So often when we pray for ourselves or for others, we are concerned about certain specific things that are happening in the present moment of our life or their life. This is okay, because sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by a situation or weakness in our life, that we want immediate help. We fall on our faces or knees and plead for help in this particular situation or with this particular weakness, but never see the whole picture. That’s because we are human, after all. We often can’t see past the present moment. We want to put patches on what is torn or broken. We feel the pain right now, we experience the embarrassment of a sin and hope no one else notices, or we share in part with another in their present experience. All of that is well and good as we plead for ourselves and intercede for others. But then a new day comes, laced with all the same trials, tribulations, and temptations of life all over again and we look for another patch.
That was the life of a priest before the time of Christ. Before a priest could do his job of offering up sacrifices for the sins of others, he first had to take care of his own personal business—his own sins, his own cares, his own violations. So, each day, as he lit the fire to begin his godly work, he took inventory of the sins of his people and his own sins (Hebrews 7: 27). Day after day, moment by moment, his mind raced with all these shortcomings. His job was difficult and exhausting.
Then Christ came and became the high priest, and He holds this position permanently and forever (Hebrews 7:24). He was after-all, “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7: 26). Not only that but “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27). The daily grind of fire building, killing a sacrifice, inner-searching, and finally offering up prayers ended. Jesus paid it all.
That does not mean we do not pray for others or ourselves. Indeed Peter says that we are to be “a royal priesthood” (I Pet 2:9), meaning we are to pray for others. But unless and until we accept without question and wholly the atonement of Jesus in our lives, the daily grind of being a priest will continue for us. We will never get out of that cycle of embarrassment, regret, remorse and the need to pray for that “daily patch” to cover our sins along with the sins of those for whom we pray.
Jesus lives to make intersession for us (Hebrews 7:25), He prays for us continually. It is because of His intercession that we can do our work of intercession for others. It is all possible because Jesus has saved us to the uttermost. No daily patch needed. Jesus saves us totally and at all times. Once we believe this as a little child of God, and we draw near to God through Him, He is able to save us to the uttermost! (Hebrews 7: 25). Then, with full assurance of our own atonement, we can put our full energy into praying for others which is our greatest work.