1Thessalonians 5:25- Brethren pray for us.
This was a request made by Paul the apostle to the Thessalonians to pray for him. It was made out of a heart of humility, by a man who understood the power of prayer, a man who understood the immense power and effectiveness of the combined prayers of the saints. This was a man who walked in revelation, so such a request from him for prayer shouldn’t be taken at face value. Something happens when believers come together to pray. Something happens that would never have happened in any other way until believers lift up their hearts as one and pray asking God to intervene concerning a person, a people, a nation, a project, a family, a business, a community or a cause. And when believers join their hearts together as one and pray in faith, God answers. Always.
A couple of months ago I requested some brethren to pray for me concerning the direction The Lord was leading me in ministry. Instead of praying for me as I requested, one brother replied and said I should read some ‘In Him scriptures’ found in the Pauline epistles. He thought that when I asked the brethren to pray for me, I was clueless and ignorant and he was more spiritual because he knew those scriptures and I didn’t. But even brother Paul who wrote those epistles requested prayers from the saints, not once, not twice, but several times. This brother thought he was being spiritual but that was spiritual pride and pride is deeply rooted in ignorance.
‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’
In this very popular text, Paul tells the brethren to put on the whole armour of God in our warfare against demonic forces then he proceeds to list the spiritual armour and weapons available to the believer. He rounds this up in verse 18. ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.’
He asked that prayers and supplication should be made for all saints. Not just for the saints in your local church or the saints in your country but for ALL saints all over the world. He now went further and made a specific request that prayers should also be made for him. You would think that a man who was a spiritual giant, a man who understood spiritual warfare so deeply wouldn’t need any prayers or spiritual support from the brethren but you would be wrong. In fact it was because he understood spiritual warfare that he requested that the body of Christ should pray for him. He had discovered that there was a dimension of spiritual warfare that couldn’t be handled effectively by our personal, individual prayers. He had discovered that certain battles in our lives can only be fought and won by the combined prayers of the saints. He realised that unless the saints prayed for him, prayed together with him, victory wasn’t guaranteed in certain battles of life.
How did the Church get to the point where asking fellow believers for prayer became a spiritual taboo, something to be despised, a sign of weakness and spiritual failure of some sort? How did we get to the point as a body that we began to look down on our brethren who asked sincerely for our prayers? If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that anytime a believer asked you to pray for them your mind immediately went into a ‘suspicion mode’ and you began to wonder what was wrong with that believer and probably started imagining what secret sins they had locked up in their closets. This sort of thinking has its roots in the Word of Faith movement.
The Word of Faith movement came along with a teaching that all you needed to be a strong Christian is to develop and build your faith. They taught that all it takes to have all you desire in life and to fulfil your calling is to build your faith. They taught that if your faith was strong enough you can get anything, become anything and accomplish anything in life. It was all centred around your faith and nothing else. Some people even taught that you should ‘have faith in your faith’ turning your faith into a god.
This teaching turned believers into self focused, self centred and selfish people who told anyone who cared to listen that they needed nothing from them. How arrogant. They became like the Laodecian church in Revelation 3:17-19- “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:be zealous therefore, and repent.”
The Laodecian church said they were rich, successful and needed nothing, but they were very wrong. That was spiritual pride talking and it was rooted in ignorance. But The Lord rebuked them for their spiritual pride and error.
Many leaders in the Word of Faith movement taught that they were self sufficient and all they needed was their faith and their lives would be okay. I heard preachers tell their congregation, “I don’t need your prayers. I have enough faith for myself. I can use my faith to get anything I desire from God. You should stop praying for me and rather use your prayers to change your own lives.” Very prominent men taught this error to unsuspecting believers who drank in this poison. And yet Paul the apostle requested in more than five passages of scripture that prayers should be made by the precious saints of God for him. It seemed like Paul was serving a totally different God and preaching a different gospel, doesn’t it?
Some of these preachers mixed the scriptures with New Age teachings that focused on the power of self. They carefully avoided teaching scriptures that talked about our mutual dependence on each other as believers. Some of these teachings were not rooted in humility so they raised arrogant Christians who believed that every good thing that happened in their lives happened because of ‘their faith’ and they needed no help whatsoever from other believers. These preachers failed to recognise the fact that the Body of Christ works together by what every member and every joint supplies. There is mutual support and cooperation among all members of the body. (1Conrinthians 12:12-26).
