「Prayer for others」 Ezra3
A Christian barber was praying that his customer would believe in Jesus and be able to go to heaven. After cutting the customer`s hair, as he was shaving his beard with a blade in his hand he asked the customer, “Are you prepared to die and go to the next life?” Trembling, the customer replied, “No, I`m not ready to die.”
It is said that prayer is as necessary as breathing for the Christian. If we stop praying we die spiritually. We are told that the religious reformer, Martin Luther prayed for three hours every day. He is alleged to have said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
A reporter approached Billy Graham who has probably preached to more people than anyone else and asked, “As an evangelist, what would you consider to be the most important thing?” “First, prayer. Second, prayer. Third, prayer,” was his answer. We know the importance of prayer from the number of times it is mentioned in the Bible. “Pray continually.” I Thessalonians 5:17. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2. “Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” I Peter 4:7. “There is nothing in this world that cannot be achieved by heartfelt prayer.” Mahatma Gandhi.
When Ezra heard that the people, including the priests and Levites had taken foreign wives, he tore his clothes and prayed. “At the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord, `…our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached the heavens.`” Ezra 9:1-6. Japanese people do not know that it is sin to worship other gods but the Jewish people knew the true God and that it was sin to worship any other god and yet still did so. Their sin was therefore great. The sin of worshipping other gods included male and female prostitution in the temple and the sacrifice of children. Ezra was heart-broken when he realized that the Jewish people had taken worshippers of other gods as their wives and he prayed on their behalf.
One of the great things about Ezra was that although he had not taken a foreign woman as his wife or turned his back on God, yet he still prayed and confessed as though he had committed those sins. We often do not take responsibility for our own sins but blame them on others. There are not many people who will take the responsibility for the sins of others as though it were their own responsibility. When we are aware of our sin, repent and ask for forgiveness we will be forgiven. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9.
From the days of Moses the history of Israel has shown a repetition of following God and then going after other gods. The Jewish people who went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple reverted to the sins of their fathers and took women who worshipped other gods as their wives. The weakness and sinfulness of mankind is shown in this. As a result of Ezra`s intercessory prayer a miracle took place and the people repented. They admitted their lack of faith. Prayer won over sin and the people`s hearts were changed. In this we can see the power of prayer. “While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women and children – gathered around him. They too wept bitterly….`We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us.” Ezra 10:1-4.
Prayer has power. The all-powerful God works in response to our prayers. Everyone, no matter who they are is able to pray. Let us not give up but continue praying for the salvation of our families and friends, the growth of the church and for peace in the world. Also, let us pray for God`s plan when we meet troubles.