Last night, amidst hungry mosquitos, noisy cicadas, and several very loud trains rumbling past just feet away, I got to spend 3 hours over coffee with a new friend. Our friendship, as of right now, is about 6 hours old – all spent over coffee, talking and laughing over the cacophony of passing trains at our favorite coffee shop. Sometimes, God gives us the gift of instant friendship and for me, this is one of those times.
The hours she and I have spent have been filled with the things that make my soul sing: funny stories, sarcastic jokes, and deep theological discussions. Last night’s conversation reached its pinnacle, not in our laughter, but as we sat in awed silence for a few minutes, contemplating a beautiful, mind-blowing truth.
Hebrews 7 is, quite simply, a stunning passage – incredibly rich, deep, and surprising, like a really good cup of coffee. I could spend paragraphs taking it apart, examining it, taking us back to the Old Testament to explore a short, but profound story. But there is one verse that has always stood out to me, and it was this very verse that ushered my new friend and I into a few moments of holy, silent awe:
Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)
That’s right. At this very moment, Jesus Himself is praying for you, and me, and my new friend, and Houston, Beaumont, Rockport, Sierra Leone… Jesus is praying for us!
That’s such an amazing thought, but let’s take it a little further.
How often do we pray for other people? Our friends, our family, our coworkers, and strangers in faraway towns? Most of us pray for others pretty regularly. It’s what those of us who believe in the power of prayer do. We trust that God cares about the intimate details of our lives and the lives of those we love, and so we bring Him our fears, our worries, our pains, and our desires, and we do that for the people we care about. It’s a beautiful system, if you think about it.
But here’s where Hebrews 7:25 blows that all out of the water. When we pray, we are bound by certain limitations – time, understanding, less than full knowledge of a given situation, our own sinful nature and desires, and even by language. BUT, Jesus isn’t bound by any of this. More than that, Jesus transcends all time, all understanding, all knowledge. He has no sin in Him. And He speaks the very language of God because He is God.
This means that when He is praying for us, we know that Jesus is praying the most perfect prayer possible. He knows that situation you’re concerned about – beginning, middle, and end – so He knows exactly how to pray and intercede on your behalf in a way no human ever could, no matter how much they love you.
And, the prayers that Jesus prays for us will always be answered in the affirmative. Paul puts it this way: “All the promises of God find their yes in Him” (2 Corinthians 1:20, ESV).
As if that wasn’t enough, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26, ESV). When we can’t find the words to pray, the Spirit digs in deeper than our words ever could.
I have clung to these promises in the last few weeks, when national and world events have left me without words in my heartbreak. When I have been too weary to pray for my neighbor, the Spirit has brought my intentions to the throne of God. When I’ve not known what to ask God for in my own life concerning my own future, Jesus has asked on my behalf.
What I’m learning (besides that I will never fully grasp how much God really loves me this side of Heaven) is that prayer is not the burden I sometimes feel it is. Rather, like so much else in my walk with Jesus, prayer isn’t about me at all. It has always been, and always will be about Jesus – He paved the way for us to God, He taught us how to pray, and He does the praying for us that we can’t do for ourselves. All we need to do sometimes is just sit quietly, bathing in the knowledge that the God who asks us to bring Him our burdens is already carrying them for us.
So what does this mean for us? When I got home last night, the following quote was all over my Twitter feed, and I think it perfectly captures what I’m trying to say here:
If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. ~ Robert Murray M’Cheyne
The fact that Jesus is praying for you right now means that you have absolutely nothing at all ever to worry about. He knows what you need. He knows what you want. He knows what is the absolute best thing for you. You can rest in that, knowing that when you pray, not only does God hear you, but with His whole being – Father, Son, and Spirit – He is there praying right along with you! How great is this God we serve!
How does understanding that Jesus is constantly praying for you change your outlook on life today?