Working With God Through Intercessory Prayer
By D. Edmond Hiebert
: Bob Jones University
Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
6.2 (Fall 1995) : 250-252
Hiebert left a legacy of evangelical usefulness when he passed more fully into the presence of God at his death in 1995. Since 1955 he had been Professor of New Testament at the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California. Several commentaries had come from him (Mark, Thessalonian Epistles, Pastorals, James, First Peter, Second Peter and Jude). This book on prayer originally appeared in 1987. Many evangelicals find his works well researched with articulate exposition.
Here are ten well-organized and expository chapters, some of which deal with working by prayer, the power of prayer, empowerment through intercession, and learning to pray from Daniel. It is extraordinary to find eight pages on "The Prayer of Jabez" dealing with two verses (1 Chr 4:9-10). The verses chronicle the effectiveness of specific prayer. More than ten pages discuss "Epaphras, Man of Prayer." Scripture and subject indexes help locate comments. Hiebert's book shows judicious use of works on individual texts, commentaries, and topical books (cf. "Bibliography," 115-20). He maturely pulls key facets of effective prayer into the discussion. The book can greatly help one cultivate a regular vigil of prayer under the tutelage of God’s Word.
Hiebert's main focus is on the intercessory emphasis in prayer. He sees prayer in general as "God's gracious arrangement whereby His saints are privileged to work together with Him in furthering His sovereign purpose." He adds, "It is the most noble and most essential ministry God gives to His children—but is the most neglected" (Preface).
Chapters 2-4 expound key NT texts on intercession. Chapters 5-7 discuss three men of prayer. Many texts receive either brief or lengthy exposition: e.g., Exod 17:8-16; 1 Chr 4:9-10; Isa 59:15-16; Ezek 22:30-31; Dan 9:3-4; Matt 9:37-38; Luke 11:9-13; John 14:12-13; Acts 6:4; 12:5, 17; Eph 6:18-19; Col 4:3-4; 2 Thess 3:1-2; 1 Tim 2:1-4. A number of others also receive mention. Hiebert expounds passages phrase by phrase.
Frequent illustrations and poems on prayer spice the discussions. For example, the evangelism of R. A. Torrey in various countries was the result of long Saturday night prayer surges (11).
The book specializes in the one aspect of prayer, intercession, but incorporates many details in other areas. A Christian can profit from what is emphasized, but a caution is healthy. To avoid being spiritually unbalanced in prayer and to be properly balanced, one needs to cultivate a blend and balance in all aspects of prayer. Aggressiveness is imperative in more than just intercession, or any other single aspect of prayer (praise, thanks, confession, petition for one's own needs, etc.). Scripture shows the need to saturate prayer with a correlation of all these elements, and even other aspects such as affirmation of truth ("Lord, I love you"; or "Lord, I know you love me"). A daily interweaving and growing in all areas enhances a prayer life in accord with the will of God as reflected in the Word of God.
The intercessory part of prayer in this book is well-developed. The work can be a significant help to teachers, pastors, and anyone in Christian service.