“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)
When I consider the monumental task of helping a person become like Jesus, I quickly realize I have no power in myself (Phil 2.13). Sure, I can get people to do religious stuff but I can train a parrot to quote Scripture. Although we participate with God in the restoration process, we must never fool ourselves into believing it is our efforts that really change the human heart.
This is why prayer is so important. First, it is a declaration of our dependence on God to do a work in the individual’s heart. It is an act of humility that pleases the Father. We properly align our hearts and minds with God’s as we pray for another to do the same.
Secondly, prayer enlists God’s power to change a person at the depth of their soul. Without supernatural intervention, all change is superficial and temporary. We are not trying to help people just know and act like Jesus, we want them to be like Jesus (Lk 6.40).
It’s not difficult to learn to pray for others. We do it all the time and it’s a significant part of church life. But if you listen carefully, you almost never hear people praying for another’s spiritual wellbeing. It is normally a physical ailment or a particular trial a person is enduring. These are important, but they pale in light of spiritual needs. We need to pray for their spiritual growth and health as well. (Phil 1.9, Col 1.9, 2 Th 3.1, Phm 1.6, Heb 13.18, Jm 5.16)
Obviously, I’m familiar enough with their lives to pray through specific needs. But another way that I pray for others is to look through my quiet times and pray significant passages for them. I want to ask God to work the living Word into their lives (Heb 4.12). I pray for their future and of course, I ask them what they would like me to pray for them.
As disciplers, praying for others is not a luxury. It is the underpinning of all our labors.
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© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved