The Importance of Praying for Others

The Importance of Praying for Others

Prayer is the lifeblood of a Christian life, it sustains our walk with Jesus. While every Christian has his unique prayer lifestyle, prayers differ in quality from one another depending on the depth of our personal relationship with Jesus. However, without particularity, if we consistently soak into deeper experiences of a sincere prayerful life, the Holy Spirit not only empowers us in our prayers but in our whole Christian life. Through our earnest and unceasing prayers, we unleash tons of endless adoration, confessions, thanksgiving and supplications.

When praying becomes a mere recitation and not devotion, we are most-likely inclined to pray wholly for our own self. If we can only playback our prayers and listen, many among us will hear a parrot in our self with the first person pronouns “I,” “me,” “mine” and “my.”

Apparently, there is really nothing wrong in praying for oneself because in fact, the Bible teaches us to nourish and cherish our self, just as the Lord does the church (Ephesians 5:29). However, it is our unceasing perseverance in praying for others that aligns us with God’s will of a far-reaching and matured Christian prayerful life. It is in an intercessory prayer where we lift supplications and thanksgiving for others to God. It is transiently forgetting oneself and pleading to God for others.

While we tend to show our support in prayer for our friends and others, we shall also be cautious with the words that we speak. When comforting those who are going through trials and frustrations, it will be sensibly better to refrain from saying, “I will pray for you” if you really cannot or do not actually intend to do so.

Saying those words of encouragement may lighten the conversation at the moment but it turns up that it’s an empty statement if it was just said without sincerity. You have failed not only your friend but above all, you have failed God by with-holding His power from administering in the life of your friend. Remember that saying the right words with sincerity is like offering gold on a silver platter (Proverbs 25:11).

The Intercessors then and now

In the Old Testament times, the Levitical or Aaronic priests are the mediators between God and man. Under the Mosaic Law, Aaron and his sons were ordained to perform the priestly duties in the holy tabernacle (Exodus 28:1-3). They intercede for the people and are the only ones permitted to enter the holiest place. They assist in burning and offering sacrifices for the atonement of their own sins and for the sins of others. Their priesthood is passed on exclusively within the tribe of the Levites.

Under the New Testament, Jesus is the only high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 4:14 and Psalm 110:4). His holy priesthood is fitted only for the righteous King.

Jesus is our intercessor then, now and forever (Hebrews 7:25). He has been the offering once and for all, for the atonement of our sins. Jesus died and He has risen in resurrection for the salvation of mankind, our great priest, the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Through His death and resurrection, He has clothed us with His robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), and He has chosen our generation, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, and His own special people (1 Peter 2:9). As Jesus’ followers today, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

Who must be praying for whom?

In the first letter of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, he encourages the Christians of the church in Ephesus that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority.

Praying for others is an important sacrificial ministry introduced to us by Jesus Himself (John 17:1-26). Invitations for intercessory prayer are often announced in churches, only to be ignored by many. Most, if not all members of the church shrug their shoulders in apology, taking it as an invitation intended exclusively for the so called “prayer warriors.” Is everyone not a prayer warrior? Anyone who from his heart believes that God does answer prayers would be an intercessor, an effective prayer warrior, if he wills.

Following the steps of Jesus, we too are ordained to pray for all men. When it is written “for all men,” it means we need to pray universally not only for our friends and relatives but we must pray for our enemies too. We pray for those who curse and persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Would God hear our prayers of destruction for our enemies? Certainly not! God in all His goodness will rebuke such desire and prayer (Luke 9:53-56).

We need to pray for and in submission to the authority of our community and church leaders whom God has appointed to lead us (Romans 13:1). God directs the hearts of them that He appoints (Proverbs 21:1). Let us pray for God’s wisdom to be upon them, that we may lead a quiet and a peaceful life. Our leaders need our prayers for enlightenment and direction. For it is written that a blind man cannot lead the blind (Luke 6:39, see also Matthew 15:14).

Why do we intercede for others?

Different people have different motives in praying for others and in some cases, naively demeaning the powers of the one true God. As an example, some people say that they pray for others to generously help God as He works in answering prayers. When intercessory prayers are answered, they boast of being part of the process. They are sometimes subtly slow in remembering that God knows the thoughts and plans that He has for everyone (Jeremiah 29:11).

In His Divinity, He does not need our contribution to make what He thinks is appropriate to happen. Remember that apart from God; we cannot do anything (John 15:5). With or without us, God He can make things happen, according to His will from eternity (Isaiah 14:24). Similarly, in His gift of Salvation, man’s only contribution is sin. More so, some of us pray for others with the hope of fast-tracking God’s answers. Have we forgotten that God answers prayers in his own time (Isaiah 65:24)? Do we know better than Him as to when He has to answer our prayers?

