Forgiveness And Prayer
A daily devotion for December 27th
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.
So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer. (Job 42:9)
Notice God's insistence on intercessory prayer here. What an interesting thing this is. God tells these friends,
There will be no pardon for you without Job's petition on your behalf. If you want to be received and forgiven, you must not only bring the sacrifices but also my servant Job must pray for you. What an instructive lesson this is on prayer. The significance of prayer is underscored in this passage, and it is so important that God says that unless Job prays, He will deal with the three friends
according to their folly (Job 42:8). How impoverished our lives and the lives of our friends and loved ones are simply because we think prayer is unimportant, and we do not bother to pray for one another. God emphasizes this here:
Your friends will not be accepted, Job, unless you pray for them. When Job prayed, they were indeed forgiven and pardoned.
What a beautiful picture of forgiveness here! I love to picture this scene in my imagination. Here is Job's chance, if he ever wanted it, to get even with these friends. When God sent them to him with their hats in their hands asking for pardon and asking for his prayers, how easy it would have been for him to have said,
Aha! I thought you'd come around! You were the ones who gave me all that trouble. You ran me down, you falsely accused me, you said all those evil things about me, and now I've got you where I want you. I'll let you sweat a little bit. I'm going to get even with you! That is what many of us would have said, but it is obvious that Job does not do that.
I wish we could have heard his prayer. I am sure it would have been something like this:
O Lord, here are these three friends of mine. They've been stubborn, hardheaded, foolish, ignorant men, just as I was, Lord. You forgave me, and now I ask you to forgive them as well. What a beautiful spirit of forgiveness is exercised here. Job might have said,
I called them miserable comforters, and that's what they were. I suggested that they were proud and cocky, and wisdom would die with them. But Lord, I was just as proud and just as ignorant. You forgave me, and so, Lord, I ask you to forgive them as well. The Lord heard Job's prayer and accepted it, and his friends were forgiven.
I do not think there is anything more contrary to the Christian spirit than having an unforgiving heart, holding a grudge, refusing to speak to another Christian, or behaving coldly in relationships with each other. Nothing is more removed from the spirit of Christian forgiveness than that. What a beautiful thing to see Job praying for his friends without a vestige of resentment or an attempt to get even on his part, but holding them up before God. God honors that prayer, forgives these men, and restores them to His grace.
Lord, thank You that in inviting me to pray for others, You are inviting me to participate in Your forgiveness.
Life Application: By having an unforgiving, bitter attitude toward others, have we short-circuited God's forgiveness toward us? Forgiving others enables both parties to realize God's grace.
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