The Prayer Principle of Preservation

"I have prayed...your faith fail not." Luke 22:32

Principle: Intercessory prayer calls on the power of God to bring the best out of the worst people, and to make the best out of the worst situations.

Jesus knew temptation would be inflicted on Peter. He was not surprised by the attack or shocked by the results. Peter did not believe he was vulnerable to the enemy and that he could rise above any challenges that came his way. He did not take the warning seriously and he was humiliated by his failure.

Intercessory prayer steps between man and God. It chooses the path of prayer, and avoids the jungle of judgment. Judging appears at first glance to be a quick fix in dealing with people who disappoint us. The problem is that judgment entangles us in the failures and foibles of others. Before long, more time is spent pointing out the faults of others, rather than pointing people to the way, the truth and the life...Jesus.

Praying for another person to be preserved from the consequences of their own sin is a sign of maturity in the child of God. Investing in intercession rather than judgment redeems the time and the person from being a lost cause. People will often fail to meet our expectations. The choice becomes praying for them, or talking about them. Jesus told His disciples that He would pray for them. His followers should do no less. Those who have failed to live up to God's best for their lives may still have a lot to bring to the table, and intercession has a way of creating a hunger in them to return to the banquet.

The intercession of Jesus did not make Peter incapable of failing Satan's test. It did succeed in reestablishing Peter's faith in God. Intercession starts at the point of the first sign of separation between man and God. Its goal is to bring them back together again. This is how God has ordained for people to be preserved from the consequences of their failure. When Christ followers intercede for others and refrain from judging them, their own hearts remain tender to the turn around that Jesus knows can be performed in the heart of a sinner.

When people become a bone in the throat or a rock in the shoe, it is time to pray for them. Jesus knew what Peter was capable of, both negatively and positively. He prayed for Peter, but Peter failed to pray for himself. Peter was filled with pride in himself and his position. The events he would face would pressure him until what was on the inside spilled out. He was ashamed of what he saw in himself, by the time he denied Jesus.

Prayerless people cannot be prevented from sin, but intercession has the power to preserve them from the consequences of their sin. The preservation takes the fruit of the harvest, keeps it from being wasted, and saves it for another day. Sin may place a person on the shelf for a period of time, but preservation through prayer can still produce a taste of the first fruits God had in mind for their lives.

What a shame it would have been if the church had missed out on what Peter had to offer. It is accurate to say that he failed a test under the stress of overwhelming circumstances. Jesus interceded for him, and a change took place in Peter. He was preserved for future ministry, even though he had been intimidated by immediate circumstances. Intercession created a hunger in his heart to return to the One who could restore him to the right relationship he longed to have.

Intercession paved the way for Peter to keep walking with Jesus, and to give centuries of Christ followers the challenge to, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you." (I Peter 5:6-7)

The Practice of Prayer: Make a list of the people who have failed to live up to your expectations. Your assessment of them may be accurate, but it may also be judgment. Invest more time in praying for them than you have in talking about them. Ask God to bring out His best in them, and to remove the bone in your throat and the rock in your shoe of judgment.

Thought for the Day: Interceding for someone who has let you down, tenderizes your heart to what God may do in their lives. It is like coughing out the bone in your throat, and shaking out the rock in your shoe. It prepares the way for God to preserve someone or some situation. Don't be surprised if He brings them to you, after you have brought them to Him in prayer. All you have to say is, "Welcome Home!"

"Discernment is never given in order to exercise judgment, but intercession." Oswald Chambers