Praying to the Names of Jesus Week Twenty-One, Day Four
Jesus is both Priest — the One who faithfully bears us into God's presence by virtue of his self-sacrifice — and Prophet — the One who perfectly communicates God's Word to us. We are called to listen to him, to trust in his work, and to take our places as part of a kingdom of priests who in Christ Jesus offer ourselves on behalf of others. As you pray to Jesus as both Priest and Prophet, ask him to help you understand the deep meaning of these titles so that you can live out their truths in your life.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Hebrews 1:1
Praying the Name
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9 - 10
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But those who prophesy speak to people for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 1 Corinthians 14:1 - 3
Reflect On: 1 Peter 2:9 - 10; 1 Corinthians 14:1 - 3.
Praise God: For giving you the privilege of becoming an intercessor.
Offer Thanks: Because Jesus has called you into service in his kingdom.
Confess: Any selfishness that impedes your prayers.
Ask God: To increase the power of your prayers and to give you a desire for the gift of prophecy.
As Christians we know that our primary purpose in life is to imitate Christ. The goal is to become as much like Jesus as possible, expressing his heart to others. But did you know that becoming a "little Christ" also involves taking on certain of his roles? When it comes to Jesus' role as Priest and Prophet, the New Testament makes it clear that believers belong to "a royal priesthood" and that we are all to desire the gift of prophecy.
I don't know about you, but I find it hard to imagine myself presiding over a burnt offering or thunderously declaiming the Word of the Lord to anyone. But, of course, this is not how Christians are to express these roles. To put it simply, we are to be like priests in that we bear the people to God and like prophets in that we bear God's Word to the people.
Jesus, of course, was the greatest of all prophets because he was the only one able to represent God perfectly, without distortions. But we too should desire to communicate God in our words and through our deeds.
But what about being priests? What exactly does that mean? One of the most important ways that a priest represented people before God was to intercede for them, carrying them in prayer to God. As believers in Christ we have a great advantage over Old Testament priests because our High Priest has entered not an earthly temple but heaven itself, the holiest place in the universe, where he continually intercedes for us. Our own prayers are meant not to be uttered in isolation but to be spoken in him and through him. I like how Michael Ramsey defines intercession:
To intercede is to bear others on the heart in God's presence. . . . Intercession thus becomes not the bombardment of God with requests so much as the bringing of our desires within the stream of God's own compassion. . . . The compassion of God flows ceaselessly toward the world, but it seems to wait upon the cooperation of human wills. This cooperation is partly by God's creatures doing the things which God desires to be done, and partly by prayers which are also channels of God's compassion.
Real intercession, then, does not consist in presenting God with a laundry list of demands or requests. Instead it involves spending time in God's presence, seeking his will, being guided by his Spirit as we offer up prayers on behalf of others. As Evelyn Underhill put it: Each time you take a human soul with you into your prayer, you accept from God a piece of spiritual work with all its implications and with all its cost — a cost which may mean for you spiritual exhaustion and darkness, and may even include vicarious suffering, the Cross. In offering yourselves on such levels of prayer for the sake of others, you are offering to take your part in the mysterious activities of the spiritual world; to share the saving work of Christ. . . . Real intercession is not merely a petition but a piece of work, involving costly self surrender to God for the work he wants done on other souls.
Ask Christ to increase your desire to be like him, to speak his Word with a pure heart, and to reflect his love by becoming an intercessor, taking others into your heart so that you can carry them into God's presence through prayer.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.