In many other instances, we seem to show we care for others. In times, they pray the least, we heroically step-in interceding, with thoughts of covering-up for them. Is God just like one of us who plays the games we play? There should be nothing such as deliberate delegation of prayer. Neither is there prayer by substitution.

What then is the righteous motive in praying for others? Praying for others should have the very basic reason of loving others. Second to loving God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind, is His commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). If we could only love others just how the commandment says we should, it follows that selflessly interceding for them is easy as praying for our own self. Moreover, glory is brought back to God where it belongs, with the praises of thanksgiving from many whose prayers in their behalf are answered (2 Corinthians 1:11).

God does not change but the prayers of the righteous avail much.

As we move around expectant hearts in prayer for others, a popular question of all times can’t be helped being prominent. Can (intercessory) prayers change the mind of God? Many will turn their lips mum on this simply because of not wanting to create chaos more than clarity. Setting argument aside, let us try to seek answers from the scriptures and not from our own intelligence.

In Numbers 23:19; it is written that God is not man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent. He will do as He has spoken to make it good. We learned that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and with Him, there is no variation or shadow for turning (James 1:17). His essential being, Deity, character and attributes will never change.

Change is the result of an addition, alteration or deduction. God has been, is and will forever be perfectly complete in Himself without a need to change. If He was made perfect only after the change, then His perfection doesn’t validate His nature being God. God does not need change while there is a lot of changing in us waiting to be done.

Do the prayers of the righteous matter? God hears the prayers of the righteous and avail much (1 Peter 3:12, see also James 5:16). He knows what is there in the beginning and what will be there in the end. The prayers of the righteous touch the heart of our ever loving and merciful God. Because of his great love for us, He allows intermediate events to change in between the beginning and the end but works on things in alignment to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11, see also Isaiah 46:10).

Under any circumstances, if the response to our prayers that is appropriate within His Deity, calls for mercy, reformation, rebuke, punishment, blessings or for whatever the fulfillment of His promises would require, that is surely what He will do.

Lastly, God is sovereign and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Our ways are not His ways. His thoughts and ways are higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9). Being such, there will and will always be questions left unanswered within the intelligence of man.

If there is one question here not to be left unanswered, let it be asked within us. Do you love God and would obey His commandment to love your neighbor as yourself? If your answer here is a “Yes” just like mine, continue praying for others with love!

 

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16 Replies to “The Importance of Praying for Others”

  1. God bless you for the wonderful work you do. It is an eye opener. We will follow your advise. God bless you.

    1. Hi Yolanda. Thank you for taking time to read the article. I am so grateful that you take it as an eye opener. Our lives will all be better off when we align it with the words of God.
      God bless you more!

  2. I had recently heard a sermon series on the Psalms and one of the things the speaker suggested in prayer and in praise songs is to actually praise God first before asking of Him anything. It was presented that this was a better way than just going to God for a wish list because it helps the person who is praying focus on who God is instead of thinking only of himself.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. Dear Chad,
      I totally agree with what you have heard in that particular sermon. Jesus himself taught His disciples to praise God first in prayer (Luke 11:1-4). We have to start our prayer in praise and worship as we acknowledge His goodness in our lives.

      Although not explicitly described in the Bible aside from seeking God first and the rest will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33), we pattern our prayers with adoration (putting God first), confession, thanksgiving and supplication (and all these things shall be added unto you).

      Having a wish list with us as we come to our Lord in prayer is not wrong at all. However, we should come to Him with the proper motives and with a clean heart in obedience to His commandments. He is an answering God … in His time … in His ways!

      God bless us!

  3. Bro. Jess,
    I cannot tell you how much this article means to me. You are so right, now that I think about it. I pray often, but you are right, I often say “I,” “me,” “mine” and “my” as you mentioned. “my son”, “my family”. Yes, I pray for people, but as you mentioned for our own. Interestingly enough today my son asked me if I think God is with me. I said yes, well he said it’s doesn’t feel like God is with him, so he is not praying anymore. He is 16, so I had to explain to him, but of course he still didn’t believe me.

    1. Dear Kenisha,
      Praise God for touching your heart through this article about prayer. God is likewise working in me, as by His goodness, am being thought to be prayerful not only for myself but for all His people.

      I can feel how saddening it is to be told by your son of his feeling abandoned by God. We all sometimes unmindfully feel that way, only to realize that God is working out on our faith. What your son needs is all the love he can get. Make him feel God’s love through you. Continue to pray for him for God loves him too and will never leave nor forsake him (see Joshua 1:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6).

