Book Reflection // July 17, 2022
The Ministry of Intercession by Andrew Murray
The reason I started reading this book was two-fold. One, I have enjoyed reading other books by Andrew Murray and have greatly appreciated the way he conveys his passion for Christ in his writing. Second, I was looking for a book on prayer that was more focused on the motivation behind prayer and would be a source of encouragement and challenge. I really enjoyed this short but focused dive into understanding the intercessory nature of prayer and Murray’s call for the church and its people to engage more deeply and consistently with prayer. I appreciated how often Murray brought me to engage with the Bible as I read through the different chapters. There was a deep passion for the Word of God in his writing and his desire for us all to engage with Jesus in prayer. This book challenged some of my misunderstandings and wandering away from the simple truths of praying in the name of Jesus. He motivated me to not only pray more, but to engage on a deeper level with Jesus as I pray. What I appreciated most about his writing was that it presented a beautiful picture of a life thoroughly engaged with the heart of Christ. Murray simply sought to present the heart of Jesus to me and let the Words of Christ work in me. My prayer is that I will be more engaged in prayer. That I will continue to see prayer not as a necessary addition to the journey, but the lifeline of this journey connecting me with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
Lack of Prayer
There is a simple truth in these words telling us that we simply do not pray as we ought. Not one believer following Christ would argue against the importance of prayer and would give full ascent to the notion that we should strive in earnest to develop a deeper and more intimate prayer life. Yet we rarely seek to take action in this respect. The simple fact being that we prioritize many other things over prayer, even good spiritual work that would enable us to sharpen our ministerial gifts (e.g., study of the word, visiting the sick, sharing our faith). We devalue the life of prayer by the simple daily choices we make.
“All thought of task and burden, of self-effort and strain, will pass away in the blessed faith that,
as simple as breathing is in the healthy natural life, so will praying be in the Christian life
that is led and filled by the Spirit of God.“
We must simply come to our Savior, who is even now praying for us. Following the example of Christ during his time on earth. With the limited time he had and the pressing needs of ministry, he took intentional frequent time to pray and intercede with the Father. Prayer was not an afterthought once ministry was complete. Prayer for Jesus was the fuel powering his work. As necessary as breathing is for life, so was prayer in the daily life of Christ. And so too must it be with us.
“If our failure teaches us to turn afresh to Him and find in Him the grace He gives
to pray as we ought, this humiliation may become our greatest blessing.“
So we turn to Jesus in humble prayer asking forgiveness and seeking grace. Grace to pray as we ought. In this our God will always supply our need. As we humbly pray in earnest desire to our Savior, he will draw near to us. He will enrich and empower our soul with his grace. And in this refreshing, we will be connected to the very heart of God. There will be strength for every good and pleasing work to the Lord.
Importance of Prayer
“Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work.
Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success.”
These words, which are absolutely true, cut deep into the heart of our daily lives. How often do we say these words to each other? How often do we acknowledge the importance and necessity of prayer for a given work. Yet, oftentimes prayer is just done in passing or with minimal thought. We may pray over a work that we are performing and we may even ask others to pray with us, but do we truly spend more time in prayer for the work than we do in the actual work? I confess that most of the time I simply give a short prayer, meaningful and sincere, but merely a preamble to actually doing the work God has called me to. Not realizing that prayer for that calling is a major aspect and necessity of that work.
“His one condition of success is to bring us into such dependence upon Himself
as that we shall not be able one single moment to do without Him.“
So we see that prayer is more than asking for God to simply bless our work and give us success in whatever endeavor we are engaged or even called to perform. Prayer is a gauge that indicates the condition of our heart. Jesus is not looking for a casual mention of acknowledgment or passing thanks. No, prayer is for us to learn humility and obedience. It is a call for us to engage with Christ in understanding our weakness and complete dependence up him alone. Prayer is a means to put to death our selfishness, pride, and arrogance.
Power of Prayer
“But have we understood that in the Holy Trinity, all the three persons have an equal
place in prayer, and that faith in the Holy Spirit of intercession praying in us
is as indispensable as faith in the Father and the Son?”
This is a key aspect of prayer that we so often neglect. The Spirit dwells within our hearts and enables us to pray, uttering prayers for us when our words fail us. Jesus is in heaven at this very moment praying for us to the Father. The Father hears both the Spirit and the Son. The Father’s heart is inclined to not only hear but to answer these prayers!
“We shall get some insight into the unchangeable necessity and certainty of the law:
what is asked in the name of Jesus Christ, in union with Him, out of
His nature and Spirit, must be given.”
This is the power of Christ in me. The Spirit dwells within me and when I pray in accordance with the Spirit of Christ, when I pray in union with the heart of Jesus, then my prayers must be answered. Not that they can be answered, but that they must be answered. We simply have such a small understanding of praying in Jesus’ name. We think we can simply add a tagline to our prayers and this fulfills that command of Jesus to pray in his name. No, it is more than that. There must be a union of our hearts with Christ and the Spirit. When we pray in Jesus’ name, it’s as though Jesus himself was offering that prayer. That my heart is so engaged with the heart of Jesus that his love and mercy and grace simply flow out of my mouth and to the throne of God above.
Secret of Prayer
“Every art unfolds its secrets and its beauty only to the man who practices it.”
This then is the secret to prayer… practice. We tend to over complicate this and put so many extra burdens and ideals on prayer. We feel inadequate. We feel unworthy. We feel unqualified. We feel overwhelmed by sin. We feel weighed down by guilt. We feel oppressed by our shame. These are simply reasons to actually go pray! God does not call us to pray once we feel we are ready and whole. He calls us to pray so that we can be ready and whole. The secret to prayer is that we are in relationship with our heavenly Father. The more we talk with our Father the more intimate we will be become. The more intimate we become, the more we will crave that relationship. Come in humbleness before the Lord and pour out your heart. He will hear you. He will answer you. He will change you. He will invite you into fellowship with Himself. Here you will find joy and peace and pleasure all your days.