April 12 2010[ comments ]
The Prayer of Intercession (2)
Recently, we posted an article on the prayer of intercession, as well as a podcast by Brother Tom Goetz on the prayer of companions as revealed in Matthew 18. In this article we'd like to look at a section of this chapter in a little more detail.
What is the Father's heart toward the Gentiles and tax collectors?
According to the Lord's word in this chapter, if a brother sins against us and refuses to repent after we reprove him both personally and also with one or two other witnesses, we should bring the situation to the church, and if he refuses to hear the church, he should be to us "like the Gentile and the tax collector" (vv. 15-17).
At this point, it seems like the Lord is telling us to give up on this brother, to let him go. According to a footnote, to consider someone as a Gentile and a tax collector is to cut him off from the fellowship of the church. This action, which is required by God's righteousness, is a serious one, for when we are cut off from the fellowship of the church, we lose the enjoyment of Christ and are cut off from the circulation in the Body. Thus, to consider this brother as a Gentile and tax collector seems like giving up on him.
However, as Brother Tom asked in his podcast, what is the Lord's heart toward the Gentiles and tax collectors? First Timothy 2:4 says that our Savior God "desires all men to be saved." Furthermore, Matthew 18:11 and 14 say, "The Son of Man came to save that which is lost," and, "It is not the will of your Father...that one of these little ones perish." According to His righteousness, God must judge the Gentiles and tax collectors, but according to His mercy, He desires to save them. Likewise, His heart toward the brother in this chapter is not that he would perish but that he would be recovered back to the fellowship of the church.
Praying according to the Father's heart
We can see the Father's heart through the actions of the two or three companions in Matthew 18. According to this chapter, the two or three companions, who earlier had reproved the sinning brother, did not give up on him. Instead, they were gathered into the name of the Son, and with Him in their midst, they prayed in harmony prayers of intercession, the binding and loosing prayers.
What a beautiful picture! The companions were gathered into the name of the Son, indicating that they became one with the Son and with the Father as well, for the Son and the Father are one (John 10:30). As a result, the Father's heart toward the sinning brother was duplicated in their heart, and the desire of the Father in the heavens was expressed through their harmonious prayer on the earth.
We need to have the Father's heart for people duplicated in our heart. Therefore, when we come together with our companions to pray for our friends, we need to be gathered into the Lord's name, enjoying Him by calling on Him and pray-reading His word, so that we may become one with Him and may know the desire in His heart toward our friends. Once we are in harmony with Him and with one another, we may boldly pray the prayers of intercession, even commanding that the Lord do certain things on behalf of our friends. If we do this, whatever we ask will be done for us, for our Father is more than willing to answer the prayers of those whose hearts are one with His.