What role does intercessory prayer play in the salvation of the nations?

Derek Thomas & 2 others
2 Min Read

THOMAS: Intercessory prayer is a key part of the nations’ salvation because God has made a promise, and He keeps it through means. Scripture is clear, from the first book to the last, that part of the means is our prayer and intercession. Intercessory prayer is key on both a personal and a corporate level.

If we hold to the maxim that the healthiness of a church is in its prayer meetings, we will be disappointed because we have very unhealthy churches today. If we measured the volume and depth of prayer in a typical twenty-first-century Reformed church compared to a church in the last few hundred years, there would be a qualitative and quantitative difference.

Psalm 2 is a fulfillment of what God told Abraham in Genesis 12. If we want to see that in all its fullness, as the closing chapters of Revelation express it, we need to be prayer warriors. As a church, both individually and corporately, we need to stand in the gap and pray. If we want to see Jesus coming again soon, or sooner than we think, we need to be praying for the nations to be gathered.

NICHOLS: There is the example of Jesus Himself weeping over Jerusalem. The context is that He was with the disciples, helping them see that the fields are white for harvest and giving them the vision of the need for the gospel. Then, we have Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer of intercession, which is a model for us in many ways. So, we have the necessity of this intercession in Jesus Himself, by command and example.

REEVES: Matthew 9, the classic mission text, says, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest that He might send out workers into the harvest field” (Matt. 9:38). The context of the verse is that Jesus saw the crowds, that they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, and He had compassion on them, and so He said to the disciples, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest.” That is a very odd thing to say, and we think: “You are the One feeling compassion for them. Surely, one prayer of Christ’s would be worth far more than all of theirs, so why was He asking them to pray?”

Matthew 9:38 helps us see that salvation is about being drawn in to share the life of the Son before the Father. Sharing the life of the Son means sharing His passion, concern, and desire for their one plan for the church, to see the glory of God fill the earth. Our prayers for missions are an important part of our Christ-likeness. It is part of being united to the Son, enjoying life in Him, and praying like Him: “Our Father . . . ”

This is a transcript of Derek Thomas’, Stephen Nichols’, and Michael Reeves’ answers given during our Blessed in Christ: Detroit 2021 Conference and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.