The Principle of:
Praying for Those under One's Care
Principles of Kingdom Living Brought Through
The Intercessory Prayer of a Pastor.
I Thessalonians 1
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; PRAYING for those under his care was a continuing practice with Paul. Without argument, it is one of the most important parts of a Pastor's ministry. In this, Paul found some important keys for us to consider. He learned to pray without ceasing. He learned to pray with the spirit. He developed in praying with the understanding. Those who learn these principles can minister to their congregations well, especially in the dark days of confusion that are coming upon us.
ONE MORNING IN SOUTH INDIA, I awoke before daylight and went out of my house. In a nearby field I could faintly see some objects that had not been there the evening before. In the dim light I couldn't tell what they were. But as the sun came on, I saw shepherds had brought their flocks to rest in that field. The flock was sleeping; the shepherds were watching. I watched as those shepherds drove away dogs and big birds that would have injured their sheep. After a while, they led the sheep on to better pasture.
The shepherds kept watch over their flock by night just like the shepherds in the field on the night of Jesus' birth. They were keeping them safe from the attacks of enemies. Apparently, they never stopped doing this throughout the night. I knew there was something there for me to learn about being an effective Pastor.
The Greek New Testament word translated pastor is poimén. It means "one who tends a flock of sheep." The business of Pastors is to keep spiritual watch over their flock. The greatest way to do this is in praying for them. This keeps the "shepherd" spiritually aware and produces much in the lives under care.
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. This was especially so when it came to his concern for the people under his care. He ministered to them as a father would to his children, or sometimes as a pregnant mother would to her unborn babe. This care in him for others brought him into a valuable understanding about prayer that helps us.
There is a particularly provoking statement from him in Gal 4:19. He spoke of my little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. When Paul spoke of travailing in birth, he used words that speak of a pregnant mother laboring to give birth. He was, as it were, pregnant with those he called his little children. They were the people to whom he had ministered and for whom he cared.
When a mother bears a child in her womb to full term, she never stops being pregnant till the child is born. Every hour of the day and night her life revolves around the bearing of another life within her. So, Paul bore others in a spiritual womb, not for the formation of their own life, but for the formation of Christ's life in them. We call this the "womb of intercession." All of us can learn from Paul. Parents can learn about praying for their children. Husbands and wives can find new life together as they learn to pray effectively one for the other. Pastors can learn from him about ministering to their congregations in intercessory prayer. Intercession can touch every relationship we have and make it rich in Christ. It can reach every soul for whom we care and release in them a new realm of living in Christ.
PAUL PASSED ON TO US some of the secrets of intercession he learned. He laid them out in his Epistles, especially the ones he wrote while a prisoner in Rome. We will take special note of this in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.
1 PAUL LEARNED THE SECRET OF PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING.
He spoke often of continual praying. What a secret he had learned! To the believers in Rome he said, Without ceasing, I make mention of you in my prayers. (Rom 1:9). To the Ephesians he said, I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers (Eph 1:16). To the Philippians he said, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer for you making request with joy...For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:3,4,8). To the Colossians he said, For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you (Phil 1:3,4,8). To the Thessalonians he said, We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers (without ceasing) (I Thes 1:2,3). To Timothy he said, . . .without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day (II Tim 1:3).
In I Thes 5:17, Paul said, Pray without ceasing. He meant, "Make it your unvarying practice to be always praying. Do not allow your soul to stray from communion with the Lord."
Surely there were times Paul did others things besides praying, but there was no activity that ruled out praying. He must have never stopped praying, any more than a pregnant mother stops for a while being pregnant until she gives birth.
The secret he found of praying without ceasing can be our secret too, even if we begin slowly. We can start by discovering the times we are doing something else, but can still pray--when walking, when riding a bicycle, riding on public transportation, driving a car, working in a field, preparing food, washing clothes, chopping wood. Any task not requiring the total concentration of our minds and spirits allows time for praying. As we grow in relationship with the Lord, we find there is hardly a time we are not free to pray, sometimes out loud with words that can be heard, sometimes silently from deep within our spirits.
