I started to read the 2nd letter to the Corinthians this morning, and was stopped at the verses surrounding 2: Cor 1:11. The NLT version says,
And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
Paul and his companions experienced some serious persecution, from which they expected to die. But, there was an unexpected two fold result that came from this experience, that we read about in 1:9
We stopped relying on self.
We learnt to rely on God, who raises the dead.
These few short lines pack a powerful heart stopping punch. For in them we come to realise the full frailty of Paul and his companions humanity, come to full light. Despite his Damascus road experience with God, and his subsequent ministry in establishing, nurturing and growing the church – somewhere along the way, Paul and his companions became self sufficient. The seed of self reliance had started to bear fruit. But, the experience of persecution and with the face of certain death, they were forced to re-evaluate just how ineffective their self reliance was and turn back to God to fully trust and rely on him.
Asking others to pray for us and praying for others is a deeply communal activity. It’s the ultimate bookend of trusting and relying on God. It rids us of our self reliance. There is no isolation in prayer. For in prayer, we truly join in the communion with the Godhead, and in prayer, we accept the invitation to join in the Trinitarian dance of life.
It’s also a celebratory act. For within the framework of community, God graciously answers our prayers. He meets with us in our hour of need. He provides for us. And through his provision, and the meeting of our need, he continually shows us that we are made for community, a community that has no room for self reliance.
So I ask you, do you have a ministry of helps?