Interceding for our Persecutors

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Luke 23:34 NLT

It may seem hard to pray for God to forgive and bless our enemies, but it’s a healing balm for us as well as for them. I once heard a preacher on the radio say that you cannot feel bitterness while praying for God to lavishly bless your enemy. I did not believe it, but when I tried it, I found it to be true. After all, hasn’t God been extravagantly gracious and forgiving to us? Shouldn’t He give our enemy as much grace as He has given us? Shouldn’t we beg God to be as merciful to our enemy as He has been to us? I suppose I am using the term “enemy” loosely. It may not necessarily be an enemy but may be a friend who annoys us or a family member who frustrates us. Or it could be an outright enemy.

In 1979 at an Oklahoma radio station Wade Watts, a black minister, met Johnny Lee Clary, a KKK member, to discus racial issues between blacks and whites. Clary was full of hate, but Watts let him know, “You can’t do enough to me to make me hate you. I’m gonna love you and I’m gonna pray for you, whether you like it or not.” Clary did everything he could to test Watt’s love. He even burned his church down! Watts simply reminded him that there was nothing he could do to make him hate him, and he was going to ask God to forgive him for being stupid! You can read more about this amazing story here, but in the end instead of Clary getting Pastor Watts to hate him, Pastor Watts got Clary to love Jesus! Watts’ unconditional love and intercessory prayer changed the heart of a KKK member. Not only did Watts not hate Clary, but when Clary gave his heart to Jesus, the two actually became friends and worked in ministry together! By the way, Wade Watts was the uncle of J.C. Watts who is a former Oklahoma congressman as well as a former star quarterback for Oklahoma University. 

Image © Pacific Press Publishing Assn.

Jesus was not the only  biblical example of someone interceding for another who hurt them. When Miriam was disrespecting Moses, she was struck with leprosy from God. How did Moses react? Did he celebrate? No! The first thing out of his mouth was,

 “O God, I beg you, please heal her!” Numbers 12:13 NLT 

Years later Paul said,

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT 

Moses appreciated the reconciling love of God and wanted Miriam to be reconciled as well. Everyone who experiences the reconciling love of God will be given the ministry of reconciling others to God. To a heart subdued by the love of Christ it is not a chore but rather Paul describes it as a “wonderful message.” 

In the story of Job, Eliphaz was not the best friend to Job and also misrepresented God. In the end God told Eliphaz to offer a sacrifice, but it would only be accepted because of Job’s intercessory prayer on behalf of Eliphaz. 

My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. Job 42:8 NLT 

What an illustration of the power of intercessory prayer! Eliphaz will be accepted because of the prayer of Job. Not only did Job’s prayer bring healing to Eliphaz; it brought healing to Job himself.

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Job 42:10 NLT 

Paul, who speaks of the ministry of reconciliation, had much to be thankful for concerning Stephen’s intercessory prayer as he was being stoned to death. Paul, who was called Saul at the time, received the coats of the men who stoned Stephen, showing he gave his blessing for the the stoning and thus was just as guilty as those throwing the stones. Did Stephen pray for retaliation? No. He prayed, 

“Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. Acts 7:60 NLT 

By interceding for his murderers Stephen reflected the unconditional love of Jesus. In a grief recovery class I was teaching, a few members expressed sorrow that they hurt someone who died suddenly before that person could forgive them. That is when I realized the significance of Jesus and Stephen forgiving their tormentors as they died. By having a forgiving attitude if we die while someone owes us an apology they can have peace knowing they were automatically forgiven. Stephen’s intercession and attitude of forgiveness may also  have led to the conversion from Saul to Paul. From Moses and Miriam to Watts and Clary and beyond, I suppose all eternity will be filled with stories about how the intercessory prayers of the persecuted led to changed hearts and lives both in this world and the great hereafter. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

The Value of Intercessory Prayer

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Its’ a cliche by now, but the question goes “how does intercessory prayer work?” And the answer given many times is, “I don’t know but it works. When I turn on a light switch I don’t understand how electricity works but the light still comes on.”  God does not use force, and I have heard that by intercessory prayer we invite God to make radical changes by invitation so that it is not force. That is a theory but regardless if it is true or not I know intercessory prayer works.

