SIMPLE TRUTH: Helping others by praying

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

By Charles Christmas

There is a large emphasis in our Bible on helping others and being helped by others through praying. I will lift up a few of these passages. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, the Apostle Paul in writing to a congregation, detailed for them the painful and unbearable pressures in Asia when he and his team thought their perils would climax in their death. He reported that the Lord delivered them, and that he would continue to deliver “as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on your behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” Paul wrote to another congregation from a prison in Rome where he was in chains: “I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” (Philippians 1:19) In his letter to the true believers in Rome, the Apostle made this plea: “I urge you brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Romans 16:30) Then he listed definite prayer requests. In a letter to another congregation he urged them to become involved in prayer “for all true believers everywhere and for me that I might fearlessly make the Gospel known to others.” (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Samuel, the leader, prophet and judge of Israel, underscored our responsibility for intercessory prayer for others by these words: “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.”

Jesus was and is an example for us concerning helping others through intercessory prayer. He said to Simon Peter, “Satan has desired you that he might sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” The prayer of Jesus which included me and all true believers is recorded as the 17th chapter of John’s gospel. Wonderful! Jesus desired to help you and me through prayer long ago. He desires to help us this very day, and every day, through his prayer ministry. The Bible says “He ever lives to make intercession for us.”

What did it cost Jesus to pray for us? He had to renounce the glorious riches of heaven and become a humble servant in human flesh, subject to all the temptations and testings which are ours, yet without sin. By this he understands our every need, and is able to sympathize with each of us. He had to willingly bear our own sins in his own body on the cross and rise from the dead. Such was the cost Jesus had to pay in order to faithfully pray for us then and now.

It will cost to help others by praying. But Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Since love is action, he was saying, “As I have paid the price to pray for you, then you likewise pay a price to pray for one another.”

We can help others through praying. God only knows the multiplied thousands of ways persons have been helped in our area in response to the prayers of many. There are prayer chains, church prayer lists, individual prayer lists and commitments to pray for others all over our county and area. Most of these intercessory prayers are concerned with health restoration relating to the human body, mind and emotions. This is good. God is certainly concerned about such infirmities, and we all may know of some wonderful healings and restorations. We certainly should never stop this kind of concerned praying. But the intercessory praying of our Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul and Samuel had to do far more with the spiritual growth, awakening and obedience of God’s people. It was far more about God’s people being transformed into what God wanted them to be and into what they had never been. It was far more about asking for the works of the Holy Spirit being manifest in their daily lives.

As you read this column today I will be in the latter half of an 11-day mission trip. I am absolutely certain that there are several persons who are “helping me by praying for me.” I desire to be able to report “the gracious favor granted me in answer to the prayers of many.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.