Today’s word is one I struggle with: Prayer.
I struggle with it because I get so wrapped up in my life and problems,
zooming from one chore to another.
Lord, teach me to pray. Amen.
Reading this story (again) reminded me of the importance of prayer.
Pray One for Another
“. . .And pray one for another.” (James 5:16)
The power of prayer is strong.
The more I learn, the more I believe the awesome power of God is unleashed when we pray.
Over and over, I’ve seen God do what can only be described as miracles in the lives of people—whether at the camp, through our church, or in the event of our everyday lives. Some folks would call these events, “coincidences,” but I’m convinced it’s due to God’s people praying diligently that He acts in such unique ways.
A big part of our prayer life should be what is called intercessory prayer. Very simply, intercessory prayer is praying to God for people and their needs.
Formerly, I was often guilty of making this statement to folks experiencing tragedy, tough times, or trials, “Well, all I can do is pray for you.”
I’ve since learned that the greatest thing we can do is pray. This wonderful quote from Henri
This wonderful quote from Henri Noewen says it much better than I ever could:
“There is nothing we can do better than praying by name to God for others.
Nothing unleashes the power of God like the prayer of His people.”
Or as Christian writer, S. D. Gordon, shares, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time to pray.
One of my favorite stories concerning prayer is told by Della Mercer, who faithfully taught the preschoolers at our church for years. Once at the end of a lesson on prayer, she wanted to finish the lesson by having the children pray. Della stated to the five-year-old class, who were sitting in a circle, “Now, we are going to go around the circle and pray for each other.”
Once at the end of a lesson on prayer, she wanted to finish the lesson by having the children pray. Della stated to the five-year-old class sitting in a circle, “Now, we are going to go around the circle and pray for each other.”
Her plan was to let the child on her right begin and allow each child around the circle to utter a short “sentence prayer.”
The first child to her right was Charlie Taylor. Instead of sitting in his chair and saying a short prayer, he got up and began going to each child seated in the circle. As he would put his hand on their shoulder, he then prayed with, and for, each child.
As Della watched in amusement, Charlie “went around the circle” praying for each one by name. Della said it was the most beautiful illustration of caring and praying she’d ever seen. Charlie physically did what we should be doing: going to others, showing them we care by putting a hand on their shoulder, and praying with them.
God has taught me, and is continuing to teach me, a great deal about this. So often folks come to us and say, “Will you pray for me about something?” As they share their burden, we promise to pray for them. However, if we aren’t careful, in the midst of our busy lives, we tend to forget about them and their problem or needs.
God has convicted me about this. What I am learning to do is to simply stop right there and pray with them. This ministers to them, and God always honors heart-felt prayer.
I’ll never forget meeting a Dry Creek neighbor in front of the Post Office. As we made small talk, this rough-edged man who seemingly had no room for God in his life, began sharing the heartache he’d recently experienced with a rebellious teenage daughter. His hardened, weathered face showed the pain he was dealing with. The windows to the soul, his eyes, were filled with tears. I did the only thing I knew to do, I said, “Do you mind if we just pray together right here?”
He said, “I wish you would.” So there in the Post Office parking lot, as people came and went, we stood beside his beat–up, old truck and prayed. He wept openly and even my voice was choked. I’ll never forget the look on his tear-streaked face when we finished. He simply said, “Thank you so much,” and slowly got in his truck.
He simply said, “Thank you so much,” and slowly got in his truck.
That parking lot encounter was the beginning of my journey praying with people. It really doesn’t matter the location, or even if we are on the phone, or when it is, God both hears and honors prayer.
My challenge to myself, and to you, is to let God use you as an active intercessory “pray-er.” Hurting people are always waiting to know someone cares. They are waiting to hear the good news that God loves them and can forgive them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
And the fire for God that is waiting to begin burning in their hearts can be lit by a single “match” of intercessory prayer from you. Let’s follow Charlie Taylor’s example by getting up, going to others, showing them we care, and most importantly—praying with, and for, them. . . .
“. . . and pray one for another (James 5:16).
P.S. About twenty years after this story, I helped with the funeral of Charlie Taylor. I told this story to his family and friends.
This morning I encountered a desk worker whose mother has been placed on hospice. I felt led of the Lord to pray with her. She seemed surpised at this.
It was a privilege.
Lord, help me to be sensitive to pray for folks as I make my journey today.