Praying for Others

Praying for Others

There was a lady who was taking a first aid course one college semester. During the classes, the students were asked to give examples of how they had already been able to use their first aid training. One week this lady said, “I got to use my first aid training this week. I heard a terrible crash in front of my house. A car had run into my yard, hit a tree, and the car doors had flown open, and there were some injured people on my front lawn. Because I had taken this first aid class, I immediately knew what to do! I sat down and put my head between my knees, so I wouldn’t pass out!”

Like this lady, we have learned how to pray, but when we see lost people, too often our prayers are for ourselves instead of them. That is not like Jesus.

Matthew 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The daily news overwhelms us with topics for prayer. We can pray about crime, poverty, wars, famine, and disaster both at home and overseas. The needs are endless, complex, and huge. Therefore, we feel helpless and powerless to make any impact. We are bewildered and so we don’t pray earnestly, if we pray at all.

However, history proves that prayer is capable of altering the very destiny of mankind and of entire nations, such as China, North Korea, and the United States. To help us pray earnestly for others according to God’s will, we need to first pray for the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Before His ascension, Jesus told His disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait until the Holy Spirit had come upon them before they did anything. Then they would have power and direction to impact the entire world.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

“Jerusalem” symbolizes our home town. Ask God to open your eyes to the spiritual needs of those who around you and ask Him give you His Spirit so you can pray according to His will.

“Judea and Samaria” represent our state and nation. We need to pray for a spiritual awakening  in America. We need to pray for our elected officials. We need to pray for true reconciliation among our citizens. God is the only hope for our nation.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Your “land” could be your home as well as your country. Notice the conditions God states in His promise to heal our land. He requires people, who are called by His Name, to humble themselves, to seek Him, and to repent of their sin—His people, not sinners—must seek God and repent. Otherwise, He will not hear our prayer.

The problem is too many “Christians” are not humbling themselves and repenting. They are committing adultery, having sex and babies outside of wedlock, having abortions, lying, stealing, gossiping, full of selfishness and gluttony, prideful, rebellious, unforgiving, and they don’t believe or obey the Bible. That is why our nation is in the mess we are in. We are suffering the consequences of our sin. So begin your prayer for our nation with repentance.

We can also pray for others in foreign lands. In some countries, Christianity and the Bible are illegal. Only prayer can reach beyond such barriers as Islam and other false religions of the world.

Therefore, pray for native missionaries! Pray for the ones who are there, pray for more of them.

Jesus told His disciples again in Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Along with your prayers, you can support a native missionary financially through Gospel for Asia or another missionary organization. Native missionaries know the culture and the language. They require less training and preparation. They don’t require government visas to enter the country. Their standard of living is simple and they are free to roam the country. But don’t just send money—pray! There is great power in intercession. If you are supporting a missionary, they will tell you how to pray for them and how to pray for the people to whom they are ministering.

Harold Lindsell explains, "Distance is no bar, space no barrier, to reaching the remotest place on earth. Nor is the power of prayer diminished by the distance between the person who prays and the person who is prayed for. Men and nations can and do have their destinies decided by God’s praying people, who, through intercessory prayer, wield power greater than the armed might of the nations of the earth."

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

The church at Thessalonica was supporting Paul as a missionary. Paul wasn’t embarrassed to ask the church to pray for him. And he gave them two specific things to pray about. One of the factors that makes our praying so weak and ineffective is that our prayers are too generalized. Paul asked the believers to specifically “pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored,” and “pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men”.

Paul spent much of his ministry in prison, but that didn’t hinder his prayers nor the Gospel from spreading. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:8-9, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!”

Just think how God’s Word has spread around the world. After the Resurrection of Jesus there were only eleven disciples. Then 120 believers were praying on the Day of Pentecost. Then there were 3,000 added to the church that first day. Later 5,000 believers were added.

Today there are two billion people who confess Jesus as their Lord. But there are over seven billion people on the planet. The mission is not accomplished and we have to do our part to get the Gospel to the ends of the earth. That’s one reason we need to pray earnestly.

Another reason to pray for others is to conduct spiritual warfare against Satan and his demons, who inspire people to reject Jesus Christ. We see the battlefront as Christians around the world are facing severe persecution. Even here in America, there are people opposing anyone who is standing up for Jesus Christ. If you are not aware of this, wake up and get prepared! If you don’t, you will fall away from the faith when persecution comes to you.

Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:9-14 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

We need to be praying specifically for the safety of everyone involved in sharing the Gospel. Pray also for those who hear the Word, that they may have grace to believe, repent, and give their life to Jesus Christ by being baptized. In some places, that could mean ostracism or death.

Paul not only asked the church at Thessalonica to pray specifically for him, he prayed specifically for them. He wrote, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” It’s great to tell someone you’re praying for them, but it’s better to tell them WHAT you’re asking God to do in their lives. Better yet, pray with them in their presence or while you are speaking with them on the phone.

We need to pray for each other that we will persevere in Christ. Perseverance carries the idea of endurance in the midst of trials. It means to keep on running the race of faith even when you grow tired and weary.

Hebrews 12:1-3 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God has marked out a race for us. We are to go and make disciples of all nations. So you see this race isn’t a 100-meter dash; it’s a lifelong marathon. The only way we can finish the race is by keeping our eyes on Jesus. He is our example. Look at Jesus on the cross and see the shame and opposition He faced. Yet for the JOY He knew was ahead, He endured the cross. So, don’t give up. Keep on running the race with perseverance. Keep praying and pray for one another.

Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission. He wasn’t a great preacher or fundraiser. But he was a man of faith and prayer who spent 51 years in China. On his first trip to China, he almost didn’t make it. Here’s how Hudson Taylor described what happened: “Our ship was becalmed and gradually drifting toward the coast of New Guinea. We could see savages on the shore. They had kindled a fire and were evidently expecting a good supper of shipwrecked Englishmen that night.

In a few minutes we would be among the coral reefs. Then we would be at the mercy of those savages, and they didn’t look as if they had much mercy.”

“So, I went to my cabin, and I told the Lord that I was just on my way to China; that He had sent me; and that I couldn’t get there if I was shipwrecked and killed. I was then going to ask Him for a breeze, but felt so confident about it that I went up on deck. There was the second officer—a very godless man. I went up to him and said, ‘If I were you, I would let down the mainsail.’ He said, ‘What do you want me to let down the mainsail for?’ I said, ‘We have been praying for a breeze, and it is coming directly, and the sooner we are ready for it the better.’ With an oath he said he would rather see a breeze than hear of one.”

As he was speaking, I instinctively looked up, and noticed that one of the sails as quivering with the coming breeze. I said, ‘My good man, there is a good breeze coming, and we had better be ready for it.’ When the mate saw the sail moving, he went to work and soon the sailors were tramping over the deck. Before the sails were set, a strong wind was down upon us, and we moved to safety.” Later Hudson Taylor would reflect on this experience and write, “Thus God encouraged me, before I landed on China’s shores, to bring every variety of need to Him in prayer, and expect that He would honor the name of the Lord Jesus and give the help which each emergency required.”

Prayer is a powerful weapon. Don’t let Satan’s lies discourage you from using this weapon against him.  Don’t listen to him tell you your prayers are not effective or prayer doesn’t matter.

You are never more like Jesus than when you are interceding for others. The Bible says Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and He ever lives to make intercession for us.

Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Maybe you need prayer this morning. Can we pray for you? Maybe you need to make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. If so, believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to atone for your sin. Repent of that sin and publicly confess Jesus as your Savior. Give Him your life by following Him in baptism and you will receive the Holy Spirit who will guide your life and prayers.

  December 2017  
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