And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it... And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous... And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.Numbers 12:1-2, 10, 13
God’s law, in one word, requires love. The first table of the law requires love to God; the second, love to others. This other-oriented love must be evident in our prayers. By nature, we are self-centered. Self, as a clear testimony of our sinful rebellion, is our god. Selfishness sticks to us like glue; it even permeates our prayers. Test yourself today: In your personal prayers, for whom did you pray? How much time did you devote to the needs of others compared to your own? Were you praying for the spiritual needs of others this morning? How much time was devoted to praying for your family, fellow church members, office-bearers, teachers, students, governing officials, and neighbors?
How much time today did you devote to prayer for those with whom you are encountering difficulties? Did you pray more for yourself, for help in handling difficult situations, or did you truly pray for others? How much time did you devote to praying for those with special needs, cares, and concerns? If we truly love others, we love to pray for others. This does not mean that it is wrong to pray for ourselves, which is an important responsibility. But it is not our only responsibility. It is not wrong to care for ourselves – for our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical needs – but the key to maintaining a proper balance in prayer is obeying the Scripture’s command that we must love others as ourselves.
The value of intercessory prayer is tremendous. So often we view those leading the forces of God against the enemies, like Moses, as the most important people serving the church. We forget the value of the “Aarons” and “Hurs” who are holding up the blessing hands in prayer (Ex. 17:12). If the Aarons and the Hurs tire, Moses’ hands droop, and the church gains and accomplishes nothing. Who is serving the church most today? It may well be its intercessors, whom few would know by name.
We need to distinguish between public service and private service in the church of God. God has given abilities for both, and both are important. We need leaders like Moses, but we also need supporters like Aaron and Hur. Victory requires both. God has called and ordained men to serve publicly in His church. But He also calls “mothers in Israel” to serve privately with intercessory prayers and often blesses women with tender, prayerful hearts for others.
Praying for others and loving others are inseparable graces. Do you have enemies? Pray daily, sincerely, and earnestly for them. Those who pray in this manner will discover that they cannot view their former enemies as enemies anymore. Hatred disappears. This is one of the most beautiful fruits of intercessory prayer. You cannot hate a person for whom you are truly praying.
In Numbers 12 we witness Aaron and Miriam’s jealousy of Moses’ position. Moses was innocent of wrongdoing but they started finding fault with him behind his back, calling attention to his marriage to a non-Israelite, Ethiopian woman. In addition, they claimed that God had also spoken through them; Moses, they scoffed, was not so special. These accusations and claims implied that Moses was pushing himself to the foreground. Aaron and Miriam publicly undermined Moses’ divine calling and position.
How would you react if you discovered that another person was unjustly criticizing your decisions, questioning your motives, and attacking you behind your back?
When God struck Miriam with leprosy, what did Moses do? Did he say, “That’s good! That’s what she deserves after treating me the way she did”? Did he say, “Let her remain leprous for a while, that she may learn a lesson and be a good example for others”? No. By God’s grace, he responded with intercessory prayer:
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.Numbers 12:13
Would your reaction be similar to Moses’?
Scripture provides us with an example of intercessory prayer that exceeds even that of Moses: the Example of examples, Jesus christ. After His tormentors pounded the nails into His hands, He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Even now, in heaven, Christ continually intercedes for His people’s security, assurance, and comfort. All of His people are carried on His High Priestly shoulders and are bound upon His High Priestly heart. May this be the pattern for us to follow, so that we too may have the needs of others bound upon our hearts and addressed in our prayers.