Monthly Archives: February 2012

Jesus’ Prayer Partners

Jesus said in John 17, “I pray for them.”

At the right hand of the Throne of God in Heaven, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”

Now, if Jesus at the right hand of the Father is praying for His own, what does this mean for you and me?

I’d like to relate an experience I had years ago—one of the most meaningful revelations I ever received.  I had been going through a very difficult time—one of those times when you feel like you are going under for the third time… never to come up again.  I had gone under like Jonah.  The weeds were wrapped about my head.  One evening during this painful time I was in a little gathering with a few others.  There had been some singing, and then a time of quiet worship.  I was standing with my eyes shut, and my head bowed, and my hands folded… and feeling such a deep anguish.  I began to pray in myself, “Lord, I am feeling so bad… what I need is… I need You Yourself to pray for me…  Lord… please, You pray for me, that’s what I need.  I need You to pray for me.”  I continued on like this for a little while, head bowed, eyes shut, in my heart crying out to the Lord to pray for me…

…And suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder.  One of the brothers had quietly walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  Then another joined him.  And another.  And after a few moments the brothers and sisters were all standing around me praying for me.

I just broke.

And light dawned!  Jesus had answered my prayer!  Jesus Himself had prayed for me… just as I had asked Him to.  Oh, what a healing experience that was for me!

It was a revelation I never forgot.  The body of Christ is not just an organization, beloved.  The body of Christ is a living reality.  The body of Christ is just that—the body of Christ Himself.  We who have the Holy Spirit of Christ in us—can you believe such a wonder?—here in the earth we are the members of Christ.

And oh, how we need to be awakened more fully into this reality—that what the Head is doing in Heaven, the Body is doing here in the earth.  When He stretches forth His hand to heal, His arm here in the earth stretches out that hand, and healing with the power of the Throne of heaven goes forth.

When He prays, we pray—and it is effectual prayer, prayer with the power of the Throne in it.

Now I realize why Paul the apostle was such a praying man.  Read his epistles.  They are full of prayer.

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers… (1 Thes. 1.2).

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always (continually) praying for you… (Col. 1.3).

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers… (Rom. 1.9)

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day (2 Tim. 1.3, and note the singular thee here).

I won’t quote more; it’s all over the place.  Paul was such a praying man.  But we miss much if we think of this in terms of Paul himself initiating all this prayer… and we get to admiring Paul.  Why was Paul like this?  I believe it was because Paul was very close to that Intercessor who sits on the throne of Heaven.  This One by His Spirit indwelt Paul.  And so these prayers of Paul are in essence the prayers of Christ Himself.  Perhaps that is better put by saying that Jesus on the throne of Heaven had a prayer partner—Paul, among others.  Jesus prayed, Jesus wanted to pray, and so He sought out His prayer partner Paul, who, it appears, was always more than ready to get down on his knees and pray with his Lord.  Since Jesus was continually interceding for His own, Paul too was habitually interceding.

Let us be seeking this same kind of intimacy with Jesus, and be always ready to pray with Him.  Jude calls us to be “praying in the Holy Ghost…”  That hits the nail on the head.  When we are praying in the Holy Spirit, it is the prayer of Christ Himself that is going up to the Father.

And if there was ever an hour when the brothers and sisters needed this kind of powerful prayer and intercession, it is now.

Let us be praying for one another, beloved.  Because this is what Jesus is doing.  “I pray for them,” He says.  Let us be Jesus’ prayer partners, then.  He may just put His hand on someone’s shoulder through you or me.

Jesus Prays For Thee

Does it not fill you with awe, and humble you—to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ prays for you?

He prays for you.  And prays for me.

I know how you feel—this seems backward; isn’t it you and I who do the praying to Him?

But remember, Jesus told Peter He had prayed for him, that his faith fail not.  We are not told just when this happened, but it appears Jesus often prayed for His disciples while He was here on earth.  I think of the time when His disciples were struggling to cross the sea of Galilee against contrary winds in the darkness of night.  Jesus, we are told, had had gone “into a mountain apart to pray” (Mt. 14.23).  No doubt it was His disciples He was praying for.  “He saw them toiling in rowing” (Mk. 6.48).  That’s pretty good vision Jesus had, isn’t it, to be able to see His disciples in the darkness of the night across the stormy waters.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them “walking on the sea” (Mt. 14.25).

He still has the same good sight.  He sees us even now in our toils and struggles.  Even now He continues praying for us from the heavenly Mountain He has ascended into.  He makes intercession for us, as He did those disciples of old.   He tells us as much in John 17, which is the record of a prayer Jesus prayed during the Last Supper, praying as though He were already ascended to the right hand of His Father in Heaven.

I pray for them (Jn. 17.9).

He is speaking of His disciples back then.  But He adds:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word… (Jn. 17.20).

And the writer of Hebrews tells us:

Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7.25).