      God bless you more!

  4. Thank you so much for reminding me of God blessed us. I am so glad I remember your amazing post here! That’s what exactly I learned from Bible class almost talked about this. However, The Bible says in Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” That’s mean He cannot change. God always stays the same. God’s plan never changes. God’s Word never changes. God will never change.

    God knows everything. God knows our thoughts now. God knows all we do in the dark. God knows all that will happen tomorrow. We cannot hide a secret from Him. He knows all things. 1 John 3:20 in The Bible said that. Plus, He knew that we planned to pray what we needed.

    Of course He loves us as His children when Jesus died for us.

    Learned that God is Trinity. [Father is God, Jesus is God, and Holy Spirit is God]

    When we have trouble, Jesus is in heaven to help us. While Jesus was on earth He did many miracles to show His power. Jesus can help us with our problems. That’s where we can pray when we need. Also, God has good plans for us more than we thought.

    That’s all God has powerful. Amen!

    1. Hi James! Amen to all what was said! Praise God for refreshing all that you have learned in the bible class. Indeed, God never changes and He never needs to change. The God we serve is a perfect God and remains the same yesterday, today and forevermore (see Hebrews 13:8). It is us who needs to change from glory to glory and that is exactly what the Holy Spirit is working on us (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

      God bless you!

  5. I have been brought up in the church and sadly I find it hard to attend anymore. I guess it is because I am an introvert and have a really hard time socializing and getting out there. Don’t get me wrong, I am spiritual, I do believe in God, and I pray. I pray a lot for myself and for others. I know that this is not good enough, but maybe one day I will have someone in my life who can get me going again with them. Until then, I will do my best.

    1. Hello! I am glad to hear about your healthy prayer life. I believe the Holy Spirit has been working into your life that makes you want to pray more!

      Although sometimes, we think that we can praise and worship God by ourself, alone, the scriptures encourages us to be in fellowship with one another so we may gain more spiritual strength and encouragement (see Hebrews 10:25).

      Faith comes from hearing the word of God and we can do that by being in attendance to where we feed our soul, the church where Jesus is being preached about (see Romans 10:17).

      God bless you more in your walk with Jesus!

  6. Hi brother Jess, thank you for this inspiring post. How I wish I can say with all honesty that my prayer life is very healthy. There are still times when I cannot spend as much time as I wish I should with the Lord because of my very busy schedule, which of course is not an excuse. Do you have suggestions or any advice on how Christians could maintain a healthy prayer notwithstanding our busy and hectic day-to-day schedule?

    1. Hi sis Alice. Yes, you’re right. In today’s busy world everyone is so busy rushing on things right from the rising to the setting of the sun. However, one very good rule of thumb which can be wisely followed is when everything is urgent, you have to prioritize. As a Christian, we have to put God first in our lives. In Matthew 6:33, we need to seek the kingdom of God first and everything else will be added.

      Having said the above, putting God first, ahead of a busy schedule for the day will be a good suggestion. Pray even before you start your busy day. Self-dicsipline and sincerity will help us maintain a healthy prayer life! God bless!

      1. Big amen to that bro. Jess, and thank you for the reminder to always put God first in our life; to seek Him and spend time with Him before we even start our day. Because most of the time we already know what we should do but the problem is that we lack self-discipline. Thanks again and have a blessed day!

  7. Hi Mei! It’s all about us. Only by getting into a deeper personal relationship with Jesus that we can eventually be able to become unselfish in our prayer life.

    I am glad to hear that you have started to change your prayer lifestyle into becoming a matured Christian. Praying for others first as you have been doing is a very good go-by that I am sure many would follow!

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience on this. God bless you more!

  8. I have been so bad for, and guilty of the empty “I will pray for you”. I know this, even when I am praying – it’s always about me, and never do I remember nor take the time to pray for those in need of it, or for those whom I said I would specifically pray for.

    I feel selfish about it, yet for so long I’ve done nothing to change it. So the past couple weeks, I’ve been trying to be a little more deliberate about my praying. I try to always start with my thanks/praise, and then pray for others, and finish my prayer with my own concerns regarding myself. 🙂

    Thank you for this beautifully written reminder about prayer. xo

    1. Hello Mei,
      We have all been guilty of praying for our self only especially when we were still baby Christians but I believe that as we continue in Christ and in His Word we will grow and mature. Part of Christian growth and maturity to pray more for the needs of others than for our own. I myself am guilty of this and I can’t really say that I have truly matured in my prayer life even after 16 years of being a believer. I am still striving day after day to be a good follower of Christ so I thank God for articles/messages like these as constant reminders of how I am supposed to live my life in Christ.
      God bless you Mei.

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