Job prays for his misguided friends who criticize him, and God accepts his prayers
The book of Job is dialogue sandwiched between the story’s prelude and epilogue. The prelude, or premise, is that Job will remain devout to God regardless of how Satan might afflict him (Job 1-2). In the epilogue, or conclusion, God repudiates the assertions of Job’s friends, affirms Job, and blesses him twofold (Job 42:7-16).
The intervening verses present chapter-long discourses from Job’s friends and Job’s equally long rebuttals. Then God speaks (Job 40:6-41:34). The story could end there, with God having the final word.
Instead God deals with our story’s main characters, too. He’s mad at three of Job’s friends, his primary detractors. (The fourth friend escapes mention, receiving neither criticism nor affirmation.) God instructs the trio to offer a sacrifice in Job’s presence. Then Job will pray for them. When he does, God will accept Job’s intersession for these men and not punish them, as they deserve (Job 42:7-9).
Notice that God does not command Job to pray. What if Job decides he won’t intercede for his friends? After how they’ve failed to support him, he would be justified in snubbing them and letting God deal with them as they deserve. Yet God knows Job. He knows Job’s heart. He knows Job will pray for these men even though they let him down.
And God says he will accept Job’s prayer.
Before Job even utters the words, God decides to honor what his follower will pray. What an affirmation of Job’s godly character and God’s esteem for him.
Imagine God saying that about you or me. Knowing our overall character, he acknowledges he will answer our prayers before we say one word.
May our relationship with God be like Job’s, with hearts so attuned to God that he will say “yes” before we even say “please.”
If you have friends like Job’s, how can you pray for them? What do you think God’s attitude is towards your prayers? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.