For me I have found an excellent time to pray is when cutting grass. I have come to identify this with interceding for others. Another time is when driving. Frequently when Glenda and I are traveling, as I drive and she sits next to me, we spend the time praying together. I have also found another excellent time to pray is in the middle of the night when I am awakened and cannot immediately return to sleep. The hours between 2:00 and 4:30 a.m. are excellent for intercession, especially for those who are asleep. At that time, their souls are more at ease than in the day and more ready to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is especially a good time to pray for one's family.
Another excellent time to pray is when having to wait for someone at an inconvenient place. This could be considered an annoyance, but I've found we never have to consider this as time wasted. When we take upon ourselves this discipline of praying without ceasing, we can actually rejoice in the privilege of having some extra time for its unhindered practice.
MANY PERSONS cannot pray without ceasing because their minds and spirits are taken up with activities that crowd out praying. These are spiritual robbers. But, they can be replaced with praying. For instance, the Lord spoke to me that the same part of the mind that worries is the part that also prays. Well, I was very skilled in worrying. I had learned it as a little boy growing up during World War II and had followed the practice all my life. The Lord instructed me to allow thoughts of worry to become signals to pray. Formerly, I would awaken in the middle of the night to spend hours worrying. Now, I awaken to spend them praying for the ones about whom I once worried.
For many of us this can make much time for praying. I asked a group recently how many of them knew what it meant to worry without ceasing. Many raised their hands. Then, I told them they could as well pray without ceasing.
But there is something needed here, We must ask the Lord to change the worrying into a signal. It can become like an alarm going off to tell our souls, "You are worrying, which is a fruitless occupation. You can now be praying."
Besides worrying, there are other spiritual robbers: fear of impending danger, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, extreme self-consciousness, an inordinate craving for food or drink, fixations on other persons, especially sexual lusts, guilt, and so on. All of these, and more, can occupy the same area in the soul that prays. For the spiritually disciplined person, the recognition of any one of them can become a signal to pray.
Ask the Lord to help you discover the unfruitful things that occasionally occupy your thoughts. Turn each one over to Him to change into an alarm signal calling your soul to pray. When the alarm goes off, it will be a signal for you to turn again to the Lord. If you have trouble doing this, find someone who knows the authority and power of Christ and ask that person to pray with you.
SOME QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU THINK:
1) Do you think it important that ministers of the Gospel learn to pray without ceasing?
2) How can a Pastor keep watch continually over his flock?
3) That Paul could pray without ceasing meant he lived in unbroken communion with the Lord. Do you think this is possible for you?
4) Name ten activities in which you can engage and still pray.
5) Can you name ten persons you might hold before the Lord in intercessory prayer? Do you care enough for these to pray for them daily? How can you increase this number for whom you pray?
6) Con you name any activities you sometimes engage in but which are not profitable and could be converted to times of praying.
7) How can a parent keep continual watch over his or her household?
8) Do you think a child can be taught to pray without ceasing. If so, would it be important?
LET ME ADD SOMETHING more at this point. It came to me today while our group was praying together before some left to minister in a healing service. It is with regard to David. One of the group read his Ps 25 and made some comments on it. In the Psalm David said, Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD (:15). Then he said, O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in Thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on Thee. David apparently knew the secret of praying without ceasing. Busy king and warrior that he was, and Prophet, he learned to hold the Lord vividly present before him. Even in his weakness, is there any wonder that he could hear the Lord and bring so powerful a word from Him? There is much in his Psalms that will benefit us in this matter.
2 PAUL LEARNED THE SECRET OF PRAYING WITH THE SPIRIT.
Paul also learned to pray with the spirit. Without doubt, this was a help to him in praying without ceasing. In I Cor 14:15, in the middle of a discussion on the value of tongues as a spiritual gift, he said, I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. Simply by reading the larger passage in I Cor 14, we learn when Paul said he prayed with the spirit, he meant he prayed in tongues.
