Gospel Fruit Through Intercessory Prayer

“As a prisoner for the lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

                                                                                                                                                                Ephesians 4:1-7

In focusing upon the message of this text we see that we are called to live in a way consistent with the Gospel of Christ.  In Christ we have been delivered out of this dark world and translated into the Kingdom of the Son of God.  This is a Kingdom which is characterized by the light of the grace of Christ.  Paul writes that we are to be diligent in pursuing the unity which the Holy Spirit has created within the Body of Christ.  In the real, concrete trials and tribulations of our lives we are to maintain this reality.  Notice that Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit has already brought this into being in the Gospel.  It is our responsibility to maintain it.

The life we are called to live is a consequence of the powerful reality of what God has accomplished in the Gospel.  Paul roots this in the eternal plan and purpose of God which is centred upon the sacrificial work of Christ upon the cross.  Christopher Seitz towards the end of his chapter, entitled “Prayer in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible”, in Prayer in the New Testament, edited by Richard Longenecker writes about this reality in the following extended quotation.

“In Isaiah, the “one and the many” relationship is extended, quite specifically, to the nations outside of God’s covenant.  The use of Moses suggests an awareness of his ongoing, figuratively real presence.  Yet the “new thing” of Isaiah points to an enlargement of thought: that the servant is a man of prayer.  We see into his heart of anguish and find firm resolve there (50:7).  His prayer is but the utterance of his life itself, which is given up in obedience – like Moses before him.  But his intercession, even though very similar to that of Moses, costs him his life, brings life to a whole generation, and removes their iniquity – something that Moses did not do.  And in the context of this vocation, the servant of Isaiah 49-53 sees the final eschatological moment released for a split second in the confession of the nations (cf. 52:15).

                It is striking, however, that the content, technique, or spirituality of the servant’s prayer is hidden.  His intercession is known by its results and by its ongoing, dynamic character.  Its fruit (“he shall see seed”) is encountered in the final chapters of Isaiah in the “servants” who follow where he once walked.” (Prayer in the New Testament p. 21)

                What I understand Seitz to be saying here is that Isaiah’s prophesy of the Servant of the Lord is of one who sacrificially lays down His life to redeem a people for Himself out of the Nations of our World.  At the heart of this Gospel work, which we know to be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ is His intercessory praying.  This is a task that the Holy Spirit joins in accomplishing.  Those who believe are invited to join their own small voices to this great intercessory work.  Such intercession produces Godly, Gospel fruit.  There is life in it, life that comes from God Himself.  What Isaiah saw, was, and is, fulfilled in Christ, and we are the fruit of it.  Praise God!