By and Through
2 Corinthians 1:11 (ESV) – You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Do your prayers matter? Most every Christian quickly affirms “yes” with their heads. We’ve been taught theologically that our prayers make a difference in the world. God hears them and answers them. Our minds affirm these truths. But often our hearts are slow to believe. We sometimes wonder in our hearts if our prayers are really doing anything at all. Does God hear them? Is God doing anything when we pray?
Our passage today gives us incredible insight into these questions. It is from 2 Corinthians 1:11. In the previous verses, Paul has talked about how God is the God of all comfort. He comforts sufferers in their afflictions. He provides comfort to believers so that those same believers can comfort others who are in affliction. Paul then goes on to discuss how he and his traveling companions experienced suffering in Asia. They were burdened. He says that the burdens were so heavy and beyond their strength they despaired of life itself. But all of this was so that they would rely on God and not themselves. The God who raises the dead could be their strength and help when they were weak and afflicted. That’s when we read our passage today, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
Paul asks the church in Corinth to help them by prayer. Notice it is “by” prayer that they help Paul. The prayers of these people for Paul and his companions are doing something. They help them as they travel, protect them, give their message power, and till the hearts of people to receive the word. Paul says many will give thanks to him and his fellow preachers because of the salvation and blessing that comes to them as the result of the prayers of many.
Don’t miss this. Paul requests the prayers of the church, and he believes those prayers are a means of grace from God. When the church prays, things happen. Paul believes their prayers are affecting Paul and his mission. God is not idle. Those prayers are bringing blessings and doing a work. Paul believed in the power of prayer.
Do we believe in the power of prayer? It is “by” and “through” prayer that Paul is helped by the church.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Renew yourself to it today. Commit to prayer and remember that God is at work through it even when you don’t immediately see it.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why are the words “by” and “through” so important in this passage?
- What does Paul say happens/will happen because of the prayers of this church?
- How does this passage encourage you to be more active and faithful in prayer?
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