This is a powerful way of praying, but many never know it. Some are never encouraged to receive the gift of tongues. Others are taught that it is not right to expect it or receive it in this day and age. Still others who have received the gift never learn all of its value and practical use. Ignorance of its value robs a Pastor of one of the most useful and blessed means of prayer there is and lessens his effectiveness as a minister of the Gospel. Even though there are some powerful men and women of God who never speak in tongues, this does not lessen its value. How much more powerful could be their ministry if they knew and used this valuable gift from the Holy Spirit!
Often the situations a Pastor faces are totally baffling, as more and more cases will become and the Day of the Lord draws nearer. Facing these, a Pastor (or parent, or any other minister) who prays in tongues can pray over situations beyond his or her natural understanding, but not beyond the understanding of the Holy Spirit.
There are several reasons why praying with the Spirit is a valuable practice, especially for a Pastor. Praying with the Spirit enables a Pastor to pray over matters that are completely baffling to the mind and that have no natural solutions. 'Praying with the Spirit enables a Pastor to pray more easily while engaging in other activities. Praying with the Spirit brings the Holy Spirit into situations and brings about the release of His power and wisdom. Praying with the Spirit causes a Pastor to be edified in his own spirit. This is beneficial if he is to minister to his flock effectively.
In I Cor 14, Paul gave some of the reasons the gift of tongues was valuable to him. Every minister can find the same value in them that he found. He said, He that speaks in a tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God--Verse 2. It becomes the means of very private communication between an individual and the Lord. He said, He that speaks in a tongue edifies himself--Verse 4. It is a means of building up one's self in the Lord, so one can become a stronger minister for others. He said, I would that you all spoke with tongues, but rather (in order) that you (might) prophesy--Verse 5. Speaking in tongues can lead to the speaking forth of words from God that can be understood and that are anointed of His Spirit. In Verse 6, Paul speaks of revelation, knowledge, prophesying, and teaching, all of which strengthen a congregation, and all of which become more powerful as the result of speaking in tongues.
I BEGAN SPEAKING IN TONGUES several years ago while waiting on the Lord in the Sunday School room of a Baptist Church. Having no prior instruction as to the purpose of the gift and not being able to freely practice it where I worshiped and ministered. I became mostly private with it. For years it became my daily practice. But one day something happened that brought a new appreciation for the gift and gave new meaning to praying with The spirit. It was during the time of dark ness and tragedy that struck our family, of which I've spoken in other articles.
I had been invited to address a gathering of the Full Gospel Business Men, about two hours from my home. That day, before starting out for the meeting, I was confronted with a horrifying fact of something that had happened in our family. Had someone blasted me in the stomach with a gun, I would have welcomed it more. My mind became confused. Darkness closed in, along with fear guilt, oppression, and bewilderment. I could remember I was to go that night and speak, but was in so much shock I could not engage in conversation with anyone.
As I traveled, the oppression increased with the thought that soon I would have to stand before a group of people and give testimony of God's faithfulness and power.
Through all of this, the Lord broke in and spoke to me. What He said was so secret and what I was released to do was so private that for years I never spoke of it to anyone. Yet it has continued with me as a practice, bringing much spiritual edification and help. It has become particularly useful in the practice of praying without ceasing.
Breaking through the darkness of my soul that day, the Lord said to me, "Think in tongues."
I had never heard of this thing, nor did I know of a Scripture supporting it, but I began doing it. With no movement of my tongue of lips, there came a movement through my brain, like the thoughts of words I could not myself understand. They carried away with them the darkness. My mind was purged and I could think clearly. More important, I became aware of the Lord s presence.
What took place in our lives or in the meeting that night is not of significance at this point, except to say God proved Himself very faithful. I am simply relating what was the beginning of a practice that has continued with me for years. It is of particular value in praying for others and in bringing my mind before the Lord for the formation of His word within me.
