We start reading 2 Corinthians today: the first chapter needs to be read slowly and carefully. Paul shows the value of prayers in all the difficulties they are experiencing. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, so, through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too” (1:5). It is, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction …” (verses 3,4). This is a comfort we have a responsibility to pass on to others.

Let us reflect on our own personal experiences. The more we have been active in the service of Christ, the more clearly we will perceive this. In Paul, the Corinthians saw an outstanding example of service. “The afflictions we experienced”, writes Paul, was such that “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (verse 8). But Paul then came to realize, “that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God …” (verse 9).

“On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (verse 10). Then Paul makes an appeal that we should take note of; “You also must help us by prayer so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us by the prayers of many” (verse 11).

Today there is instant communication via the internet and we become aware of many desperate situations. Let us help them by prayer. Also, may we, as Paul writes in chapter 2, spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved …” (verses 14,15). The world becoming ever more evil, and the darkness deeper, so the light should be even more evident!

It is a tragedy that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel …” (4:4). But, what a wondrous blessing we have that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (verse 6). That ‘light’ shone physically as creation began so long ago, but the wondrous fact for us is, as we will read in chapter 5, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (verse 17). May all those who are part of that “new creation” help one another by prayer.