One of the special benefits my wife and I have received over the years is the prayer support of many church and ministry friends. When you go through tough times, it’s such a consolation to know someone is praying for you.
Someone alongside you
We need to have fellowship that is real enough to share our joys and sorrows, our blessings and burdens. James exhorts us to “…pray for one another…” (James 5:16). As we see God’s grace and answers, praying friends are due some of the credit.
Evidently, the apostle Paul didn’t outgrow the need for intercession on his behalf. Consider these references:
“Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you” (Rom. 15:30-31).
And [pray] for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19).
“Brethren, pray for us” (1Thess 5:25).
Now if the great apostle recognized the importance of being prayed for, how much more should you and I?
Someone above you
Even when we don’t sense much prayer support from others, we have a more faithful Intercessor–the Risen Christ!
The night before His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus prayed that profound prayer as recorded in John 17:1-26. He also included the rest of His redeemed family in this intercession: “I do not pray for these alone [the twelve], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word [believers through the ages, including today]”(John 17:20).
Christ’s resurrection and ascension transitioned the nature of His intercession. Now His prayer is expressed through His presence and finished work at the Father’s right hand. In the midst of persecution, the early Jewish believers were assured that their king-priest is present in heaven as their redeemer and advocate. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). That means, fellow believer, that Jesus is praying for you.
Someone within you
When a person receives God’s salvation, he/she is spiritually baptized [birthed into the Body of Christ] by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). If you’re born again (John 3:1-16), you have God the Holy Spirit living within you. As the Scripture reveals,
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” ( 1Cor. 2:12).
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19. See also 3:16; Rom 8:9; Eph. 1:13)
What does the Holy Spirit have to do with prayer? Plenty! He carries our prayers “upward.” Romans 8:26,27 reveal His mysterious intercession for us:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
We have a supernatural Prayer Partner!
Missionary friends of ours reported this year about an unusual prayer meeting at a church in Kenya. Paula Nichols was going to teach there, so she arrived early to see a group of women praying earnestly. She was impressed, but couldn’t understand their language. She began her own intercession for God’s protection, guidance and blessing on the meeting. Then she heard some shocking news: these people we not praying for the meetings, they were praying to the spirits against the meetings! Their prayer partner was the local shaman who was threatened by the advance of the Gospel. However, the prayers of the Lord’s people prevailed and the ministry there was successful.
What a consolation to have a personal prayer life, and intercessory support from friends along side you, a Savior above, representing you, and the Holy Spirit within, interceding deeply for you. So, shake off any loneliness and self-pity. Take the opportunity to share in faith and fellowship as you pray for others too.
Copyright 2011 by John B. Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety for non-commercial use with credit given. Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson.