According to the dictionary, “to Petition” means to beg, pray, request, solicit, plead, or ask for something from someone in authority. There are times when we find ourselves praying, or petitioning, for others: our family, friends, co-workers or those in our faith community. The issues before us are many and varied, from health concerns, to financial issues, to children in trouble, or a crisis of faith. One of the first prayers such as this recoded in the scriptures was that of the patriarch Abraham when he pleaded on behalf of his nephew Lot and his family living in the city of Sodom, a city God was going to destroy due to wickedness.
Grenz describes petition as “laying hold of and releasing God’s willingness and ability to act in accordance with God’s will and purpose on behalf of creation that God loves”. Throughout the New Testament we see that faith brings results. When Jesus went to his hometown and began to teach and preach in the synagogue the people were amazed. However, they dismissed him as the ‘carpenter’s son’ and refused to see that the wisdom revealed through his teaching and the miracles he performed were evidence of his deity. As a result “he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith”. (Matt 13:58) Petition involves prayer and faith.
There a numerous examples in the Bible of this type of prayer. Moses pleaded with God to show mercy after the children of Israel worshipped the golden calf, and the bible records that “the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened” (Exodus 32:14). The early church prayed for Peter while he was in prison and they were quite surprised when his release occurred (Acts 12). Would Peter’s freedom from prison have occurred without the prayers of this faith community? We don’t know for sure, but Luke apparently saw a connection between these two events since he included the record of the petitionary prayers in his account of this miracle.
Today…Plead for God to intervene in a situation you or someone you know is facing. The apostle Paul wrote: “The Lord is near; have no anxiety, but in everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, which is beyond our utmost understanding, will keep guard over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)