Discipline Unto Prayer (continued)
What Job went through! This verse seems to me a kind of peak and climax of his experience, as well as a turning point for him personally. He prayed for his friends. What a prayer! What a need! And what a man to pray it! We must not regard prayer as one of those lessor activities of life. It seems with Job that this is the culmination of all his life. Now he can pray! You may say: 'Now he is rich.' That is true. 'Now he is prosperous.' That is true. But I would say, when we have got through to chapter 42: Now he can pray. Not that he had not prayed before, but something had been done in the man himself which gave a quality to his prayer. We remember that in the case of our Lord Jesus the fruit of His conflict with satan, the culmination of all His experience, is this very thing - that now he lives to intercede. This is not just the fact that we can pray, and the wonder that God answers prayer, or that "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of," or that sort of thing; but something far deeper. "He ever liveth to make intercession" (Hebrews 7:25). How much we owe to His praying! But how much His prayers owe to what He is! The quality of the prayer comes from Him, of course, as the Son of God, the perfect One; but also, as Hebrews tells us, it comes out of a deep experience of discipline and suffering which have made Him an able intercessor.
"The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends." It is very easy to pray for your friends when they are friends, but I think it is not straining this story to say that when Job prayed, he was praying for his enemies. I fail to see anything more that they could have done to make life impossible for him than what they did. The only thing they could have done was to leave him alone, and he begged them to, but they would not. It was not out of affection - that sort of feeling we have for our friends that makes us want to pray for them. It was the men who had caused him so much pin and grief, but who so needed prayer. I wonder if we can see that! Here are men: they know all about God. Some of the precious things that were said about God in the Book of Job are said, not by Job, but by his friends. Job's friends said some of the passages you love. They were right, they knew all about Him, and yet they were utterly different from Him - hard, censorious, ungracious. That is a challenge to us. You may know all about God, but be very unlike Him.
It is very interesting that Job's experiences were taken by the Lord to bring to the surface and disclose, not only his own state and need, but the state and need of his friends. How much may circle round your experience, and mine, for other people as well as for us! It was all coming to the surface; not only what Job was, but what they were, and it was how harsh and critical and unkind they were to him personally. I may be wrong, but I always feel that when Job began to curse his day, that was really caused by his friends. When all the sufferings came, he blessed the Lord and was patient. But these men came to commiserate with him, and for seven days they sat there and did not say anything; but seven days of a critical atmosphere, seven days of eyes upon you, and you know what they were thinking. It was too much for Job, and it is often too much for us. And then they began to open their mouths, and the second phase of their so-called friendliness came in. What a painful experience it was for Job to have the barbed arrows of their unjust interpretation of his experience, their wrong judgments, all thrust into his quivering, suffering flesh. They were the people that needed prayer.
You do not thing of them like that. You think they need something else, but they need prayer. When God revealed Himself, not only was Job abashed, but these men were stricken. It is a new light upon the harsh, hard, critical people that make life more painful than it is. It is true that when Hob saw everything in the light of God's presence, he saw himself, but he also saw the need of those poor men. They needed prayer. Well, they were new men in that sense; but what a new man Job was when he prayed for them!
(continued with # 49 - (New Power In Prayer)