of his calling. He used language from the race course and said, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. His secret was in keeping his eyes on the mark. This is from the Greek word skópos. We get our English word "scope" from it. It originally meant "an object on which the eye of a runner is kept fixed." Paul's mark in the race was the Lord Jesus. He learned never to look away from Him.

For those who have their attention taken away from God's calling, we intercede. We ask that He will draw their attention back to Christ. This will help settle them in His calling.

Brother Clair Hutchins, a powerful Apostle now gone on, said to me, "Get your spiritual antenna up so you can beam in on the Lord and what He is doing." Oh, how this helps us in His calling upon us!

Abraham Veride, founder and leader for years of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, asked me a question one day. He said simply, "What are you doing for the Lord?" I was a young Pastor of a blossoming church, full and confident. That question from a humble and broken servant of the Kingdom reached through with a conviction that never has left me. It is strange how the most simple word from a processed servant of the Lord can carry with it so much weight and power. The searching and conviction that began with me brought me to consider whether I was actually serving the Lord or fulfilling my own convictions and functioning out of my own charismatic abilities. Through the pain in the years that followed, that question stayed with me with its wonderful conviction that God did indeed have a call and purpose for me in His Kingdom.

There is nothing that gives assurance and strength to a person like being settled into God's calling. When this takes place, every part of life is touched. All the ugly places become redeemed. That which could not be understood becomes clear. Rough places become challenges to grow up in Him.

Here is an amazing thing. The calling of God is simple. To the sinner it is the same as to the saint. The calling to the helper is the same as to the Apostle. It is a calling unto Christ. Therefore we are not to conclude that only a few are among the called. This means the intercession of this month reaches for everyone.

And, let us remember this. The New Testament Greek word for church is ekklesía. This comes from ék ("out of") and kaléo ("to call"). It means "a called out company."

So, we are drawn to make supplication for everyone who will make up this company. What an expanse!

PRAYER IS ONE of the greatest mysteries there is. It is the open invitation of God for us to participate with Him in the rule of His Kingdom. That the Creator of the universe should allow us to move with Him in its government is a stroke of sheer mercy, but also a revelation of His divine genius. His first and most powerful intention for us was stated in Genesis 1:26 where He said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion... This Divine Intention moves through and is enlarged upon in Psalm 8:4-6 and Hebrews 2:6-10 to show how far this dominion is to reach. Indeed, it becomes the foundation of our Heavenly Father's invitation to us to pray.

From the beginning, He intended the rule should be in the hands of the man and woman He created-but they sinned. It was here mercy entered to bring us who are of the very race of Adam back to the dominion from which our Parents fell. Thus, our praying today is in the Name of the "Second Adam from above" Who sinned not, even our Lord Jesus. As we pray we begin our movement back to the dominion from which the first Adam fell. Thus praying becomes a development and we grow in our understanding of who, what and where we are in Christ Jesus.

Prayer becomes so full, and its expression through us so wonderful, that words run out to describe its power. Our ability to move at its invitation still remains so hindered by our humanity that the Holy Spirit enters to help us. The fact with me is this: I'm coming to see that the Holy Spirit's most valuable contribution to my life is in helping me pray.

Read what Paul said in Romans 8:19-27. It seems he probably felt this way too.


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