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Every one of us has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other people through the power of intercessory prayer.
In Genesis 40, we read the story of a wrongfully imprisoned Joseph who, with God’s help, interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler (cupbearer) and his baker. Joseph told the cupbearer that his dream indicated that he would be freed and restored to his position. After saying this, he told him, “But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon” (Genesis 40:14-15).
Later on in the chapter, though, we are told that the cupbearer did not remember Joseph; he forgot.
Why did the cupbearer forget? We don’t know for sure, but we can surmise a few things. He was restored to his position, after some time in prison. It’s easy to imagine that he would be overwhelmed with joy at his sudden freedom. We can also imagine that he would want to make sure that he never had to go back, so he may have thrown himself into his job with renewed vigor. And, perhaps, he was a little afraid to intercede with Pharaoh, and so allowed himself to just move on with his own life.
Imagine if you were summoned to meet the president of your country. You’d likely be a little nervous, trying not to say or do the wrong thing. You’d want to look your best. You’d want to have something memorable to say, perhaps, or some personal cause that you would like him to espouse. How likely would you be to ask a favor for a friend in trouble? How likely would you be to even remember your friends in the stress and excitement of meeting a powerful person?
And yet we have this opportunity every day of every week of every year. At any moment, we can stop and speak to the most powerful Being in the universe, entrusting Him with our gratitude, our needs and our desires. As often as we are moved to do so, we can come before the throne of the Lord, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. More, throughout the New Testament we are urged to come before Him in prayer often. Paul writes, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).
I can remember the wonder that filled me the first time that a friend mentioned that she would add some concern of mine to the things that she prayed about for me. I was astonished at this revelation that she was already—without my asking it—spending part of her time with God talking about me and making requests on my behalf. She was telling me that I was so important to her that she would regularly mention my name to God and request His mercy and blessing in my life.
What about us? When we go before the Lord in prayer, are we so concerned with the things that are going on in our lives that we forget to intercede for others? Do we wait until there is a crisis situation? Are we, in short, like Pharaoh’s cupbearer—who in his master’s presence forgot his fellow prisoner? Or are we remembering to pray for not just those in immediate need, but indeed everyone we know? In fact, we ought even to be praying for those that we do not know personally.
Going back to 1 Timothy 2 and continuing on, we read, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Let’s not be like the cupbearer, who forgot Joseph for two years. When we exercise the freedom we have to “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), let us remember to intercede for others as well as making the requests and supplications for ourselves.
Virtual Christian Magazine (Jan 2011)