In the midst of monumental loss and pain, Job was visited by his friends. Job needed his friends to correctly point him to the Lord and encourage him. Sadly they did neither. In the end God restored Job and even restored Job’s friends.
What happened to turn these friends away from their error? Perhaps we can learn so that we become witnesses who see our own errant friends restored to the Lord.
In Job 42 the Lord expresses his anger toward these friends. Here is the key passage for us to consider.
My servant Job shall pray for you,
for I will accept his prayer
not to deal with you according to your folly.
— Job 42:8
Here are some takeaways that will enable us to be effectual in our prayers for our errant friends.
1. Be a Servant of the Lord
Four times in this 42nd chapter, God refers to Job as his servant. This was not a position Job held only after encountering God in a mighty way at the end of the book. In the first two chapters, Satan appears before the Lord on two occasions. Both times God asked Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?”
Although Job was a master over his family and over many servants and much wealth, he was preeminently a servant of the Lord. To pray effectually to the Lord, we must place ourselves in that same position of being the Lord’s servant.
2. Find Some Friends
When Job’s tribulations began, his three friends journeyed to be with him so as to “show him sympathy and comfort him (Job 2:11).” We are not told how these friendships began. But we do know these three men feared the Lord and had a relationship with Job.
3. Assume the Position of an Intercessor
Since Job had a relationship with the Lord and relationships with his friends, he was in a position between the Lord and his friends when they erred. That is the position of an intercessor. It is somebody in between the two parties.
In this case God was angry with the three friends. He would restore these men through the intercessory prayer of Job.
4. Make Intercession a Regular Part of Life
Job was no stranger to praying and sacrificing for others. When we are first introduced to Job in chapter one, we are told that Job was a continual intercessor for his children.
After his children’s celebrations, Job would make sacrifice for them to the Lord praying, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts (Job 1:5).”
5. Listen for the Prompting of God
Job knew to pray for his friends because he heard the Lord expressing his anger towards his friends. He also heard the Lord express his desire to restore them from their errant ways.
If we make ourselves available in the presence of God as a servant would do to his king, we will hear the words of the Lord which prompt us to pray for our friends.
6. Join your Friends in Gospel Participation
Job’s friends were instructed to bring animal sacrifices to Job as an atonement for their sin. Today we find atonement for ourselves and our friends in the gospel. The Lord Jesus has sacrificed his body and shed his blood as the payment for our sin. Make sure your friends know that they will be right with the Lord only by being clothed in Christ’s righteousness and having had their sins placed upon him.
7. Accept your Friends Confession
Job’s friends had sinned against the Lord, but they had also sinned against Job. Their theology was awry. With this faulty theology, they misrepresented God and they added burdens upon an already taxed Job. But when God spoke, they repented. Job accepted that and did not let a grudge fester.
You will find it difficult to pray for those with whom you have a grudge. You will become bitter. When you find yourself in this position, your prayers will reflect it. If you are honestly praying what is in your heart, you will not be praying for their restoration. You will end up praying that they get what they deserve.
8. God may Use Your Intercession as His Means of Grace
The paragraph in Job 42 ends with “and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer (42:9).” Prayer is one of the means by which God pours out his grace. Perhaps he will pour grace out upon you and your friends. Pray that it be so.