Remember when God didn’t let Moses enter the Promised Land because he struck the rock rather than spoke to it? (Numbers 20:2-20) The punishment seemed harsh, but I believe God was trying to teach Israel the power of the spoken word when instructed by God’s Holy Spirit. Joshua seems to have caught on, commanding the sun to stop in its course in the military campaign against the five Amorite kings. The speed of that military campaign was stunning. (Joshua 9-10)
Regarding the heroes and heroines of the faith, scripture says
Hebrews 11:39-40 (AMP)
And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised,
Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].
God had us in mind for the completion of His promises to the heroes and heroines of the faith. In His eyes, we are connected to the generations.
In Revelation, John described golden bowls filled with incense, which are prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8, Psalm 141:2) Even though the saints have died, God can still use their prayers! The prayers have vitality. God says that when He sends out His word, it shall not return to Him empty, but accomplish what He purposed. (Isaiah 55:11) One wonders what the implications are for prayers guided by the Holy Spirit and birthed in scripture.
When we pray the prayer of St. Chrysostom, we cannot claim Chrysostom as a prayer partner because he is dead. What happens to prayers that have been prayed by many saints through the centuries? Is there a synergistic effect created by generations coming into agreement? Based on Hebrews 11:39-40, yes. When we join our voices to their prayers, we are helping to bring their prayers to completion, to perfection.
During the religious revival under King Hezekiah, the praise team was composed of the descendants of Samuel. The revival took place hundreds of years after Samuel died, not in Samuel’s life. The generations came into agreement, and a revival was born. Our God is a God of generations, of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.
The prayers through the ages are like beautiful threads of gold and azure and scarlet waiting to be woven into the tapestry of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The Church of England has a full repository of prayers for the church. In this season when the church is sore pressed, join your voices with the prayers of days gone by.
From St. Anselm, theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury:
“Hope of my heart,
strength of my soul,
help of my weakness,
by your powerful kindness complete
what in my powerless weakness I attempt.”
May it be so for Your servants in the General Synod and throughout the Church of England, dear Lord. Amen.
Some thoughts in this reflection came from “The Synergy of the Ages” by Dutch Sheets.