Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 1
There is a fine line between gossip and intercession. Intercession is when you talk to God about other people. Gossip is when you talk to people about people—and they can only listen but never be a solution. My dear friend R. T. Kendall says these profound words: “Remember this rule of thumb: if people gossip to you, they will also gossip about you.”
Gossip and intercession are so closely associated, it’s just an issue of who you go to about other people. The Corinthians chose intercession and not gossip. Intercession is so important. They are about to show us what prayer for people can do for them.
Charles Bent wrote, “Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbour on our knees.” The Corinthian church loves Paul and loves him on their knees. Listen to these words:
As you labor together with us through prayer. Because there are so many interceding for us, our deliverance will cause even more people to give thanks to God. What a gracious gift of mercy surrounds us because of your prayers! (2 Corinthians 1:11, TPT)
Or if you want a real punch to this verse, read it out of The Message:
You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.
Every time you pray for someone, you are helping them. Intercession is so much better than gossip. Choose to talk to the right person about the information you have about people. The Corinthian church did, and amazing things happened. The Message says it best: “You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation.” You get to be connected to people through your prayer life and be on a rescue mission for them.
When your prayer life is weak, so is your helping. People we love and their deliverance from a situation could very well be connected to your prayer life. Your greatest contribution to the people you love is to develop a prayer life on their behalf.
Here’s an important lesson I have learned: when I pray for people, I don’t gossip about them.
Let me be practical for a moment. Be deliberate in asking people if you can pray for them and then really pray for them. Don’t just tell them, “I’ll be praying for you.” Actually do it. Write it down. Get a notebook and label it “Intercession.”
Here’s a thought for you at church. Go one more step in your greetings and your hellos in church. We have so much surface, “Hey, how you doing?” and responses like “Great,” “Good,” and “Praise the Lord.” Make it a point if you hear of a need, pray for them right then and there. You don’t need to have an answer for their situation, but you can be part of the solution with prayer. Ask them, “Can we pray right now about that?” If you are having lunch with them, pray for their request while you pray for the meal.
Think of Paul’s words to these Corinthians: “You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.”
Can you imagine one of the members of the Corinthian church having this on their next job application: “Name a big project you helped create and worked on that had success.” And they write, “I helped the apostle Paul with his second missionary journey.” Did they go with him?
No, they just prayed for him and he said they played a crucial role. And then they hand the interviewer Paul’s “reference” letter.
We don’t think prayer counts. But according to the Bible, it counts. Big time. We need to have a high view of prayer. Prayer is participating in someone’s life. Prayer makes me part of your adventures. And you part of mine.
One of my favorite quotes on intercession is by Walter Wink. In fact, it’s one of the five prayer quotes I try to say every day before I pray. And this one is always a good reminder about 2 Corinthians 1:11. It’s simple but powerful: “History belongs to the intercessors.”
Make history today. Pray for someone today.