I enjoy listening when someone who knows me prays for me in a specific way. I like this because I need prayer and when someone prays for me who knows me well enough to be specific, those prayers are more personal. I especially like this when I know the person praying for me lives a life committed to serving others. If I know that this person lives a life in which he or she gives up what most people seem to give in to — not giving in to striving for personal attention and status but giving up all the attention one normally wants by focusing on the needs of others — I am comforted even more because I know they are really praying for me and not just saying a prayer. I know this because I cannot think of a clearer characterization of Jesus than one who shows he really cares by denying himself.
If I were a master artist and took brush and palette and swept away the empty canvas with strokes of beauty by rendering the life of Jesus, I would present him as he was — casting off any attentiveness of his needs and throughly given to the needs of those around him. This is why I fell in love with Jesus. His soul is saturated with sympathy for the hurting. When I came to him one spring many years ago, it was as if I saw the end I was headed for and in pain and grief I pleaded for him to receive my broken spirited life. I still find that I need him everyday because of the daily challenge of keeping my inner critic quiet. The problem is, I cannot live up to the standard I set for myself, much less the biblical one; and so I need Jesus praying for me.
When I am reminded that Jesus is praying for me, I am comforted beyond all measure. I hear Jesus praying for me in John 17. In that prayer he prays, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation” (v17). In Romans 8:34, I am told that right now Jesus is praying for me even as enemies are condemning me. In Hebrews 7:25, I am told Jesus is always interceding for me. He does not stop! He never stops praying for me!
“His interceding for us reflects his heart—the same heart that carried him through life and down into death on behalf of his people is the heart that now manifests itself in constant pleading with and reminding and prevailing upon his Father to always welcome us.” (Gentle and Lowly by Ortlund pg. 80)
Jesus never stops praying for me because he never stops being Jesus. And Jesus’ soul is saturated with sympathy for me. And Jesus’ soul is saturated with sympathy for you (Hebrews 4:15).
Stephen Williams, January 16, 2021