Once you have genuine faith, you need to realise that to pray for others is the most powerful, valuable and effective activity you can engage in. When led by the Spirit of God, such prayer is a great expression of divine love. It is good and necessary to pray for oneself – to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to have one’s needs met and so on. But you are operating at a higher level when you pray according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance for others. And as you do this, you are also sowing to the Spirit – and you will reap multiplied blessings in the future!
Not everyone realises that our Lord Jesus Christ has a ministry even today! The Bible says:
“Consequently, he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Jesus is in heaven LIVING to make intercession for us who are drawing near to God! If Jesus is interceding to the Father on our behalf, this must be a very necessary and important activity. Someone no less important than the Son of God Himself, our Great High Priest, spends His time interceding for people who are drawing near to God. That is comforting!
Now if Jesus is doing this right now, doesn’t it make sense for His followers to be doing it also? If what I am saying is right, we would expect to know that the apostles of Jesus who knew Him best were also constantly engaged in this practice? What does the Bible say?
Paul was the greatest missionary of all times. He also supported himself financially, incredibly. Yet in describing what he spends his spiritual life doing, we see that he was chiefly a man of prayer and intercession for others. Virtually every one of his letters says this.
Paul prayed for others – the Romans, the Corinthians and virtually every church he ever had anything to do with!
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, (Romans 1:9)
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. (Galatians 4:19 NLT)
Labour pains are intense pains – only a woman can tell you how intense – and Paul is talking about extremely strong and painful intercessory burdens that he carried for Christians who got off the path of truth. Again we see Paul praying for others.
Paul prayed for the Ephesians – he mentions this in chapter 3 as well.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: (Ephesians 1:15-16)
Paul prayed for the Philippians whenever he remembered them.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, (Philippians 1:3,4)
Paul did not stop praying for the Colossians.
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Colossians 1:3)
And the following Scripture gives us an idea of what Paul prayed as well. This is important, too.
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9)
Paul prayed continually for the Thessalonians.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)
Paul also prayed continually for individuals, like his son in the faith Timothy.
I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, (2 Timothy 1:3)
Paul instructed the Corinthians, who were not at that time known for their outstanding love and spirituality, to “imitate me [Paul] as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). What does this imply about the will of God for our prayer lives today? Could our collective failure to do this also account for our collective failures in seizing the will of God for our generation? Is it possible that the successes we do see chiefly come down to this one factor more than any other? I think eternity will reveal that this is the case.
Whatever else we may do – whether it is caring for believers or preaching to the lost – whether it is making disciples or getting money together for God’s work – all needs to be undergirded by prayer or it just won’t work.
Other Church Founders Tell Us to Pray
Peter the apostle told us to pray.
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (1 Peter 5:7)
And of course our Lord Jesus taught us a parable that men ought always to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1). There are multiple exhortations from the Lord about prayer. He told us to ask and keep on asking, that we may receive, in the Sermon on the Mount.
Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7 – AMPLIFIED)
We really need to do this. We need to grow up in this. We need to prioritise this. We need to believe in this, whether we are “full time” in the ministry or not. This is what will bring God onto the scene more than anything else.
Of course, prayer without obedience to God is a vain exercise. But there is no real lifestyle of obedience without prayer either. The kind of faith that pleases God leads to obedience out of trust and confidence in God Himself.
There are many promises God makes about prayer, especially when combined with faith, and the need of the hour is for all of us to improve in this area. It is not a matter of jumping from where we are to a perfect prayer life today. What is more important is the direction we are travelling in. Do we really believe that prayer makes a difference? What is the value of God’s answer? Do we really believe that God is saying something to us? Are we responding? Are we doing what we can to develop the relationship and intimacy with God? Are we getting rid of obstacles? Are we getting rid of unnecessary distractions so we can pray more and better?
How Can We Pray More as God Wants?
The simple answer is by yielding to the Holy Spirit. That needs to be a habit, and going after the Holy Spirit needs to be a passion and a pursuit for us. The Holy Spirit will lead us into prayer, empower us and make us feel good a lot when we pray (although pain can also exist in the spiritual conflict). I know all this from personal experience. I encourage you to pursue the Holy Spirit especially if you have never spoken in tongues and received the most helpful prayer language that is actually available to all Christians to help in matters like this.
The Holy Spirit will also lead us to thank God as a form of prayer. He will lead us to praise God as a form of prayer. He will lead us to pray the Word of God – to pray back to God the very words He gave us as promises in the Bible. All of these approaches have great power. But we need to do it. At the same time Satan will oppose it if he can. How do we help this prayer to multiply and happen more then?
A Practical Solution to Help Prayer Happen
I’m wanting to form another online prayer network where we pray for both believers and unbelievers. Even though praying for believers is more heavily emphasised in the Bible, the Scriptures still teach us that “first of all” – that is, as a matter of utmost priority – we are to pray for all men (1 Timothy 2:1). This means praying for all people actually. It does not mean saying, “I pray for all people that …” Rather it means that the church of God should endeavour to pray for EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the community by name. This is because God wants everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2: 4).
Christian churches and movements that have taken this seriously have seen a serious movement of people turning to Christ in repentance and faith. It DOES make a difference. All we need to do is believe it and act on it. Of course, this means making time for this kind of thing – and time is very valuable. Some say “time is money” as if money was really the most valuable thing, but actually time is. Use and steward the time God gave you to pray for others.
Personally I would like to create online tools for facilitating this. I hope you will pray for me and pray for this network to succeed. It will take time and money to achieve this, as well as God’s favor and persistence. Perhaps God is calling you to assist in the development of this network. Please reach out to me if you believe that this could be the case.