Letter from John Woodhouse

Dear friends,

Can I encourage you, as you finish reading this letter, to pray? A simple suggestion, but — for most of us — a big ask. In these Bulletin letters I have been sharing thoughts with you about praying for some time. My purpose is to encourage us all to be thoughtfully and deliberately engaging in this wonderful, but perplexing activity. I am persuaded that being a praying Christian, and being a praying church, is a wonderful thing.

We should be careful not to think that our efforts in prayer have some kind of independent power. Just as we depend on the work of our Lord Jesus Christ for our redemption, so we depend on the intercession of Christ for our prayers. As we pray, let us not forget that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1), “who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). It would be a mistake to think that by our prayers we become the mediators between God and those for whom we pray. There is but one mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). But isn’t this a great incentive to pray?!

It would be a mistake to think that the powerful and effective work of Jesus interceding for us gives us a reason not to pray. The apostle Paul often urged believers to pray for him, precisely because of the Lord Jesus. “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Romans 15:30). Likewise Paul himself constantly prayed for other believers (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 1:2).

The reality is that as we are united with Christ (that is, as we trust in him), our prayers are united with his intercession. His death and resurrection for us is the power of his intercession for us (see Romans 8:34). Just so, our prayers are powerful only because of the work of Jesus. They are only powerful therefore as they depend on him.

This means, of course, that our prayers are very powerful indeed. Their power, however, lies not in our prayers, but in the Lord Jesus in whose name we pray.

Let us pray!

John Woodhouse
Acting Senior Minister