And in Romans we read:

Who is he that condemneth?  (Since) it is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8.34).

And so it’s very encouraging—that the main ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of the Father in Heaven is as our great and powerful Intercessor.

It could be said that there are two main ministries in this universe.  One is the ministry of the Accuser of the brethren.  The other is the ministry of the Intercessor of the brethren.

Beloved, one of these two ministries we want no part of—either on the giving or the receiving end.  But when we do find ourselves on the receiving end of the Accuser of the brethren, oh, how wonderful to know that we have One who ever liveth to make intercession for us.

It’s very encouraging the way Paul brings in the fact that Christ’s intercession for us is as One who is seated at the right hand of God—the place of the greatest power in the universe.  In other words, He is not making intercession for us as One who pleads with great love and desire, but has no power.  He intercedes as One whose intercession is filled with the power of the Throne of God, and is therefore effectual.

It is a wonderful thing to know that Our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of power is there as our great high priest and intercessor.  He is my great High Priest—who laid down His life for me on the Altar of the Cross of Calvary.  But my great High Priest is also the great King.  He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He has all power in Heaven and earth.  He is able to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.”  How so?  His intercession on our behalf—on your behalf, and mine—has the power of the throne of God in it.

Now… maybe you already see where this truth is going to take us… which I will get into next time.

…But wait a minute.  How can I resist closing here with the wonderful words of one of my favourite hymns?  I’m singing it right now as I listen to it on Cyberhymnal.

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/a/r/i/arisemys.htm

And I’m rejoicing!  How can we not rejoice, brother, sister, to have so great a Salvation, and so loving a Saviour and Intercessor before the Throne of Grace!  Let us rejoice!

Here is the hymn, one of Charles Wesley’s finest:

Arise, my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above,
For me to intercede;
His all redeeming love,
His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears;
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers;
they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray,
His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away
the presence of His Son;
The Spirit answers to the blood,
The Spirit answers to the blood
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Jesus Loves Thee

As an example of the use of the singular thee in the King James Version, Bible teacher Ron Bailey (in the previous post) cited Jesus’ words to Peter just prior to that devastating night when he denied his Lord three times.

Jesus had said;

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat,
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Lk. 22.31,32).

You is always plural in the KJV.  The Lord is telling Peter that Satan has desired (or more accurately, has claimed and obtained permission) to sift them all (collectively) as wheat.  But the Lord now shows His very personal interest in each one of his disciples, telling Peter specifically, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…”

This prayer of course was answered.  Peter’s faith was tried very severely, tried to the depths.  But it did not fail.  He came out of this heart-searching ordeal a very broken man with a heart to strengthen his brethren.  There had been impurities in him, and so the accuser of the brethren had claimed the right to have him.  No doubt his wicked motive was to completely destroy Peter.  But along with an accuser who was jealous of him, and hated him, Peter also had an intercessor who loved him deeply, and it was His intention in all this to bring Peter forth a pure and sifted kernel of wheat.

(And remember that the Lord, with purposed intent and healing love, later gave Peter the opportunity to affirm his love for Him—three times.  See John Chapter 21.)

It’s very encouraging to know—and very necessary to know—that in times of trial and testing we have such an intercessor at the right hand of God—the place of all authority.  He is determined to see us through.  He prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.  That prayer was answered.  He prays for us also, with the same power of the throne in His prayers.  He loves us with an everlasting love.  Loves you and me, I mean—as He loved Peter.  He prays for me.  He prays for you.

He is deeply committed to us—individually.

Paul tells us that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1.4).

But a little later on in this same letter to the Galatian churches we find Paul affirming that He “loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2.20).

How deeply we ourselves need this conviction, this persuasion—that Jesus not only died for us, but died for each of us—for you, for me.

And we need to know (thanks to Robert Wurtz for the following insight) that He will never leave us—that is, will never leave you, will never leave me.

The writer of Hebrews says: “Let your conversation (your conduct, your way of life) be without covetousness: and be content with such things as ye have…”

Note the plural there:  “Let your conversation… such things as ye have…”  Your and ye are also always plurals in the KJV.

But now he continues: “For He (Himself) hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”  (Heb. 13.5).

Thee?  That means you, beloved Christian.  That means me.

Thank you, Jesus.  Eradicate all doubt for our hearts, Lord, so that we know and believe the love You have for each one of us, even in times when You are silent.  May we always put our trust in You.  You are at the right hand of God, and ever live to make intercession for us—each one of us, that is.  Amen.

Teach Thyself Olde Englishe

You often hear people say they don’t like the King James Version of the Bible because of the archaic language—the thee’s and thou’s.  But this is the very reason—at least one of the reasons—I love the KJV.  (There are also reasons I don’t like it, but that’s a story for another day.) The Bible has hidden riches that it takes the usage of the pronouns thee and thou to find.  In subsequent posts on A Mending Feast I hope to bring some of these riches out, so felt I needed to lay this groundwork first.

