Personal and Family Devotions
Thursday, March 19th
Grace and Peace to you!
Throughout this crisis, I’ll be sending you devotions/studies with some readings and questions, along with some links for songs and hymns. I’ll try to include some great quotes too (Hey, I love quotes!) to help us discover wisdom from the past to live well right now. These are unprecedented days for us with the unexpected rushing at high velocity into our lives. These are not unprecedented experiences, however, in history, making this a season in which we can draw on the experiences of those who’ve gone before us, together with the hope of the Scriptures, to strengthen our souls against the threats of fear, anxiety, and despair. Let’s get to it!
Jesus Intercedes for His People
Readings: John 17; Psalm 110; Hebrews 7:15-25
“I’ll pray for you” are words we’ve all said and probably said more than usual the past few days. It’s a great joy as well to hear those words from someone you know means them and will follow through on them. We not only know that we need to pray but also that we need others to pray for us. In fact, we often try to recruit as our partners in prayers those we imagine are really ‘good’ at it or have an ‘inside track’! Well, we already know that none of us really ‘know how to pray’ (Romans 8:26), and that all of us have the same access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18), and that we have the perfect prayer to offer, taught to us by Jesus (Matthew 6:7-13).
If we’re still feeling a little insecure about our own prayers and those of others, however, we should remember that Jesus not only gave us the perfect prayer to offer, he is also our perfect priest praying perfectly for us right now. Talk about a prayer partner!
Think about it: whatever you’re facing today, Jesus is not only with you and in you but is also praying for you.
“I have prayed for you so that your faith won’t fail”, he told Peter on the eve of Peter’s greatest failure as a Jesus follower. We fail, but our faith won’t give way, not because we have strong faith but because we have a perfect high priest who is always interceding for us. “He lives to intercede for you”, Paul reminds us (Romans 8:34).
Hebrews tells us that Jesus’ prayers for us as our High Priest never cease and result in our maturing in grace and faith. He saved us by his intercession for us on the cross and he will see through to completion his great work in us by his intercession for us at the right hand of the Father.
“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” – Hebrews 7:25
What is Jesus praying for you right now? We have a glimpse of his perfect praying for us in John 17, where the Gospel records a lengthy prayer Jesus offers to the Father concerning himself, his Apostles, and us – all who believe in him through the witness of the Apostles. Just look at these verses as Jesus prays on this occasion, not for the needs of the whole world, but very specifically for the needs of his people.
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
This petition – sometimes called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer – comes right on the heels of him promising to be with us when we face great pain and trouble, right after exhorting us, ‘In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Over the next few days, we will consider together this prayer of Jesus for his people and I trust that this will accomplish two specific goals: 1) your comfort and hope, as you pause to realize what a powerful and merciful Savior you have; 2) that this prayer will help form the words of your own prayers for others.
Read John 17 together as a family or on your own and discuss:
- What are the chief concerns Jesus has for his people in his prayers? In other words, what does he most especially desire to see happen in our lives?
- Do we pray for the same things in our lives as Jesus prays for? In other words, do our priorities match his?
- Why does Jesus refuse to ask that we be taken out of the world, but prays instead for our protection from evil in it?
Midday: Read Psalm 110 and offer up this prayer:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Evening: Read Hebrews 7:15-25 and rest knowing that Christ never ceases to intercede for you, praying perfectly for all that is most important in our lives.
Hymn for Today: It Is Well With My Soul
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