It has continued with me, through nearly thirty-five years, to this day. Nothing is so calming and cleansing to my mind and heart as this inward praying and thinking with the spirit.
One day I shared my "secret" with Glenda that I had been thinking in tongues. She said, "I have done that for years." She didn't have all the theological training I had that conditioned me against the use of tongues. She just simply had opened herself to the Holy Spirit and allowed the gift to flow. One day, she said, while praying with the spirit, the Lord spoke to her, "Swallow!" She did and the tongues went down into her spirit. She said she could hear herself speaking in tongues though her lips or mouth were not moving.
She said, further, that it had become her practice, particularly in counseling troubled souls, to pray thus while listening to the other person pour out the woe that had come upon them. Thus, the Lord would release in her the wisdom, or revelation, or anointing for deliverance to set that one free.
Glenda has been used of he Lord to counsel and help set free many oppressed souls. I have sometimes watched as there have come from her unusual words of wisdom and knowledge that I knew were not coming from her natural mind. They came because, while she was listening to the person she was counseling, she was also praying in her spirit. As a result, the Holy Spirit released through her His wisdom and His counsel.
I have appreciated this gift in her particularly when I am ministering the word and she is with me. She listens attentively and give me every assurance with her face, all the while praying silently in tongues. The edification that comes to her in doing this often brings the release of some word of knowledge or wisdom which she in turn may share.
In this, we are sharing some things born in us out of the pain of personal experience and years of walking with the Lord. We do not push upon you what we say, but only want you to know what has become real and practical in our lives. Perhaps it may be of some help to you as you minister the Gospel to the people under your care.
PAUL HAD SOME OTHER THINGS TO SAY about praying with the Spirit in Rom 8. This information is exceedingly valuable for a Pastor in leading a flock facing trouble (or for a parent leading a family through tribulation). In verses 26 and 27 he said, Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought (or as necessity demands): but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to (the will of) God.
Generally, we know how to address God in prayer, but in some cases, our poverty of spirit will be so great and the situation so demanding, only the Holy Spirit can do the praying for us. He knows how to face each problem and how to bring supplication before God. Let us notice some of the benefits of praying with the Spirit as Paul laid them out in the above Romans passage.
As the Holy Spirit prays, He does it with groanings which cannot be uttered. These groanings are within the spirit of the one praying. They join with the deep sigh of the human soul which, in some cases, cannot participate mentally with the Spirit in making the supplication. The groanings are so deep there may be no utterance anyone can hear or understand accompanying them. There is no need for a human ear to understand, for the supplication is toward the Lord only.
The Spirit makes the intercession according to the will of God. He resides in so close harmony with the Heavenly Father that the supplication He makes will always move toward the working out of His highest will. What a comfort this is to any leader who does not know how to lead his people through the trouble that is even now impending!
And here is a marvelous thing: as we pray with the spirit, the mystery of the way before us becomes more clear. The guidance we can give become more pure.
SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
1) To Paul, praying with the Spirit was a very important part of praying. How important is it to you?
2) Do you think praying with the Spirit can bring as much result as praying with the understanding? Or, do you think it will bring more result? or less result?
3) Can a person who does not speak in tongues make a practice of praying with the Spirit?
4) Should a person who does not speak with tongues seek to be filled of the Holy Spirit? Would this enable him to pray with the Spirit?
5) What advice would you give to a person who speaks with tongues, but has made little spiritual use of it, or has grown little in his spiritual life?
6) Would you advise a person who does not speak in tongues to seek the gift?
3 PAUL ALSO PRAYED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING.
Paul held a deep and awesome understanding about praying. Apparently it was released in him by the Holy Spirit. In three Epistles written while he was a prisoner in Rome--Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians--he laid out the insight he held about praying for the people under his care. His insight and understanding helps us greatly in the matter of praying with the understanding.