In Matthew 9 a group of friends bring their friend to Jesus on the mat he was lying on. He needed physical and spiritual healing. It is interesting that Scripture says, When I was in my early twenties I was a part of a Bible study group. A certain young lady in our group stopped coming to the study and then dropped out of church all together. Our study group started praying for her. I also prayed on my own. Every night I would pray, “Lord please send your Holy Spirit to work on *Tammy’s heart.” I prayed that night after night for I can’t really remember how long. Then one night my phone rang. It was Tammy, telling me she was tired of what she referred to as her heathen friends. She said she wanted to come back to church. We decided to meet that evening at a restaurant. At the restaurant Tammy said, “I want to tell you something but you will think its crazy.” I assured her I would not think she was crazy. She told me, “I just feel like the Holy Spirit has really been working on my heart!” I was overjoyed! She repeated back to me the very words I had been praying every night. Intercessory prayer works. Now remember God never uses force. The people we pray for still have free will, but God surely leaves nothing undone that can lead to conversion. Tammy came back to church and our Bible study group.

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2 NLT

He did not just see the man’s faith who was sick. I’m not even sure he had faith. But when Jesus saw their faith He worked miracles in the man’s life. Again I may not be able to explain how intercessory prayer works, but I can observe it working.

The story of Job tells us how important intercessory prayer is. Let’s take a look,

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.  So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. Job 42:7-8 NLT

God would not accept Eliphaz’s sacrifice unless Job prayed for him. Interesting. The book of Job also gives an example of how God blesses us when we pray for our friends.

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Job 42:10 NLT

When we intercede and pray for others they are blessed and we are blessed too.

*The name “Tammy” is an alias.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Please consider contributing to my ministry here. 

Amazing Last Day Conversions

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: Daniel 4:34 NKJV

Do you pray for the salvation of your political leaders or do you think they are so corrupt there is no chance of them being saved?  There are some pretty cruel memes going around social media these days bashing both conservative and liberal leaders. Sadly many of these are shared by professed Christians. I can’t see Daniel sharing memes like that if they would have had Facebook in his day. I can’t Jesus posting cruel memes about the Roman Empire in His day either. I believe Daniel and Jesus were both too busy praying for the salvation of others to be wasting time mocking them on whatever social media venues were available in their day.

If you think certain political leaders are too far gone to be saved, let me encourage you. In Daniel 4 we see one of  the most corrupt leaders of all time become converted. The first six chapters of Daniel are filled with stories that will be repeated as the prophecies in the last six chapters unfold. The image in Daniel 3 is similar to the mark of the beast. I believe if Daniel 3 repeats itself, then Daniel 4 will repeat itself as well. I believe some ruthless pagan political leaders will be converted in the last days. Why else would Daniel 4 be in the middle of other stories that are to be repeated in the last days?

But even if leaders are as evil as some people believe, as Christians we have the example of Christ who, “when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9 NKJV) If Christ did not dare to insult and accuse Satan himself, how do we dare insult and accuse another human being? Especially when we don’t really know these leaders personally and have no clue about their personal life.

As we prepare for the end time, instead of using means that even the world recognizes as immoral, such as fake news, lies and gossip to bash political leaders who we think are pagan, let’s instead pray for their conversion.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV

I believe by praying in the last days the way Jesus and Daniel prayed in their days, we will see some pretty amazing conversions in our day.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lessons online.

You may support this ministry online.


The Last Prayer of Woodrow Hill

I am writing from the Beautiful Tampa bay area which was home to Jean and Woodrow Hill.

I am writing from the Beautiful Tampa bay area which was home to Jean and Woodrow Hill.

This last Thanksgiving my Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church family lost a dear patriarch and friend, when Woodrow Hill passed away at 95. I had been friends with Woodrow and his wife Jean, ever since I moved to Tampa ten years ago, but I still learned some intriguing things about him, after his death, that I never knew before. Do you find like me, that you always seem to learn something you never knew about someone after they died?  Oh, I knew Woodrow was a man of God. Always a cheerful smile on his face, even when I would go see him at the hospital, or when he would be delivering bread to the church’s community service center. Woodrow and his wife Jean would always tell me they were praying for me and my ministry. That means so much to me. It also means a lot to me when people comment on my blog posts and tell me they are praying for me or even leave a prayer as a comment. It helps to know I am not alone in this spiritual warfare. However, it wasn’t until he died, and I came over to his home, to visit with the family, that I learned some amazing things.

