This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Brother Jacob (from Mozambique), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b)
A word of encouragement can strengthen even a beleaguered soul, as in Brother Jacob's short anecdote:
A short message on a piece of paper in a rice bowl was a tremendous assurance of God's faithfulness--to me and to my family.
At the same time, in prison, I was well aware of the prayers of others for me.
What encouraged me greatly was the news--which I received through local Christians who visited me in prison--that brothers and sisters around the world were praying for me.
When someone was led away from the prison cell we would often hear the muffled gunshots somewhere in the prison complex. I often thought that it could be my turn tomorrow.
'Father, please tell your children around the world to pray for me.'
I believe He did. I believe they did.
Oh, how I could rest in the knowledge and comfort of those prayers, regardless of what tomorrow would bring.
May I encourage you today with these words:
Your prayers are heard --
Your prayers are answered --
Your prayers for us are experienced by us.
What a great spiritual bond--all over the world.
A moment of introspection: Why do we intercede for our brothers and sisters around the world who bear the marks of faithfulness in their lives--faithfulness to Christ? Is it because God's Word bids us do so (1 Corinthians 12:26; Hebrews 13:3)? That would be reason enough and, indeed, these verses spur us to our knees with hearts open and receptive to God's mercy and grace. With our spirits attuned to God's will through His Holy Spirit, we bring the needs before our heavenly Father and lay them at the foot of His throne--confident that He will hear and answer.
But we must remember that there is also the great cloud of witnesses who experience God's power through our prayers. Sometimes we lose sight of the impact of our intercession. We learn of persecution; we pray for those who bear it in our stead; and we have the confidence of our audience with the divine. Brother Jacob adds a greater complexity and stronger motivation to our prayer. When we intercede, we trust that God is active--that He cares for His own and that His care and love are expressed in the lives of those for whom we pray. Brother Jacob stands in a long line of Christians attesting to the working out of God's will in response to concerted prayer. Others have echoed Jacob's statement that "Your prayers for us are experienced by us." When we intercede, we acknowledge our dependency on God's will--on His purpose. He expresses that intent or purpose as He ministers to our hurting family, and our prayers indirectly provide succor to the ones for whom intercession is breathed.
But there are many more ways to augment our prayer through action on behalf of God's people: alive but suffering, in the world today. Web sites like:
and others, offer opportunities to communicate our care for our extended family in ways that encourage and lift up despite dire circumstances and despite the hatred of the world for the people of God. We can write letters to prisoners, advocate with governments for greater compassion for persecuted Christians, sign petitions for release of Christian prisoners, etc., and our intercession takes on greater depth through these means. Through prayer, we strengthen the "great spiritual bond" between us and those for whom we pray. The impact of our prayer is multiplied, though, when we take the time to advocate for and write encouraging letters to the same. When we write letters to our suffering brothers and sisters of the faith, we have an opportunity to talk directly to them, to pray over the letter or card and for its travel to the one for which it is intended. Pray for those who first see the letter, for their salvation and for their family. If a jailer, pray for him; if a prison warden, intercede for him and his prison staff. Pray for the family of the one to whom you've written. Think of others surrounding the prisoner, such as cell mates, and pray for them. "Your prayers are heard -- Your prayers are answered -- Your prayers are experienced by us."
Preach it, Brother Jacob!