In these Epistles we can find twelve distinct prayers of intercession. We have found it a good practice to take one of these per month as a guide for praying with understanding. This will work toward building up a flock (or a family) to become strong in the time of trouble. All the prayers will work toward building the character of Christ's Kingdom into the lives both of those for whom we pray as well as our own.
Many wonders will take place in the congregation whose Pastor prays along the line of these prayers for the people. They will also change the Pastor.
THE FOUR PRAYER PASSAGES INDICATINGTHE TWELVE POINTS OF PRAYING.
Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 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: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; THAT ye may know 2) WHAT is the hope of His calling, and 3) WHAT the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 And 4) WHAT is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.
Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 5) THAT he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened (governed) with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; 6) THAT ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, 7) THAT ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, 8) THAT your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (discernment); 10 9) THAT ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ...
Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire 10) THAT ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 11) THAT ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 12) strengthened (enabled) with all might, according to His glorious power, UNTO all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
Each prayer works toward the release into lives of things we might call "Kingdom Commodities." These cannot be taught entirely by man. They are born of the Holy Spirit. They come in response to the kind of praying we are learning. They are essential for those who will stand in the time of trouble and who will function with Christ in His Kingdom. It is for this we who are leaders are called to see our people prepared. The Pastor who will take each of these twelve commodities and place an emphasis on them month by month will find something wonderful come forth in the flock.
From Ephesians 1:15-19 we gain our first four prayers. With them we will make JANUARY wisdom and revelation month. We will make FEBRUARY hope and certainty month. We will make MARCH personal value to God month. We will make APRIL power month.
From Ephesians 3:14-19 we gain our next three prayers. We will make MAY inner government month. We will make JUNE love month. We will make JULY fullness month.
From Philippians 1:9,10 we take two more prayers. We will make AUGUST discernment month. We will make SEPTEMBER sincerity month.
From Colossians 1:9-11 we take our last three prayers. We will make OCTOBER the month for understanding God's will. We will make NOVEMBER the month for fruitfulness and increase in the knowledge of God. We will make DECEMBER the month for enabling grace that leads to patience, longsuffering and joy.
We have received countless letters on the effectiveness of this procedure. Following is one from a Church Secretary in New England that lays out how this discipline developed in their congregation. They made use of a manual we published some years ago entitled The Discipline of Intercession.
Dear Ed and Glenda:
About a year ago I contacted Glenda about obtaining more copies of "THE DISCIPLINE OF INTERCESSION" for use in our prayer groups. She said I could make copies and asked that I let you know what happened as we used them.
We have seen mighty answers to prayer as we have prayed through the monthly topics. I'd like to share with you some of those answers. We started praying in the month of January. As we began to pray for wisdom and revelation to be released in our congregation, it happened! As God revealed the true condition of individual hearts, it was disturbing. It was almost overwhelming. Because of the numbers of people affected by these prayers, we realized we needed to begin praying for more people to serve in ministering to the needs of the congregation. Within the next year, He called a number to become deacons, doubling those ministering in that capacity.
Another result of the prayers which we began to see immediately and have continued to see is that on Sunday morning, as people began to share with the congregation about what God was doing in their lives and what He was saying to them, they would share the very things we prayed--word for word sometimes. And as we moved into a new month, the testimonies changed to whatever we were praying for that month.
The sharing on Sunday mornings was almost exclusively from women at first. As we saw that, we began praying for men to share. In July or August, a husband and father within our congregation repented publicly for his lack of spiritual leadership in his home. He challenged the other men of our congregation on this issue. That morning, men streamed forward to join him in repentance and commitment to become spiritual leaders of their homes. It was a moving moment: every man, excepting two or three, including guests and visitors, went forward . Since that time, men have shared regularly.
As we have prayed through the prayers each month, we have seen so many specific answers that our faith has increased. We see more clearly that prayers in line with God's Word are the prayers we need to pray.
... We had one prayer group in January. We now have four groups devoted to intercessory prayer.
© Berean Ministries
PO Box 38
Elk Park, NC 28622-0038
Visit Us at http://www.maschil.com