Our Prayers and God’s Deliverance (Sat. Oct. 29)

The word of the day is “deliverance.”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, St. Paul writes that God has delivered “us” from some unnamed peril. Some believe that the Apostle refers to the menace of his adversaries in Ephesus (1 Cor. 6:9). But Paul’s story is filled with plots, threats, slanders, imprisonments, beatings, illnesses, and shipwrecks. He was also lost at sea, in frequent danger from robbers, and even stoned (2  Cor. 11:25. But if Paul divulges the sense of danger and distress in this unidentified incident, it is only to emphasize his deliverance.

In Dire Straits

The word “trouble” is too weak for what Paul endured. At its root, the Greek word for “trouble” is “to be pressured” or to “suffer affliction.”  We might say that Paul was in “dire straits.”  Indeed, it looked like he was about to die (vs. 8). The divine answer to his despair was to put his trust in God. Surely the God who raises the dead could save him from this “sentence of death” (vs. 10).

The Orthodox Study Bible notes that “… But whatever [the trouble} it makes him [Paul] more aware of death and his dependence on God (vs. 9)—and more appreciative of the fellowship of other Christians, and the power of prayer” (OSB fn. On 1:8).

Helping with Prayers

Likewise, St. John Chrysostom notes that just after Paul gives credit to God for saving him, he goes on to add the role of his flock in this rescue, “You also helping together in prayer for us” (vs. 11). Chrysostom says that this comment was to “stir them up to prayers for others.”  Indeed, he says, “…even if God doeth anything in mercy, yet prayer doth mightily contribute thereunto” (NfPf:13).

For Reflection

From this passage, we learn how important are our prayers for our fellow members, especially when they are in distress. The Almighty could, of course, take care of all our “troubles” without the prayers of the faithful. But in His mercy, God asks us to participate in His care of others. By acting in and through our prayers for others, God increases our communion with Him.  And he strengthens our fellowship with one another. As we pray for one another,  our love for one another becomes stronger. We learn to depend on one another. And we have the joy of praising God together for answers to our mutual prayers.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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