To think that you are successful on your own, by your own faith, by your own prayers or by your own spiritual power is arrogant and foolish. May The Lord deliver us from such error. Do you know how many people from all over the world are praying for you at this very moment? People you don’t know, people you’ve never met and may not probably meet until we get to heaven? God has not left us to walk this spiritual journey on our own without the spiritual help, support, assistance and contributions from other believers.
During the height of the Word of Faith movement I never saw any leading preacher step forward to ask for the prayers of the saints. That would have been a sign of weakness. These preachers made asking for prayers from believers seem like a bad thing, as if you were backslidden or you were failing spiritually. This was erroneous, contrary to the teachings of the New Testament.
If you have been fighting your own spiritual battles alone without seeking support or help from the saints of God you have been doing something quite dangerous and spiritually foolish. If the saints of God hadn’t gathered to pray for Peter in Acts 12, he would have been killed before his time to be martyred. He would have missed out on God’s will for his life. Peter wasn’t in prison because he had no faith or was in some secret sin. No! He was in prison because he was being persecuted for the cross of Christ. In Mark 10:30, Jesus promised that we shall enter the kingdom with persecution. Persecution comes with following Christ. It is like wet and water, you can’t have one without the other. Troubles of life come to us simply because we are human and as Christians we attract persecution.
Acts 12:5-‘Peter therefore was kept in prison:but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.’
The Holy Spirit moved the saints to gather and pray for Peter. Their prayers moved heaven to send deliverance for Peter by the hands of an angel. The angel paralysed all the soldiers who held him captive, released him from his chains, led him through the halls of the prison, opened iron gates before him, brought him out safely and totally disappointed the plans of the wicked against his life. It was the prayers of the saints that also passed a divine sentence against the wicked king Herod Agrippa and brought divine judgement upon him. While he was making a speech full of pride, he was struck by an angel and was eaten by worms and he died.
Dear child of God, there are certain spiritual battles that you cannot possibly fight on your own. Trying to fight such battles alone would be spiritually suicidal. There are battles that require the combined prayers of the saints to be fought and won. How many battles have you fought alone because you were ashamed to share your issues with the saints and humbly request their prayers? How many battles have you lost because you were afraid of what the brethren would think of you if you asked them to pray for you? You must understand that asking for prayers from the saints is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a mark of spiritual wisdom and maturity. Wise saints have learned to collaborate with other saints and tap into the prayer networks of the saints that generate great spiritual power to effect God’s will upon the earth and deliver victories into our hands.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:for all men have not faith.
Paul asked the saints to pray that the word of God would have free course and that he would be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men. The wickedness in this world is real. We face it daily. We see its effect all around us. The bible in Ephesians 6 talks about wicked spirits who operate in heavenly places. These wicked spirits operate through human vessels or channels. They use men and women who are yielded to them to effect their evil agenda on the earth. When we read the newspapers and watch the news we see the power of wickedness that holds sway on the planet. However God has given us spiritual authority, power and spiritual weapons to combat and crush these powers of wickedness.
Paul asked the believers to pray that he may be delivered from the hands of wicked men and women, agents of darkness who were sent on assignment to destroy him and his ministry. Unless we pray we will not be delivered from the plots and conspiracies of the wicked against us and the brethren. We should pray that the hands of the wicked be paralysed, that their evil machinery be destroyed, that they may be unable to carry out their wicked plans against our lives and the lives of the brethren. Many of the victories Paul experienced in his life and ministry was as a result of the prayers made by the saints on his behalf.
If you feel uncomfortable discussing the specifics of your situation or the exact issues you are dealing with, if you are scared that some insincere and false brethren may turn around and use your challenges, weaknesses and issues against you, simply do what Paul the apostle did, say “brethren, pray for me.” That should suffice. That is all the information they require to pray for you. When the brethren start praying for you the Holy Spirit will give them insight into what exactly to pray for. He will give them the right words and lead them in the right direction so that their prayers will be effective. Many times what we want is not what we really need and the Holy Spirit will move the brethren to pray exactly for what we need which is in accordance with God’s will.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Asking for prayers from the saints and employing this weapon in spiritual warfare could mean the difference between life and death, between failure and success, between defeat and absolute victory as we face the battles of life.