In modern English we use the pronoun you for both singular and plural, but in the KJV thee and thou are always singular pronouns and you is always plural, a distinction none of the modern versions is able to give us.

So even if you use one of the modern versions I highly recommend becoming familiar with the KJV.  Read it slowly, and carefully, and pay close attention to this usage.  I have found the following article helpful.  It was put together a few years ago by Ron Bailey of Reading, England (one of the best Bible teachers around, in my estimation).  Some of the content, particularly the chart he uses, is from: http://dan.tobias.name/frivolity/archaic-grammar.html

Teach Thyself Olde Englishe (by Ron Bailey, 2005)

Why should anyone bother with such an archaic concept? Well, some may just be curious, but there are occasions when the switch from thou to you is quite significant.

For example: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32 KJV).

In this setting the Lord includes Simon in a larger group of those whom Satan had desired: you; but assures him of His personal prayer on his behalf: thou.

Or moving in the opposite direction: “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exo 3:11-12 KJV).

In this setting the Lord is speaking personally to Moses with the repeated pronoun thou, but His promise is that not only Moses but all the people (ye) will serve God upon the mountain.  It is not really possible to convey these ideas in modern English, and as the languages that God used to convey His revelation, both Hebrew and Greek, had thou and thee as well as ye and you it is sometimes good to get as close as we can to the original ideas.

This chart should help you to sort it out a little better:

Subjective (nominative)

Objective (accusative)

Possessive (genitive)

Verb Ending

Irregular Verbs

1st Person Singular

I me my, mine 1 none am

2nd Person Singular

thou thee thy, thine 1 -est art, hast, dost, shalt, wilt

3rd Person Singular

he, she, it him, her, it his, her/hers, its -eth is, hath, doth

1st Person Plural

we us our, ours none are

2nd Person Plural

ye 2 you your, yours none are

3rd Person Plural

they them their, theirs none are

Chart notes:

1. My/mine and thy/thine were used similarly to a/an; my and thy preceded a word beginning with a consonant sound, while mine and thine preceded a word beginning with a vowel sound.
2. Note that ye is the nominative and you is the accusative, which is counterintuitive given that thou/thee go the opposite way. When town criers yelled, “Hear Ye!” the ye in question is the subject, not the object, of the hearing. Also note that using ye in place of the, as in, “Ye olde candye shoppe,” is incorrect; this derives from a mistaken interpretation of an archaic spelling of the using a former runic letter later replaced by th; this letter kind of resembled a lowercase y, and when printing was invented, early printers, lacking the already-obsolete letter in their movable type, sometimes used a y for it when transcribing old documents.

Familiar and Formal Forms of Address

To further complicate the use of pronouns, English in the period in question made a distinction in second-person pronouns depending on whether you were addressing somebody in a familiar or formal mode. This concept is familiar to students of other languages that have such forms of address, like the distinction between tu and usted in Spanish. Actually, the usage of vous in French best parallels the forms of address in medieval English.  It’s a second-person plural pronoun that’s also used in the singular when addressing somebody in a formal way.

The singular pronouns thou and thee were considered “familiar,” meaning that they were appropriate for use among close friends and family.  When addressing somebody who was not so close, however, the use of thou or thee implied that you regarded them as being of lower social class than you were, and hence was definitely inappropriate when addressing your social superiors.  People could be punished for contempt of court for addressing a judge in this manner, for instance.  To address somebody outside the circle of familiarity in a respectful way, especially when they were of higher social class or in a position of power, ye and you were used, even though the addressee was singular rather than plural.

This is the opposite of what we often expect. Some people like the sound of thee because they think it makes God sound more majestic and dignified. In fact, thou is much more intimate than you in King James Version English, and you would have been much more dignified and majestic.  Thee brings you “closer” to God than you did. This is one of the reasons that thou has survived in romantic poetry.  During Sir Walter Raleigh’s trial one of his accusers became exasperated with him and tried to humiliate him with the phrase “I, thou thee, sir.”  It is quite unintelligible to modern ears, but his accuser in refusing to give Raleigh his proper courtesy pronoun of you, was relegating him to the position of a servant boy who would have been addressed as thou.

The Quaker use of thee and thou was a refusal to give to ordinary people the status that you implied. They regarded the use of you to a single person as assisting the single person’s pride and aspirations to grandeur, and would not be part of this. They refused to doff their hats for the same reason. Eventually, with the rise of more egalitarian philosophies in contrast to the rigid hierarchies of feudalism, having two different forms of address was regarded as excess baggage, and you reached its modern usage with no distinction of familiar or formal, singular or plural, or nominative or accusative. This was already true by the time that the King James Version was translated, so the translators use of thee, thou,
ye was a conscious but already archaic choice.

Ron Bailey, 2005

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