The Power of Intercessory Prayer to Connect Us With Christ
The apostle Paul identifies himself, and by extension all true Christians, as doulos, a slave of Christ Jesus. He also notes that we are kletos, called, and aphoridzo, set apart. We are asking how to connect authentically, appropriately, spiritually, emotionally, and faithfully with this identity we have on account of genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ. We’ve already examined the role of love, humility, and thanksgiving that Paul mentions in Romans 1:1-8. The fourth clue we find for connecting with Christ as doulos (slave), kletos (called), and aphoridzo (set apart) comes from Paul’s announcement of his continual prayers for the Christians in Rome. His intercession for them is a function of the identity in Christ he is explaining to them. He writes,
Romans 1:9-10 (ESV) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
A called, set apart slave of Christ Jesus prays. They communicate with the Master. They seek His person, His presence, His power, His purpose, and His plan. A slave does not assume the will of the Master. A slave receives and obeys the will of the Master. Christians come to know the mind and heart of Jesus through several avenues: the word of God; the Spirit of God; faithfulness (which is faith plus obedience, a topic we’ll explore in a later post) in the areas of worship, service, and fellowship; and prayer.
Prayer is an intentional, personal, intimate, ongoing conversation with God. I call it a conversation because a genuine conversation involves both speaking and listening. Prayer is more than simply speaking to God what is on our mind at any given moment. Prayer is a vehicle for relationship. We speak and we listen. We listen and we learn. We speak again better informed in the relationship and better able to listen. Prayer is a means for knowing God, for getting personal with the One Who “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all.” Prayer expands our horizons when it comes to understanding the character of God as He graciously relates to us personally.
I know my wife dislikes bananas. She refuses to eat them. She turns away from the very aroma of bananas. There is no disguising them in bread or puddings or anything else. Her observable behavior tells me she dislikes bananas, but only through a conversation with her did I come to understand why she dislikes bananas. Observing her behavior only reveals a few limited facts. Conversation provides framework not only for understanding the facts, but for understanding the person to whom the facts pertain. Creation reveals the invisible attributes of God which we are all responsible to know. Prayer reveals the heart of God which we are all privileged to know, if we will seek Him out.
Paul declares that in his role as doulos he continually, persistently, consistently converses with God about the church in Rome and his desire to fellowship with them face to face. We’ve recently had the opportunity to experience some of Paul’s desire, haven’t we? In these days of pandemic protocols, Zoom meetings are a sad substitute for personal interaction, and while I love that we have the ability to LiveStream, there is nothing to compare to gathering with God’s people and seeing the glory on their faces (as compared to preaching to a lens and having only a camera stare back.)
The point is this, Christian. If you want to connect personally to your identity as a doulos of Christ Jesus, and you should, make prayer, intercessory prayer, a part of your life. Set aside the time to converse with God. Show up. Be present. Pray. Speak. Listen. Speak again after listening. Prayer is a vital service role in the life of a doulos. Don’t skip it. Don’t neglect it. Don’t ignore it. You do need to pray, and there are those around you, both in the kingdom and in the world, who need you to pray as part of your role as doulos of Christ.
Let this life of service to Christ in prayer be for us as it was for Paul: a life ministry to which God Himself bears favorable witness.