Maybe this has happened to you. The Lord lays someone on your heart, and you’re like, where did they come from? But the Lord persists, so you call them up and they tell you they had just asked God to send someone to help them. Think about it…by being obedient, you have become an instrument in God’s hand to answer that person’s prayer. That’s because there’s nothing as sweet as hearing someone say, “I prayed for you today.” So when God brings someone to mind, pray with gratitude and gladness for them…but follow it up with a phone call in order that you may encourage and uplift their spirit with the simple words, “I remembered you in my prayers today.”
You may know them as Prayer Chains, or a Prayer Wall where requests and concerns are brought so that many can lift them to God…or maybe you’re part of a Prayer Warrior Group that regularly unite in focused prayer on behalf of others. Here Paul is thanking Believers for their continued prayers, telling them that he knows their prayers have rescued him from many dangers. He looks at these answered prayers of God’s grace in his life with hope and gratefulness…knowing those praying for him are praising God also. For the beauty of answered prayers is that they touch everyone….those who pray and those who were prayed for.
Your prayer life…is it good, bad, or non-existent? What about the quality and quantity of your time spent in prayer? We all would admit that our prayer life could be better. For most of our prayers are quick apathetic words thrown at God, lacking energy and even the confidence that they’ll even be answered. So how can we change our weak and impotent prayers into the prayers spoken about in this verse? James tells us that as Believers our prayers are capable of producing great results, and through God, He is able to accomplish incredible feats because of our prayers. So think of it this way…our prayers start God (and all of creation He has at His disposal) moving. Our simple prayers trigger God’s all powerful and magnificent response… opening the way for Him to do miraculous things on our behalf. That puts a completely different spin on our prayers, right? For if we could only take hold of and comprehend just how powerful and effective our prayers were…we could change the world for Christ.
Jesus taught by example. And over the course of His ministry here on earth, He modeled for the disciples not only the power of prayer…but the necessity for constancy, and steadfastness in the process. Prayer wasn’t an after thought for Jesus…it was the main thought. Nor was it the last thing He did after everything else had failed, it was the very first thing. So after Jesus had ascended into heaven and the disciples were alone and scared, they relied on the discipline of prayer Jesus had shown them to face the uncertain world ahead. The early Church was devoted to prayer…the Church of today should be as devoted.
Sometimes our prayers sound more like a toddler in a toy store…”I want that, and that, and that, and Oh, that!” God willingly listens to all our wishes and desires, but only He knows what we really need. And sometimes what we want and what we need are very far apart. So just remember, God understands and loves you far more than you can ever imagine…that only He can see “around the corner” of the future…and that He has only your best interest at heart. God may not give you everything you want, but He will give you everything you need.
These verses remind me of the old Hymn, “What a Friend I have in Jesus.” When our burdens are too heavy to bear…our friend Jesus is there, ready to take those burdens and offer support and comfort. When pain and sorrow fills our body…our friend Jesus is there at the right hand of God interceding, and pleading on our behalf. Yes, if we think about it, there really is no better friend than Jesus.
We’ve all been there. That deep moan of grief or pain escapes our lips…but that’s all. No words are spoken…because there are no words. Our mind is a confusing jumble of our frail mortal condition. That’s when the Holy Spirit can express for us the unutterable, inexpressible words we can’t find. And that’s when the Holy Spirit can step in and make intercession for us according to the Will of God. (Romans 8:27) The indwelling Holy Spirit is always there to pray…when we can’t.
I’ll admit, most of my prayers are very selfish and self-centered, and begin with “I”. But what the Lord is trying to teach us here… is that regardless of how Job viewed his own personal crisis…it was only after he had prayed for his friends that God moved. The ministry of intercessory prayer takes the I and Me out of our prayers and replaces it with our friend’s names. Intercession is so wonderfully described in Ezekiel 22:30, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap…” When you intercede for a friend in prayer, you are standing in the breach of their broken down life…a life split open by divorce, torn apart by job loss, or ripped asunder by cancer. By standing in that gap of their wall of life…you make their wall whole and complete again. When the Holy Spirit lays someone on your mind…respond immediately and pray for that person…stand in the gap of their life’s wall. For you may never know how crucial your intercessory prayer was for them at that moment.