A big academic project was weighing on me, and I was fretting over whether I could complete it by the deadline. In the midst of my anxious thoughts, I received three notes of encouragement from friends who were cheering me on. Each one said, “God brought you to mind today when I was praying.” I felt humbled and encouraged that these friends would contact me without knowing what I was going through, and I believed God had used them as His messengers of love.
The apostle Paul knew the power of prayer when he wrote to the people in the church of Corinth. He said he trusted that God would continue to deliver them from peril “as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). And when God answered their prayers, He would be glorified as the people gave Him thanks for the “answer to the prayers of many” (v. 11).
My friends and Paul’s supporters were engaging in the ministry of intercession, which Oswald Chambers calls “a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit through which the Father is glorified.” As we focus our minds and hearts on Jesus, we find Him shaping us, including how we pray. He enables us to give the gift of true intercession to friends, family members, and even strangers.
Has God put someone on your heart and mind for whom you can pray?
Read more from Oswald Chambers at utmost.org.
God hears the prayers of His people.
Paul endured far more than his share of trials. As he begins this deeply personal letter (see 2 Corinthians 1:3–7), he comforts the church in Corinth by using his own difficulties to identify with them. Then, with piercing candor, he reveals the depths of those trials—“far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (v. 8). Why would God permit His faithful servants to go through so much? Paul points to the reason: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (v. 9, emphasis added).
When facing despair, we can do far more than merely endure. We can use our travails to identify with and understand our brothers and sisters who suffer and to pray for them. And we can acknowledge the absolute necessity of God, who raises the dead.