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August 3, 2014
“Consolation Through Prayer”
2 Corinthians 1:3-11
(Click here for PDF: Consolation Through Prayer Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!
(Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited)
Is there anything worse than when happening upon a time of trouble, to have friends that are “miserable comforters,” (Job 16:2)? The book of Job gives a first-hand look at the way his Job’s friends “comforted” him during his time of trials. He could readily relate to the psalmist when he said, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none: and for comforters, but I found none,” (Psalm 69:20).
Comfort during times of adversity strengthens the soul and fortifies it to carry on. The right words or gestures at the right time help alleviate the suffering one may feel. But there is one way to soothe the hurt one may be experiencing: prayer. Other people reaching beyond themselves, to lift another up before the Lord, make a difference in their fight.
Over and over again, we hear and read the importance of prayer. We know the promises than stand behind its power. We have to have enough faith that God hears the words we utter. Not only hears, but He is ready to step in and act on behalf of those prayers. And, when God steps in, what better consolation can there be?
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everyone experiences ups and downs in life and in ministry; they experience the good with the bad, and Paul is no exception. Though Paul uses this second letter to the Corinthians to defend his ministry and apostleship, he also speaks a great deal of comfort and encouragement.
With that he opens this letter with praise for God. Despite the hardship and circumstances that force him to write this letter, he is never forgetful that God is to be praised and blessed. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable,” (Psalm 145:3).
Readily can he agree with William Murphy’s lyrics to “Praise Is What I DO” when he says:
“I vow to praise You
Through the good and the bad.
I’ll praise You,
Whether happy or sad.
I’ll praise You,” (Lyricsmania.com; also see link for video on our website)
With that he blesses God who is not only the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” but he is also the “Father of mercies.” The other day my husband and I were talking. We received good news that one of our children are soon expecting another bundle of joy. I pointed out to my husband that “this is our family. This is our lineage. This begins with us. Our parents had their time and we are part of that. But now, our family is expanding and branching out. It all starts with us.”
That’s what the word “Father” refers to here. It means where something starts or originates. It’s the source of where something begins. Here, God is the “Father of mercy,” meaning God is compassionate, kind and gracious. Psalm 116:5 states, “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” Ephesians 2:4 assures us, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”
Not only does our above verse reference Him with these wonderful attributes, God is also the “God of all comfort.” You see that word there “all?” It means no matter the situation or circumstance, God is able to console, which means to comfort. I love the promise God laid out in Isaiah 51:12 when He said, “I, even I, am he that comforteth you . . .” God takes responsibility for His people in assuring them that He is there, He cares and sympathizes with their plight.
Because He is He “who comforteth us in all our tribulation,” we are have a special measure of grace and empathy toward our fellow man whom the Apostle Paul told us, “that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.”
Let’s do a little comparison here. God is the Father of “all” comfort. And, we should be able to help others in “any” trouble. The two go hand in hand. It leaves man no excuse when it comes to showing the same compassion on another human being that God shows toward us. In being comforted by God we become comforters of one another.
2 Corinthians 1:5-7 “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And out hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”
When I first came to the Lord and was born-again, I received sage advice from a dear friend. She told me, “It’s not always going to be peaches and cream.” And, boy was she right. This journey, though rewarding, often brings a measure of pain and affliction with it. Jesus once told His disciples, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation . . .,” (John 16:33). He also said, “Remember the word that I said unto you, “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you . . .,” (John 15:20).
With that we see examples of how one can experience the “sufferings of Christ abound in us.” Acts 14:22 lets us know, “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” We will experience times of hardship and trials. We will experience times when we feel that we are the ones in the fiery furnace; when we feel the ordeals of life are just too much for us. But, the same way we can expect to “suffer” we can also expect to receive “comfort.” Paul said, “so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”
Paul knew that no matter he experienced in ministry it was for the benefit of those under his care. Paul went through a lot, not just with the Corinthian Church, but for all the churches he had under his charge. He experienced many hard times in all his missionary journeys of carrying the Gospel throughout the land. As a matter of fact, later in 2 Corinthians, he basically spelled out his sufferings in great detail:
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. “ (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
With that, personally he explains, that no matter what life or ministry finds him in, “it is for your consolation and salvation.” Paul, in Philippians, simply stated, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” (4:11). If one were to really think about it this was the same way Jesus conducted business also. He devoted every step He took to the kingdom of God and to the people that needed to hear His message.
Then Paul goes on to say, “And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” A partaker is someone who simply takes part in; participates in. Paul never denied the opposition one could face, but he also readily explained that there was a time of comfort coming for them. Paul sees something better ahead for them.
“Many are the afflictions if the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all,” (Psalm 34:19). “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee,” (Isaiah 43:2). These are just a few of God’s promise to console and be with His people during times of trouble and trials.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
With phrases such as: “we were pressed out of measure,” “we despaired even of life,” and “we had the sentence of death in ourselves” one can really begin to grasp the severity of Paul’s trials. In each one of these instances he starts by saying, “we,” which means that this was personal for Paul because he was personally going through it.
