Praying for Others
James Smith, 1859
A real Christian has sympathy with all true believers. They are taken up into his heart, and are included in his prayers. For them he praises God, and for them he pleads with God. As one with Christ, he is one with them. As interested in Christ, he feels interested in them. They may be poor and needy, they may be oppressed and despised, they may be weak and feebleóbut they excite his admiration, and draw forth his love.
How beautifully the conduct of David illustrates and confirms this. How many of his Psalms are intercessory. How often he pours out his heart unto God, in language similar to this, "Save your people, and bless your inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever." Psalm 28:9.
"Save Your People." All the Lord's people need salvation. Nor is it enough that they be saved once, they need to be saved often. They are frequently in danger, and often full of fears. Knowing this, we often pray, "Save your people." Save them from the guilt, power, dominion, and distressing consequences of sin. Save them from the malice, designs, temptations, and insinuations of Satan. Save them from the spirit, fascinations, oppressions, and customs of the world. Save them from the depravity, deceitfulness, gloom, or levity of their own hearts. Save them from the errors and heresies which are abroad and abound in the world. Save them from false teachers, hirelings, and wolves in sheep's clothing. Save them from all within them, and without them, that would lead them astray, dishonor you, or grieve your Holy Spirit, Save them with a present, perfect, and perpetual salvation.
"Bless Your inheritance." They are your own. You have a right to them, a saving interest in them, and a claim upon them. Chosen to be your portion, purchased to be your heritage, and claimed to be employed in your service, they are specially yours, therefore bless them. Bless them with your grace, to reign over them, rule in them, and consecrate them to yourself and your service. Bless them with your heavenly light to discover to them their dangers, to make known to them their privileges, and to guide them safe to glory. Bless them with everlasting strength, that they may be strong to labor for you, to conquer and overcome their foes, and to accomplish their journey to the promised land with pleasure. Bless them with delivering mercies, rescuing them from every danger, liberating them from every yoke, and raising them above the fear of death and dying. Bless them with your sweet presence to comfort them, and to be a guard, guide, and glory to them.
"Feed them." Be their Shepherd as well as their Savior. The Lord has provided food for his people, and pasture for his sheep, and has promised that they shall be fed. He has fed them in the wilderness, in the promised land, and even in Babylon. Lord, feed your people. Feed them with the bread of heaven. Feed them in green pastures, and beside the still waters. Feed them with necessary and sufficient food. Feed them daily, in sickness and health, in poverty and plenty, at home and abroad. Feed their bodies, and feed their souls. Lamb of God, feed them, and lead them to living fountains of water. Father of mercies, feed them at your own table with the fatness of your house, and make them drink of the river of your pleasures. Holy Spirit, feed them with sweet views of Christ, with bright unfoldings of the glorious gospel, and with foretastes of the heavenly glory. Lord, feed them, for they hunger and thirst after righteousness, they are poor and needy, and unless fed by you, they will faint along the way!
"Lift them up forever." You have said, "I will set him on high, because he has known my name." Lift them up out of self, above the fear of man, and out of the reach of Satan. Lift them up above the present evil world, to sit down in the heavenly places in Christ. Lift them up out of the grasp and gunshot of their enemies, and set them at liberty from him that puffs at them. Lift them up above their sins and sorrows, doubts and fears, darkness and gloom, to sit down with you as their Father, friend, and Savior. Lift them up into your presence and glory, where they shall see your face, hear your voice, and join in the songs of the celestial world. O, to dwell on high, and to have the place of our defense, the munitions of rocks!
Observe, God's promises are the foundation of our prayers. On them they rest. By them they are regulated. By them they are enforced. We may safely pray for what God has promised, both for ourselves and others. The Holy Spirit always convinces us of our need, and leads us to pray for the blessings God has promised. He quickens us to feel our need, leads us to see our wants, draws us to the throne of grace, and then helps our infirmities as we plead for promised blessings. David furnishes us with an excellent pattern for prayer. His language is simple, and in prayer our language should always be so. His words are few, there are no redundancies. Every word is important. It is the language of the heart rather than of the head. It is the language of one who knew God, had faith in God, and could freely ask great things of God. For no small mercies does he pleadóbut for salvation, God's greatest gift; for his blessing, which is the source of spiritual wealth, health, and happiness; for food, comprising all the good things of nature and grace; and for elevation, or all the joys, glories, and immunities of eternal glory.
Reader! do you pray? Do you pray from the heart? Do you pray for yourself? Here is a model for you, you need salvation, provision, God's blessing, and heaven. Set your heart upon them, and ask them in prayer. Ask for them with confidence. Ask for them with perseverance. Ask until you obtain them.
Do you pray for others? Prayers, supplications, intercessions, and giving of thanks, should be made for all men. You should intercede for others. For sinners, as Abraham did for Sodom. For believers, as David did in the passage we have been considering. Many have obtained a blessing, while they have been praying for others; as God turned the captivity of Job, while he prayed for his friends. Like him, then, let us pray for our friends, for the Lord's people in general, and be this our prayer, "Save your people, and bless your inheritance; feed them also, and lift them up forever!"