WHILE STUDYING THE BOOK OF JOB, I was intrigued by this verse: “So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did regularly” (Job 1:5, NKJV).
When was the last time you asked God to forgive someone else?
• Did you ask Him to turn away from punishing those who deserve it and instead to forgive and redeem them?
• Did you offer burnt offerings, so to speak? Did you cry out for the sins of others?
• Did you intercede on behalf of someone who doesn’t know that you are pleading their case before God?
Is it possible that such an exercise has merit, both for the person you pray for and for you personally?
As Jesus is dying on the cross He makes an extraordinary statement of intercession and forgiveness for the sins of His executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Amazing! He chooses to forgive those who haven’t even asked to be forgiven! Jesus’ plea is not only for His executioners but for the sins of all who—by their
transgressions—have nailed God to the tree.
On my heart lately has been the thought of crying out to God as Job did, asking His forgiveness not only for my sins but for those of a child, a spouse, a brother or sister—even those who seem to have no remorse or no desire to walk with God. Some of these people might laugh in scorn or even become angry that they are being lifted before God in
Scripture convinces me that the prayer of a sinner on behalf of another sinner is a transformationally powerful and effective gift from God—a gift that I have failed to exercise regularly.
Recently, one of my prayer partners shared this: “I was cleaning out a long border of flowers along our fence. It was taken over by weeds and a tiny little vine that starts at the base so thin and pretty and innocent but grows and twists and overpowers and chokes.
As I weeded, the fence row became my altar for confessing the sins of my children. With each yank at weeds and vines, I cried out to God. The dirt that crept under my fingernails and covered my hands and knees seemed so fitting. Afterward, the reward [was] a tidy, clean fence row . . . with plants that had breathing room and nothing choking them.”
Job is not the only one who interceded for others. Many prophets and leaders in the Old Testament pleaded for God to be merciful to others who weren’t even asking for grace. Throughout Scripture we see a pattern: an impossible problem presents itself, often a problem caused by the sins of a person or the nation, and then one of God’s leaders lifts
up a prayer for forgiveness and restoration. Wonderfully, God responds to these prayers with abundant mercy!
Is God placing anyone on your heart to cry out for? It may be a person in your family, a church member or coworker, or even your nation. Your faith in action will not be in vain. God hears and is moved by humble hearts.
Editor’s Note: A powerful book on prayer is Incredible Answers to Prayer by Roger J. Morneau.