I was a senior in high school. While riding the bus home one day, several of the “rowdies” on the bus were really giving a friend of mine a hard time. Let’s just say the names they were calling him were anything but encouraging and several threats were being thrown his direction. This was going on all the way up until our stop. My friend and I got off at the same bus stop and as we were getting off the bus, one of the hooligans lunged toward my friend. I caught this happening out of the corner of my eye and instinctively stepped between the bully and my friend. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was hoping my white belt in Kenpo would be enough to protect both of us. Well, to be honest, I didn’t have a white belt in Kenpo. I had only watched a Steven Segal movie and he made it all look easy enough. How hard could it be? Anyway, the point is, I instinctively wanted to step in to help and to protect, even though I had no idea what that would look like at the time.
Our prayers for each other can be used in the same way. If I am genuinely concerned and interested in the work of God in a person’s life, I simply cannot neglect praying for them. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (NLT) To “intercede” simply means: “to make a request or petition on behalf of or for the benefit of another person or persons.” In other words, prayer will draw us out of ourselves and in to the life of another. Prayer puts us right in the middle of the action that God is doing in someone else’s life. And, prayer brings more to the fight than a white belt in Kenpo. Prayer brings the infinitely, self-sufficient God in to our relationships and invites Him to do what only He can do in another’s life.
In his book A Gospel Primer, Milton Vincent writes, “Prayer is not simply something I am allowed to do as a Christian; prayer is actually one of the great purposes for which God chose to save me.” I find this to be true because, not only is prayer my ongoing conversation with God, but prayer is a way to serve others as well. Yes, I want to get my hands dirty by helping others, but I must get my knees dirty as well by kneeling before the Father and praying that out of His glorious riches, others would be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith … that they may be rooted and established in love and may have supernatural power from God to grasp and experience the love of Christ, even though it is too great to understand fully. (Ephesians 3:14 – 19) Yes, I am called to help and my help can make a difference. But, only God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” therefore, we must pray.