When He Prayed For His Friends

How important is it to pray for others?
Even the casual Bible reader knows that Job is an exemplary figure in the Bible. A lengthy book is devoted to his trials, and James pointed to him as an example of perseverance (James 5:11). Throughout unbelievable adversity, this man did not abandon his trust in God. True, his understanding of God was not always accurate, but he continued to hold his ground when others cast doubts about his relationship with the Almighty. Job deserves careful study.
One of Job’s most admirable traits was his dedication to prayer. This is stated early in the book. After noting that his sons and daughters would sometimes gather for feasts, Job’s concern for their spiritual purity is noted: “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).
Did Job’s intercessions on behalf of others accomplish anything? We assume so, but the text doesn’t say it explicitly. But that’s a valid question. Why should we spend time praying for others? Does it really bring good results?
The answer is found at the end of the book. After Job’s three “friends” have chided and derided him for not being honest about his sinfulness, God appears. After dealing with Job, God turned to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar: “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7). How fearful to know that the wrath of God is looming over you! Was there any hope?
The hope was immediately announced by God: “Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:8).
A great principle is then stated in verse 10: “And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” When we first hear that verse, we think a mistake has been made. We expected it to say that the friends’ losses were restored when Job prayed for them. But the point God makes is that Job was blessed when he prayed for his friends. Until he intervened for those who had unjustly charged him, he was still a poor man.
Why should we pray for others? James sums it up powerfully: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Part of what is availed is the improvement of conditions for those for whom we pray. But, as we have seen through Job, we improve our own standing with God when we pray for others.

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