Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 13

A prayer for God’s people

Hebrews 13:21

Christians pray for each other, and not just for themselves. The author has requested prayer from his readers (Hebrews 13:18-19), and now he himself prays for them.

In the first part of his prayer, he called Jesus ‘the great shepherd of the sheep’ (Hebrews 13:20). A shepherd looks after his sheep and, in the same manner, Jesus takes care of God’s people. In this second part of the prayer, the author asks God to provide for his readers and to guide them. He trusts God to do these things by means of Jesus, the ‘great shepherd’.

The author asks God to provide every good thing for his readers. It is right to ask God for this. James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from him. The author does not request these gifts so that people can satisfy their own desires. Like a father, God teaches his people to do the things that please him (Hebrews 12:5-11). And that is the purpose of the good things that the author requests in his prayer.

Then the author asks God to do good things in the lives of his readers. They need to develop as Christians. Their relationship with God needs to become more mature. God is adopting them as his sons and daughters. So they must be sons and daughters who please God, their Father. Mere human effort cannot achieve this. They will please God because of the things that God is doing in their lives.

This is a prayer in the name of Jesus. That is, the author mentions Jesus’ name as the reason for his prayer. In the ancient world, people did not like to request things from important people merely for their own benefit. So they would say that the request would benefit someone else. For example, someone might want the king to help him. So that person may say, ‘The king’s son will receive great honour if the king carries out my request.’ Because the king cares about his son, he would want his son to receive honour. An ancient king might carry out such a request even if there was no real connection with his son. Afterwards, the person who made the request would tell everyone about it. And that is how the king’s son would receive honour.

But the author is not using Jesus’ name merely to get attention for his request, as in the above example. The author is asking God to do these things because of Jesus. The author wants God to do these things by means of Jesus. And the author has Jesus’ authority to use his name in prayer, as all Christians do (John 14:13-14).

Next part: How we should read the Bible (Hebrews 13:22)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.