Praying for others sounds really good. But how often do we practice it? I’m like many who say “I’ll pray for you,” fully intending to do so in practice, but rarely in reality. I don’t avoid praying for others, I’m simply unable to remember them all. One of the hallmarks of Paul’s letters in the Bible is his praying for those he was writing to (Romans 1:8-15, 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, Ephesians 1:16-23, Philippians 1:3-11, Colossians 1:3-8, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 2 Timothy 1:3-5. Philemon 4-7). Within several of these letters, Paul asks for prayers for himself and others in the ministry. I believe we’re called to pray for each other.
Intercessory prayer is a powerful instrument in the body of believers. Because of Jesus’ gift to us, we’re no longer dependant on others to intercede. We can go directly to the Triune God, grasp the ‘horns’ of the altar, and make our requests known (Philippians 4:6). We have the avenue of prayer available, God’s readiness to hear our prayers, and willingness to answer. All we really need to do is pray.
My prayer practice has gone from trying to remember to relying on the Holy Spirit. There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night, and have no idea why. So, I ask for names from the Spirit, and I pray. Other times, someone’s name comes to mind, and I pray. Recently, a great friend of mine’s name came to mind, and I immediately prayed for him. I texted what I’d just done, and his reply to me was it was what he needed when he needed it. Was that me? Absolutely not. It was the Spirit telling me the name of a brother in need.
Leaning on the Spirit isn’t being lazy: it’s being available. Being available means we’re able to pray when we might forget. Being available means we’re in a posture of prayer. This doesn’t mean we’re kneeling all the time, or eyes are closed and head bowed (dangerous to do when driving). It means I’m available. As you think about prayer and praying for others, open yourself up to the Spirit, making yourself available to pray for whomever is needy. And be ready.
By Rich Obrecht