Petition That Aims At Praise
II Corinthians 1:11
“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 explains in the verses prior to this that they (Paul & Timothy) endure deadly peril based on the hope which they have that they will ultimately be delivered in the resurrection, for they relied not on themselves “but on God who raises the dead”. Then in verse eleven Paul allows the church to participate in their endurance by entreating, even commanding them, to help them by prayer. I could use this as a chance to write about the corporate role of the church in the perseverance of the individual saint, but instead I would like to inspect what this passage speaks about prayer.
As there seems to be three successive parts to the idea set forth in verse 11, I would like to inspect them in the order that they appear.
- 1. “You also must help us by prayer….” With this simple command Paul speaks to the power of prayer in respect to their ministry and endurance. Paul set the example for this time and again as he lifted up the saints with whom he interacted. Take for a couple of examples, Colossians 1:9 “…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,….”, 1 Thessalonians 1:2 “We give thanks to God for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers….”. Paul believed that the prayers of the church in Corinth would help them and bless them in their ministry. He is not relying on the people or the prayers themselves for his hope and supply of strength but is testifying that God is trustworthy in such a way that if they would pray God would act in the granting of a blessing. He is pointing them to his supply for endurance and entreating them to believe that God is that good Father that Jesus Christ testified of, one who does not grow weary like an unrighteous judge, but will “give justice speedily” “to his elect who cry to him day and night” (Luke 18:7). Paul gives no “maybe” or “perhaps” in this passage, but displays unwavering confidence in a God who answers the prayers of his children. One might say to never underestimate prayer but I believe it would be better to say to never underestimate the God who hears the prayer. Be diligent to pray for your brothers and sisters and especially your leaders as they will give an account for your souls and are often assailed in their labor for the Gospel. Be active in the endurance of each other, O Church! Help by prayer to the One who is the source of all help. Trust in his faithfulness and believe his word.
- 2. “…so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us….” It is interesting that Paul expects that the ultimate result of the help by prayer will be thanksgiving toward God. This displays the God-exalting and God-dependent mind that Paul had when writing this passage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The end of our prayers in not the blessing, which would seem to be the end, but the praise of God. One would think that when you make a request to God it is like when you order something and then receive it a week later in the mail. In that example the receiving of the item is the end, but this is not what Paul has in mind. Paul wants to be helped in order that God would be praised through thanksgiving! We find here an amazing truth about how we go about prayers of supplication and intercession in regards to the posture of our heart when we consider what the end goal of that prayer is. As we search our motives we should always check to see that our prayers of petition, supplication, and intercession flow from the desire that God would be worshiped in thanksgiving.
- 3. “…the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” It is Paul’s desire that this should be a corporate exercise in prayer. If the prayers of many leads to praise and thanksgiving for blessings granted, then no one person will be able to rob an ounce of glory from the Supplier of the blessing who hears their prayers. This is not to diminish the role of individual prayer, but to remind us that our time in the closet of prayer are being collected in bowls like incense (Rev 5:8) to be poured out before the throne and that we may not be alone in our petitions and thus should not take any credit. Many pray and many gives thanks so that the only one who receives praise is the Father who hears and pours out his blessing.
I hope that this verse can help us to pray with confidence for others, believing that our Father hears and acts according to his will which is ever for the good of his elect and that we would pray in order that God may be praised and thanked and that we would never seek our own praise and thanks as we labor on our knees but declare, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory…” Psalm 115:1