“Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you”
2 Thessalonians 3:1
Bible Study time done, the group started sharing prayer requests. Please pray. Please pray. Please pray, we ask one another. For my friend. For my child. For my husband. For my coworker.
Dialoguing with myself silently there at the table, I jotted down the requests of others and thought, “mine seems so silly, so selfish, so small. Haven’t I prayed for myself already?”
Surely I had. Not more than one hour before sitting down at that table to teach others, I had been face-to-face with my carpet, not just on my knees, but prostrate before God. All stretched out before His throne in humble need (hoping my children didn’t come searching for me and find Mommy on the floor). Not for cancer. Not for death. Not for brokenness. For a string of bad days, for lack of sleep, for a husband who was away, for knowing that I felt far too ill-equipped to teach anyone from God’s Word that night. What else to pray, but “help me, God!” and to tell Satan to get lost—in Jesus’s name, of course.
Yet, knowing full well that it matters when others pray for us, that the combined power of saints on their knees works in ways that my private prayers do not, I shared my tiny need with the group of ladies gathered at the table. “I need the rest of this week to get better. I need my children to sleep and not wake up grumpy, whining and so quick to fight with each other. I need no more animal mishaps like 30 of my fish dying from some freak thermostat disaster. We’ve had such a rough start; please pray for us.”
We prayed. I went home, chased children around the house with pajamas and toothbrushes, climbed into bed all weary myself. The next morning I woke up for the first time in months, not to the sound of a child, but just because of morning sunlight. I awoke to a day that got better and better and a week no longer plagued with sleeplessness and stress. I awoke to notes from friends and family saying they were praying for me.
We prayed. God answered.
How often have you sat in your small group, though, looked around at Christians you love and you trust, and not shared your prayer need?
Because you were afraid to share the request you have, maybe even ashamed and embarrassed.
Because everyone’s prayer requests seemed so much bigger than yours.
Because it seemed so selfish to ask for prayer for yourself and much more acceptable to ask on behalf of others.
Remember these things:
We Need Others to Pray for Us
Paul poured out prayers in his letters to the churches, that they would understand the love of God, know His will, and persevere in the midst of trials. To the Thessalonians, he wrote: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2). Then, he asked for their prayers in return, “Finally brothers, pray for us, that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
There is no question that Paul himself was praying for the effective spread of the Gospel; nevertheless, he requested those same prayers from others. He knew that corporate prayer has power and the unified petitions of the saints have impact. So, praying in your own home and in your own car is good and necessary, but you should not be ashamed, embarrassed, or reluctant to call for backup and enlist the prayer support of others. It is part of the giving and receiving that we do in the Body of Christ. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
In some ways, Paul was giving the Thessalonian church a gift. He invited them into ministry partnership with Him, asking them to pray for him and his missionary team as they traveled and shared the Gospel. We give each other a gift when we invite others into prayer partnership with us. They now have a part in healing marriages, restoring broken relationships, shepherding wayward children, defeating disease, leading ministries, and redeeming finances. Not in their own strength, but because they intercede before God on our behalf. They struggle in prayer and wrestle the Enemy and receive victory in partnership with us.
There are times when our friends must carry us to Jesus, paralyzed as we are like the man in Capernaum. He could have lain their unable to move and simply hoped that Jesus would notice him on the outskirts of the crowd, but the needs were many and the mob of people overwhelming. Instead, four friends carried him to Jesus, parting the crowds as best they could and then climbing up on the roof and lowering him down to Jesus’s feet (Mark 2:1-5). We need friends with such faith, friends who will bring us to Christ’s sandaled toes and request healing for what paralyzes us.
Do you have someone to pray for you and with you? It could be a small group or it could be one faithful praying friend. Seek that out so that you do not battle the bad days or the life crises alone.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King