Many can teach about trust and holding on, but not until one has actually had to go through the hardship that Paul describes here, making him feel that life was over, can they REALLY teach it. As much as we don’t like to hear it, suffering circumstances can become some of the best teachers. Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted as saying, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals,” (Brainyquote.com).
The Apostle Paul was dedicated and not easily swerved from the task of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Though he didn’t stop the work before him the pain he faced was very real. He described it as being “pressed out of measure,” meaning being taken beyond his own ability to endure. The times for him were so hard he said, “that we should not trust in ourselves.”
This is great advice for anyone going through difficult times: do not trust in yourself. When times are hard and discouraging that is the worse time to make a major decision. Rather, Paul stated that his trust was “in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”
Psalm 34:22 tells us, “The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” Jeremiah 39:18 says, “For I will certainly rescue you, and you will not fall by the sword; but you will have your own life as booty, because you have trusted in Me,” declares the LORD,” (NASB). Paul experienced this kind of rescue from God. He accredited God with his deliverance.
And then, he told the saints the part they played in helping him. He said, “Ye also helping together by prayer for us.” They prayed for Paul, God heard those prayers, and it became a great source of help for the Apostle Paul and his ministry. Praying for people can make a difference for people.
In a recent article I wrote titled: “Pray!” it says:
“Prayer is powerful! Prayer is authoritative! And, prayer works!
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7.
NOTHING is out of the scope of God’s reach. The worse world events can be made tame under the hand of a Sovereign God, if He so wills.
Confident prayer that He hears and is able, makes a difference in life’s circumstances. “If we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us,” 1 John 5:14.
You can do something. To some it may seem a trivial thing, but there is real power in prayer. Who knows what you can change when you approach Him with a heart that wants to intercede on behalf of others, (wordforlifesays.com).
And, I stand by those words here. Over and over again, the power of prayer is shown to work effectively is all of life’s circumstances. Jesus said:
“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Luke 11:5-13, NKJV
Keep praying – Never give up!
You and I can make a difference for someone going through a hard time. You and I can make a difference for someone’s ministry. All it takes is prayer. That’s it! And when we do, we provide the ultimate source of consolation for that individual.
Your prayers matter! Your prayers are helpful! Your prayers and necessary!
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Consolation Through Prayer Draw the Scene
How Many Words?: Consolation Through Prayer How Many Words
Below are more Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Prayer Activities for Kids:
“Prayer Chain Craft” (A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take home reminder of different request students can pray for one another about. Example below. Enjoy!)
“Prayer Pocket” from Ehow.com
“Prayer” from Msss (several options to choose from)
“Prayer” from Kids Sunday School (several options to choose from)
“My Prayer Book” from Toddleractivitiesathome.com (This cute prayer book is made in the shape of praying hands – wonderful idea!)
“Prayer Garden” from Two Shades of Pink (Very creative use of paper and popsicle sticks to make a prayer garden!) Mssscrafts also has a printable Flower and Vase that you can use for the same concept. Enjoy!
“The Jelly Bean Prayer” from Church House Collection (Very easy coloring page that also teaches colors. Extra bonus of a treat if you can find real jelly beans this time of year to go with it. Enjoy!)
“How 2 Pray” Coloring Page from Ministry to Children
“Connect the Dots Praying Hands” from Kids Sunday School
“The 5 Ws of Prayer” from Sermons4kids
“God’s Cell Phone” from Sermons4kids
“Prayer Pail” from Lubirdbaby.com (This is a wonderful and easy way to help kids to remember to pray for different family members and situations. Very creative!)
“Prayer Mats” (Students can make their own prayer mats with remnants if carpet or fabric and markers to decorate. Sometimes the local dollar store will have square patches/mats to use. Enjoy!)
“God Can Hear Me” (You’ve got a good, old fashioned game with prayer relevance for today’s lesson. Two cans or cups and long string and you have a wonderful way students can explore their prayer life with God. Enjoy!)
“Prayer Sticks” (Popsicle sticks become inspiration for prayers. Write different prayer request on each sticks and use them as prayer prompts. Visit site for more details. Enjoy!)
“Jesus Pillow Craft” (Decorate a bedtime pillow case in a way that will remind the students to pray for others. Sometimes cheap pillow cases can even be found at your local dollar store. Click here for more details. I would like to try this one with my class. Enjoy!)
“Why Pray?” Object lessons and activities.
“Prayer Jars” (Go to this site and click until you get to slide #4. There you will see this wonderful idea of creating prayers jars titled: “From Me to Jesus” and another one “From Jesus to Me.” I absolutely agree with the sentiments of this site host: how awesome it would be for every Sunday School class to have a row of prayer jars lined up in it. Enjoy!)