“……the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person availeth much…..” As I think about prayer, there are a number of things that challenge me. Keeping a prayer journal or prayer list, written or mental, of all of the prayer needs that cross one’s eyes, ears, and consciousness can be a challenge. I am grateful for the my own church’s role in doing that for us, maintaining a weekly list of prayer requests, so that those of us who have asked to be on the list for prayer and those who are on the distribution list to pray for others can keep up with our congregation’s members and others who consider us their faith family. It is a joy to share in their lives and those of their family and friends for whom prayer is requested. I am grateful for the altar prayer team that acts on behalf of our congregation to pray for those on the list and also for those whose requests are confidential. I am grateful for those who have the courage to make their needs known to their friends at church, here on Facebook and elsewhere, trusting that those who know and love them will respond to their requests for prayer. I am grateful for those with the gift of intercessory prayer, on whose hearts God places specific needs during intensive seasons of prayer for individuals, institutions, or circumstances. I am grateful for friends who share praise reports of answered prayers, their own or those of others. Those reports of answered prayers build faith and give us confidence in the power of prayer.
I have many people whom I love and for whom I desire God’s blessings. Among those are blessings like those that Jesus sought in his prayer to the Father on behalf of his disciples in John 17 are things like salvation, comfort, peace, protection from evil, Christ’s joy, unity, wisdom, sanctifying grace, the assurance of God’s love, and more. But it is not simply the case that I desire God’s blessings for them. God desires to bless them, too.
As I think about Jesus’ prayer for his disciples these are the kinds of things that Jesus prayed not only for the twelve, but for ALL WHO WOULD COME TO BELIEVE BECAUSE OF THEIR WITNESS! Jesus was praying for ME, even then…..across centuries of time, across the distance of cultures’ geography and differences in practices, across gender, and so much more. He was praying for ME……then……and he is praying for me now through the presence and power of His Spirit in me and in others whom he has placed in my life who know me personally and even some who don’t.
Prayer is a way for us to express our concerns to God. But equally important it is a way for us to make ourselves available to know and express God’s concerns to one another. The problem is, our words sometimes get in the way. Take for instance a recent experience. A young lady was at the altar kneeling, tearful, tugged at by the call to yield, and feeling a mix of emotions. She would not have even been able to express the emotions she was feeling to those around her coming for prayer or to those standing beside her who came alongside her to pray for her. But as she kneeled there another daughter of God, submitted to the Father touched her gently on the shoulder and began speaking in words that only Spirit understands. There was no embarrassment for her in feeling the need to voice her prayer request, no need for confidential matters to be spoken in earshot of others who were there.
The prayer partner’s prayer, offered in a quiet whisper in “tongues”…..the utterance of Spirit…..was loving and gentle and confidential. As the young lady later said, “I felt my heart gently lifted upward and my spirit comforted.” When that is the result, one has the assurance that Christ has been present in it.