ODJ: pray for them

February 19, 2013 

READ: Numbers 14:10-19 

In keeping with Your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as You have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt (v.19).

In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer states: “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”

The people of Israel had become intolerable to God because they were faithless and had begun to treat Him with contempt (Numbers 14:11-12). Moses loved his people, however, and it was out of that love that he powerfully and compassionately interceded for them (v.13). He saw them not simply as chronic grumblers and complainers, but as people in need of God’s mercy. So, out of his love for them and based on the character of God, Moses pleaded with God to pardon his people. Moses reasoned that if God didn’t forgive, but destroyed Israel, then the Egyptians and other nations would mock His perceived powerlessness. Moses appealed to God’s loyal love to pardon His people’s sin because He loved them (v.18). God honoured Moses’ prayer and forgave their sins.
As followers of Jesus, our relationships with one another thrive when we pray for one another, but they wilt when we fail to do so. No matter how much trouble my sisters-in-Christ cause me, how much complaining my brothers-in-Christ do, or how strange they seem, they’re fellow believers for whom Christ has died. I must stand before God on their behalf.

To love one another is to pray for one another. May the love we have for our brothers and sisters be expressed in powerful intercession for their emotional, physical and spiritual needs! —Marvin Williams

Read Deuteronomy 9:18-19 to see another time Moses interceded for God’s people, and note God’s response to his plea.

To which difficult brother or sister do you need to express your love this week through powerful and passionate intercession? Why is it vital that we pray for one another?