Posted by: Brian Musser | December 14, 2012

Praying for Others When We Are a Mess

Job 42:7-9 (NIV) After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.  So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”  So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

A few years ago I was working through the Book of Job.  I have a sermon that summarizes the entire book.  During my studies I came across these verses.  I know I had read them before but I never pictured what was truly going on.

At this point in the story Job is still destitute.  He is homeless.  He has no possessions. As far as we know he is still sick.  His wife has still told him to “curse God and die.”  The last people he prayed for, his children, are still dead in a terrible disaster.  I’m sure Job still has some major questions about God rolling around in his head.  As far as the story goes the only thing that has changed is that now God and Job are once again communicating.  On the other side are Job’s friends.  They are still rich and healthy with strong families and lots of possessions.

It is in the middle of this great chaos of Job’s life that God asks him to pray for his friends.  Think about that for a moment.  Job’s first prayer after meeting God in the middle of the worst imaginable circumstances is one for his friends.  He prays for the forgiveness of friends that seem to have it all together.  He doesn’t pray for his own requests and his own needs.  God asks him to pray for those of others.  This story brings a whole lot of questions to my mind.  Here are few to think about.

How can I bless my friends with my prayers?

Have I disqualified myself from praying for others?

Have I missed opportunities to pray for others because I was too focused on my own issues?

Have I assumed that some of my friends who look like they have it all together don’t need my prayers?

Would I be willing to let someone who looks as messed up as Job pray for me?

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