Woody’s stepdaughter said he became her daddy when she was 12. He was the best dad a girl could ever have, and she does not have one unpleasant memory after her mom married. The daughter (she never felt like a stepdaughter) went on to talk about Woodrow’s prayer life. As she sat in her daddy’s chair, she told me “he would be up all night praying and, by listening to the way he prayed you would think Jesus must be sitting in that chair right there that you are in.” The mother and daughter then both told me that the night before he died he was up all night praying for all of his church family, blood family, and neighbors until 6 in the morning! They told me he mentioned my name in his prayer, and it sent chills down my spine to know that this godly Patriarch had prayed for me in his last prayer.  At first I thought to myself, “Wow! He really appreciated my ministry!” Later as I recalled the incident, I thought, “All they said was that he prayed for me. They didn’t say how. He may have been praying for me to repent and be saved!”

I look back, and I wonder, why did he pray all night the night before he died? Why was he mentioning every soul he ever met?  Did he have a premonition that he was about to die, and wanted to say one last, long prayer, not for himself, but for everyone else before he died? This reminds me of only one other person-Jesus! As He hung on the cross, He told John to care for His mother. He prayed for His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him. Woodrow and Jesus were alike, as while they both faced death, their thoughts and prayers were only for those around them. Woody, like Jesus, did not waste his last breath on himself, but used those last few precious breaths to bless others one last time.

I believe Woodrow was a true disciple of Jesus, and was able to live the selfless life that Jesus lived because He prayed the selfless prayers that Jesus prayed. I don’t think we can expect to live the way Jesus lived in the multitude, until we pray the way Jesus prayed when He was all alone. In Matthew 14:1-32 we read about Jesus walking on the water, while Peter at first walked on the water and then stumbled and fell. Earlier, in that chapter we saw Jesus spending all night in prayer. I wonder, if Peter had prayed the way Jesus had prayed the night before, could he have walked the way Jesus walked on the water? Would His prayer life kept his eyes focused on Jesus instead of the waves, and those watching him? While walking on the water, Jesus was using no special powers that were not also available to Peter.  Later, in Acts 9:36-41 Peter does something remarkable that people thought only Jesus could do. Peter raises a community services leader back to life! Dorcas, the Christian Church’s first community services leader had died. Peter went over and raised her back to life! Remember me mentioning, how Woodrow delivered bread to the community services center? One day he will be raised back to life as well. This story tells me how precious community services leaders and workers are to God! I don’t read anywhere in my New Testament about a conference president, pastor or Bible Worker being raised back to life, but God raised a community services leader back to life! They must be very special to Him. Now look with me at what Peter did before he raised her to life. (Of course it was the Father, not Peter doing the work, just as Jesus said He did nothing of Himself, but it was the Father doing the works. See John 5:19-21)

But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! Acts 9:40 NLT

When Peter fell in the waves, no record of Peter praying first is mentioned. Of course when he cried out for Jesus to save him, that was a prayer which Jesus immediately answered! But here we see Peter praying the way Jesus prayed before He worked the miracles that Jesus worked. Peter could do the works that Jesus did, once He prayed the prayers that Jesus prayed.

The night before Jesus died He was up all night praying, and asked His disciples to pray with him, but when His disciples fell asleep He quickly excused their humanity, saying the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. While men in their prime of life fell asleep trying to pray, 2,000 years later, Woodrow, a  95 year -old man prayed through the night. Woodrow was a true disciple of Jesus, doing something Jesus asked His disciple to do 2,000 years ago, which they did not. Oh how precious Woodrow’s prayer must have been to Jesus!

It’s no mystery how Woodrow was able to leave such a legacy behind for his family. Woodrow was able to live the way Jesus lived, because he prayed the way Jesus prayed.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson on prayer and Discipleship here.