The Help of Prayer- 2Corinthians 1:11

As we return to our examination of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, we find next an identification from Paul as to how the believers in Corinth may be able to help “deliver him from such a deadly peril”. Verse 11 begins as follows in the NIV: “as you help us by your prayers”. We will now take a closer look at this to discover just what Paul is communicating here, and how it may apply to the lives of believers today. This verse reads literally in the Greek as “you also helping us by your prayers”. What is of interest here first is Paul’s use of a participle here. Participles have no mood in the Greek, so this does not function as a command or request, but as an assumption. Paul here assumes that the believers will be praying for him, counting upon their help in dealing with his “deadly peril”. Part of God’s means of delivering Paul from this peril is through the prayers of those who love Paul, so even those who may be thousands of miles away are still able to help their fellow believers in the midst of their struggles through prayer. The next thing of interest here is Paul’s usage of the Greek sunupourgeo here for “help”. This is a compound word in the Greek which is found only here in the New Testament. It is comprised of three Greek words combined into one word, which carries with it the concepts implied in all three. The first of these is what would be referred to as the “root”, to which the other words have been added. The root here is ergon, the Greek word translated primarily as “work”. The first word added as a prefix is “sun”, primarily translated as “with”, and the second is hupo, primarily translated as “under”. So this word in its entirety fundamentally means to “work with and under another”. So the fundamental idea expressed here in this term is to work, and the prefixes add the concepts of working with and under someone else. To work with someone basically means to aid them in their endeavor, and to work under them here means to support them in said endeavor. So what Paul does here in the use of this term is tell us that we are able to aid and support others in their God-given endeavors through prayer. The Greek word used for prayer here is deesis, literally to entreat or request. What is in mind here is not a general “bless them in their endeavors”, but a specific request dealing with a specific situation, meaning we should be familiar enough with the struggles of others to be able to make specific requests dealing with specific situations. This, then, admonishes us to share our burdens with one another (as Paul does here), that we may aid and support our brothers and sisters in the midst of their struggles through prayer. So what we will ultimately conclude in all of this is that it is the responsibility of all believers to help one another with and in our struggles, and the primary way of doing so is through prayer, but not merely a bless them Lord kind of prayer but a specific prayer making a specific request in response to a specific situation.

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