Friday, September 5, 2008

Paul suffers, and asks for prayer.

2 Cor. 1:8-11 (ESV)

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. [9] Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. [10] He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. [11] You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Paul shares his suffering with the Corinthians. Evidently it was great, so great Paul despaired of life. Perhaps he thought it was no longer worth living. In any case they were fairly certain they were going to die. Paul though shows how God used that to strengthen his faith. Yes even an apostles faith can be strengthened. The same goes for your pastor. It was to make him realize he could not rely on himself or those with him, but only on God who raises the dead. God delivers us daily, and He will deliver us again, once and for all on the last day. Not even death can separate us from God. He promises to deliver us. This is our hope. This is our comfort.

Then Paul commands the Corinthians to pray for Him, and those with Him. Sometimes prayer can be maligned. It can almost seem silly at times, as if God is your imaginary friend. It feels awkward as if you are talking to yourself. Sometimes it seems useless, because God doesn’t answer the prayer the way we hoped He would. But prayer is powerful, and God hears. And through those prayers we help people like Paul. We share our blessings through prayer with those around us. We should not get discouraged. But trust wholly in God who raises the dead, and leave the answer to the prayer with Him.


steve martin said...

AMEN, Pastor Erickson, AMEN!

It is hard to trust in God. So hard that He doesn't even leave that up to us.

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in our prayer. He knows what we need. And will give it to us. Whether we like it...or not!

Brigitte said...

What struck me today from the Sunday's Gospel lesson was that we are to be two or more to agree what we ask for. That would be even more powerful than me praying by myself.

I've met people, who when you start discussing problems with them turn everything immediately into a prayer. They pray with you over the phone. They pray with you in the narthex.

I don't have that kind of boldness often. I wish I was better at it.

Bror Erickson said...

As you can see I got around to the gospel lesson, but I didn't preach on it. However, I really think the Jesus was talking about what goes on in the Divine Service, coming together for prayer, among other things.
Jesus himself prayed often, and often alone. Not that Jesus is merely our example, but here we can take our example from him.
I have prayed over the phone with people, I have even initiated it. However, I'm not all that envious of those who turn every discussion and minor paper cut into a prayer. I don't think that is boldness. Often I think this is the modern Pharisaical trap, of praying in the market place with fancy robes. Piety to be seen, but not really lived, or believed. (Maybe that is a bit to far...) But seriously, Jesus would tell them to get a closet. Outside of Church, and meals, I don't like to pray in public. I will pray with people in Public, only in extreme circumstances. Most of the time I wait until I am in my closet.

Brigitte said...

I see what you mean. Certainly, it is about the church.

But under the circumstances, I think the prayers were appropriate, they comforted me and spurred us to action, as needed.
Would it fall under "the consolation of bretheren/sisters"?

None of those prayers were for show, and I have to say I really respect each one who has prayed with me.

I find it much easier to pray with children or with strangers at the pregnancy counseling center (if they want to). I find it much more scary with anyone approximately a peer.

The thing about the papercut, is, of course, an overstatement. Most of the time people have very grave concerns of one kind or another and everything we undertake should/could easily be done with more prayer, done anywhere at all.

Bror Erickson said...

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong perse in praying with people in need even in public. But not every conversation needs to turn into prayer. It becomes somewhat showy at times, and that is what I react against. Closets are good.