I know so many people who need prayer right now. Actually that is not really anything new. There are always people we know who are going through things. I'm thinking of a friend who has cancer right now. It looks like they caught it early and the surgery went well. Praise the Lord. But she was saying the constant doctor appointments and piles of information and decision making that is heaped on her right now is just wearing her down. Another friend who had a surgery to repair something she has struggled with for years, just found out the surgery did not work. Hope raised. Hope dashed. Another friend who had a huge loss and is having trouble moving on; being stuck in the grief is affecting other relationships and I watch the domino effect in all of their lives. Another person is estranged from their only daughter.
I was on a three person text this morning. We were discussing a future event and some issues that have arisen with regards to it. The one woman said she really can't handle this right now. She proceeded to tell us what is going on in her life. She is caregiver for her dad and has to travel quite a distance to help with him. He has lost 50 pounds recently and is suffering. Her daughter has many ruptured discs in her back and she should be helping more with her grandchildren. She had a house renovation gone terribly wrong with leaks and drywall cut out. You get the gist. Everything is happening at once. You could hear she was on the verge of a meltdown.
I shared with her my experience of being a caregiver for my aunt. (She Lingered On) It is hard to be a caregiver. But each experience, each situation, each moment, each breath has a purpose. I believe that it does.
I believe in prayer. I told this woman I would pray for her and I would ask my group to pray for her and that I knew they would. I told her she would feel the comfort of our prayers in all of her situations. That is a pretty bold statement. But I know it is true. I know from experience.
We have had our group covenants for years - probably at least fifteen years. We abide by them. One of the items is:
"I agree to regularly pray for and encourage all other members of the group."
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We do this by having a prayer diary. Each meeting we ask for prayer requests and praise reports. Writing them down and keeping them in our Bible reminds us to actually pray for the things requested. We aren't just praying for each other - we are praying for others we know outside the group. Our children have no idea how much they have been prayed over! We have prayed for each other's jobs, financial situations, addictions, marriages, relationships, anything and everything to do with our lives. We have experienced His comfort in just knowing the situation is being prayed over and in knowing He is sovereign; He is in control. It gives tangible peace to pray. And we have seen God work in our lives in miraculous ways! Hence the need for a praise report section of our Prayer Diary. Smile.
I believe He hears every prayer.
I believe He acts on our prayers. That doesn't mean we necessarily get what we are praying for. Sometimes His answer is no, He has something else planned. Sometimes the answer is not yet, in His time. Sometimes He answers yes.
Praying for others changes us. It is relationship with God. It is dependence on Him. We cannot control cancer. We can't fix hopeless broken relationships. So much of life is out of our control. But it is not out of His control. And the process of giving it to Him strengthens this intimate relationship, shows our dependence, gives Him glory with our trust.
Praying for others changes their situation. God hears our prayers. He acts on our prayers. The circumstances change. We don't have to see it to know it has. We just inherently know He has it all under His control. Maybe the circumstances don't change the way we think they they should and that is where our faith comes in. We are sure others' lives are better when we pray for them.
I pray about everything. The large problems. The minute things. I pray for others I know who are suffering or for their situation. I pray for the health of an unborn child. I pray for someone to come to know the Lord. I pray as I'm driving or doing housework or when I crawl in bed. But I am reminded today when I told that woman that I would pray for her that my prayer life is greatly lacking. See I'm all about Bible study. I will spend hours pouring over Scripture to prepare to lead a discussion or class. But my prayer life is short and on the run. I often fall asleep praying. I don't give prayer my undivided attention and real time in each day.
It is no coincidence I am studying Luke right now where the key word of Luke's gospel is prayer. Luke gives us nine instances where Jesus prayed to His Father. Seven of them are unique to the Gospel of Luke. God speaks to me through His Word. As I study the examples of Jesus praying I will be convicted of my spotty prayer life and I will want to be more like Him.
I have told my friend that my group will pray for her. And I know they will. They are awesome pray-ers - much more so then I am. But I am reminded that I have promised her I will pray and I must follow through on that promise if I am to please my Lord. I can't be a slacker. I can't lift up short quick air prayers. It is the time spent in real prayer that makes all the difference to her and to me.
Sometimes people don't want prayer. Someone close to me had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I found out a significant time later. My first thought was why did they wait so long to let others know? We could have been praying for them from the very get go. But sometimes people don't believe in the power of prayer or they don't want people knowing their business. You can tell though when people are struggling with something. You don't have to know the specifics. God does. Just lift them in prayer. Quietly. And you don't even have to let them know you are praying for them if that would make them uncomfortable. They will feel your prayers anyways. God will act on them no matter what.
Prayer changes the world. It has great power.
Pray for others. Be purposeful about it.