Praying for Others
By Jim Allen
Here's one you've might never have heard. At the beginning of a Bible study the moderator (John) asked for prayer requests and praise reports. Doug, an elderly gentleman sitting in the back row, spoke up and said he had both a prayer request and praise report. Curious to learn more John asked Doug to share his prayer request first.
Doug said the doctor diagnosed him with macular degeneration of both eyes resulting in partial blindness. Doug went on to explain he couldn't see objects directly in front of him but could see some things. John said the class would pray for his healing but then asked, "What's the praise report?" Doug, sensing self-assuredness and with a smirk replied, "I still have my driver's license."
It's a true story. I had the pleasure to hear John and Doug recall their treasured memory. Even so, I sometimes wonder if asking others to pray will sway the will of God. Is it really necessary to invite others to join in praying with you? Wouldn't a personal prayer do as well? After all, God answers all prayers according to His will (1 John 5:14).
At the end of the Bible study a gentleman stood up and asked the entire class to pray for his nephew who was leaving on a trip to India. We did. But, was it necessary? If joining with him in prayer made the man feel better, then I'm all in. But when is group prayer necessary and does it really make a difference? People travel the world over and nearly everyone arrives safely without any prayers to protect them along the way.
A lot has been written about prayer and it's clear that it's foundational to one's faith. Jesus emphasizes the importance of determined prayer in the Parable of the Persistent Widow. The widow's faith drove her daily to the door of the judge because she believed he would grant protection from her adversary (Luke 18:1-8).
This parable nudges up to Matthew 6:33 that talks about the importance of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The promise is God will give us the desires of our heart when we seek Him. What are those desires? The first is the desire to love God followed by loving people (Mark 12:30-31); and then what follow would be the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).
The man requesting prayer for his nephew was demonstrating faith. His affection for the nephew drove him to seek God for divine protection. This man believed God could provide his nephew safe passage when no one and nothing else could. This man struck me as a man who love God and prayed often.
Jesus prayed all the time. His day began and ended in prayer. It must have been easier for Jesus to pray than walk. Jesus' entire life was a prayer lived out among men for the good of men. Every thought, word, and deed was a prayer to the Father for the benefit of those who would believe on Him (Matthew 6:9-13).
Likewise, praying is natural. It's what we do. It's who we are in Christ. No matter our stand and situation in life, prayer from the heart is like a homing pigeon winging its way back home with a message. Prayer is faith outflowing from the heart. Prayer releases the incense of praise and thankfulness. Prayer is the sweet aroma of faith rising from living temples to the Throne Room of God (Psalm 141:2).
But will the prayer request for his nephew's safe journey be beneficial to all who join in the prayer? Yes, it will be beneficial and in more ways than one might imagine.
o First, the gentleman went home after we prayed reassured God would provide safe travel for his nephew (1 John 5:14). How many times have we prayed the same for family and friends? Prayer is always reassuring when we pray in faith (Matthew 7:7; 22-21).
o Second, to pray with another is faithfulness to the Apostle Paul's admonition for believes to pray about everything with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
o Third, prayer is fellowship with the Father. Jesus walked among the brokenness of humanity, grieved by it all and saddened by the sorry state of everything. He saw the rich and the poor and heard groans and unholy whispers. Everywhere he went the difficulty of the day and way of things pierced the sanctity of His heart. Having endured long, Jesus withdrew to find peace in the presence of the Father, and prayed. We can do no less.
o And lastly, prayer is an occasion to share one's inner most thoughts and desires with our Savior (Psalm 23). Though our prayer life may at times seem lacking, it's all we have to call home when life seems overwhelming and we lose our way. Prayer is a direct line to heaven. There is never a busy single and no one is ever put on hold. (Psalm 95:2). I like that about prayer.
In closing, you can see why prayer is always uplifting. It's how the soul breathes the reality of the invisible. So, it was right to pray for the man's nephew. It may have seemed trivial to some but it was right because it was important to him and that's important to God. And it was right because those who sincerely joined with him in prayer prospered in ways unimaginable.
Prayer is powerful because faith moves the hand of God. Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24). Pray, believe, and receive!
Note: The most important prayer for those whom we pray is to know they will be found in Christ (Philippians 3:9). Then regardless of where they travel in life their journey will end well.
Image Credit: George Fox Evangelical School; "small group prayer"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Personal-Relationships
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