The Richest Gift You Can Give

The young woman visited our church’s Food Pantry and as she gathered some items mentioned that she was selective about her choices since she was living in her car! My heart was touched and as the opportunity presented I asked if she had resources to get housing before the winter months. She replied that she was working on it and that an agency was assisting. Then I asked if I could pray for her. “Sure,” she answered, “that would be nice,” and started to walk away.

“Could I pray for you right now?” I asked. When given permission, I prayed for God to send kind and good people her way, to give her wisdom and courage to face the future, and that she would know, deep inside of her heart, that Jesus loved her. I looked up and saw tears streaming down her face as she left.

I cannot remember how many times that others have prayed for me. I probably do not even know about most of the prayers offered for me, but they are treasured! The prayers of friend and family have sustained me in trial, in sickness, when seeking guidance. One of things I lost when my wife stepped into eternity were her prayers for she was my constant advocate before the Lord.  I can only hope that my prayers are as comforting to them as the prayers offered on my behalf are to me. When I have passed on most of my sermonizing will be forgotten, my writing will fade into oblivion. The prayers I have prayed for others will last, written in eternity.

Please know this, my Christian friend, you can give others a rich gift with your prayers. You don’t have to be a Pastor to pray for others. You don’t have to have a theology degree or be eloquent! The Word urges us to keep close relationships that include transparency and advocacy.  These lead us to ‘healing,’ which is not just about physical well-being, but wholeness of our person – body, soul, and spirit. James says  “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man (person) is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)

When we pray for one another, let’s not just do it from a distance, let’s learn to do that in person, or in a text, or in a phone call. Praying, even if the words get fumbled, even when there are quiet pauses, is a soothing salve for the soul. Few things will stir me as deeply as hearing someone talk about me, my needs, my life to our Father.  God will put it all in the right perspective and use our prayers to accomplish His will and purposes.

When we pray for each other, we must go beyond – “Lord, bless Pete, Sally, and Sam.” Let’s get specific, praying for financial provision, for specific guidance, for restoration of love in marriages, for victory over sin, for spiritual growth, … the stuff of real life! We don’t have to long or wordy, but we need to be direct! Please remember this – prayers for others are not an opportunity to ‘set them straight’ while we preach them a mini-sermon. If someone needs to get right or change course, talk to God alone about that in their life and ask for an opportunity to be a loving friend who helps, but never misuse prayer as a message system. I have experienced those ‘prayers’ and honestly, I resent them.

Prayer is powerful!  Do you pray for others?   If that seems daunting to you keep in mind that you are just taking the need of our friend to God, asking Him directly on their behalf. Open your heart, your mouth, engage your mind and speak to the Father.  Sometimes when I pray for people I have no idea what to pray about. The situation may be complicated, the details of their dilemma unknown to me, yet I can pray for them because God knows their need, so I ask Him to love them, keep them, steady them, entrusting that person to Him. He knows what is best.

“But, Jerry, what does that gain? Doesn’t He already know the need?”  He does! I cannot explain all the reasons that an All-knowing, All-powerful Purposeful God wants us to pray, but clearly He does. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)  If we prayed for people even half as much as we talk about them to others we would see amazing things happen!

So let us pray! Really. Let’s take seriously God’s desire that we exercise a priestly ministry for others. Christians are called to be priests. That does not mean working in a church, wearing vestments, or being ordained. A priest is one who administers God’s grace to others, sharing His love. We ALL can do that and one way is prayer.

Let me pray for you now borrowing Paul’s amazing prayer for the Ephesians, a prayer that is one of my favorite passages in the Word.

“Out of his glorious riches (may) He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV)  To the praise and honor of our wonderful Lord. Amen!

__________________

Somebody’s Prayin’
(Ricky Skaggs does this song beautifully!)

Somebody’s prayin’
I can feel it
Somebody’s prayin’ for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect me
From what I can’t see
Lord I believe
Lord I believe
Somebody’s prayin’ for me


Angels are watchin’
I can feel it
Angels are watchin’ over me
There’s many miles ahead
‘Till I get home
Still I’m safely kept
Before Your throne
‘Cause Lord I believe
Lord I believe Your angels
Are watchin’ over me

Well I’ve walked
The barren wilderness
Where my pillow was a stone
And I’ve been through
The darkest caverns
Where no light had ever shone
Still I went on
‘Cause there was someone
Who was down on their knees
And Lord I thank You
For those people
Prayin’ all this time for me

John G. Elliott

© 1985 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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