By Benjamin H. Liles
I know I have a tendency to admit things when I feel I have to and this is one of those times: I’m not like my wife, who is a passionate prayer warrior. To tell you the truth prayer doesn’t readily come easy to me as it does for and to her. It always seems she has the right words for the situation you find yourself. And that’s the thing, prayer isn’t just a onetime event and then you move on. It’s something you actively have to do. Do you have a job promotion that you’re about to get? Pray on it. Are you in pain and suffering? Pray over it. Have you faced the highs and lows of life, needing direction? Pray to God about it.
So, why this sudden focus on prayer then? Prayer is a way we keep ourselves opened and aligned with God and His will in our lives. It’s not so much that we have to talk, but that we open ourselves up to receive Him and His word in and for our lives. I told my wife some time back that I can’t always just jump into writing articles; I have to wait and see what the Lord wants me to say. In that sense I pray. But what does it mean to pray?
James, a disciple and brother of Christ (half-brother actually), says this, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, New King James). The Expanded Bible says it this way: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen” (James 5:16, Expanded).
So, that’s what it means, essentially. We help one another out in love by asking for God’s healing and His righteousness in our lives. So often in our lives we are so busy doing this and that we forget at times to do what God commands us to do which is to humble ourselves, to seek Him, to seek His mercy, and call on Him. We’re told by one of God’s prophets, “I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30, Holman Christian Standard).
Another aspect of prayer is that it not only helps one another, but that it implores God to stay His hand of judgment. My wife read last night in Psalm 105, “He is the LORD our God: his judgments are all in the earth” (Psalm 105:7, American King James). I’ll admit I had a hard time understanding what that meant. I had to look it up. In another translation the verse says, “He is the LORD our God. His laws are for the world” (Psalm 105:7, Expanded).
So, if prayer helps us to keep our face towards God, then when we do so on behalf of others we’re also asking God to extend His mercy; we are extending God’s justice by being active participants of His mercy. Prayer helps us stay and remain humble before Him.
Paul said this to the church at Corinth, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our hardship which came to us in Asia (this being Turkey in the modern sense), that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many” (1 Corinthians 1:8-11, in bold the verse talking about lifting others in prayer, New American Standard).
We are to be active in our prayer life; not just listening to what God is showing and revealing to us, but to lift up our spiritual family in whatever need they have. Whether it is due to pain, sickness, loss of life, loss of a loved one (even to divorce), and even the joys in life we are to lift one another in prayer.
Finally, we are to pray not just for those we love, but also for those who oppose us, whether they are governing authorities, or even people who stand in opposition to God. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties (requests) and prayers, petitions and thanksgiving, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil (peaceful) and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, New American Standard). No matter what happens in our life we ought to be before God imploring Him to show His merciful kindness to others as He has shown it to us. Without that we have and are nothing to Him who once saved us. My prayer is that this helps you regardless of what’s going on in your life.
Lastly, I ask that you keep my wife and I lifted in prayer. I ask on her behalf as she is greatly sick, feeling weaker by the day. If she doesn’t get well soon I will have to make a doctor’s appointment for her and get her medicine she greatly needs. In regards to myself, I want prayer as to how to help others with their family history. Genealogy can be a wonderful gift and I can help with that. If you look at what all you can get when you place an order with me, you get a good deal on what you can pass on to your family. Other than that, prayer helps and benefits everyone. I ask and pray this helps and heals you in whatever you are going through. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray. Amen.