Sharing the Word: Prayer: Our Privilege
One of the tremendous blessings of ministering to a community is seeing God at work in answer to prayer. Scripture encourages us to pray for one another as well as strangers. The Apostle John wrote …“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers” (3 John 5 NASB). Paul, in his epistles, repeatedly mentioned praying for fellow Christians in the churches he had established. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Php 1:3- 5 NASB). It is often easier to pray for others and be neglectful in praying for one’s personal needs. A Christian is not more pious and humble to forego prayer for self. In fact, it is important that we realize that Scripture supports praying for our personal needs. Such prayer serves to both encourage others and demonstrate our dependency upon the Lord. The issue is not that God already knows our every need, so why ask? Of course He does. He knows before we even ask. Yet it pleases Him that we avail ourselves of the privilege of prayer to obtain mercy and find grace to help. The writer of the Hebrews expressed this so powerfully and eloquently in writing to Jewish believers in Jerusalem. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16 KJV). The Apostle Paul, realizing the urgency of presenting the gospel and doctrines specific to the Church, urged fellow Christians to pray for him. To the churches in Ephesus he wrote … “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (Eph 6:18-19 NASB). In writing to the churches in Colossi, Paul requested prayer on his behalf … “praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak” (Col 4:3- 4 NASB). But perhaps, the most personal request for prayer is found in his letter to the Corinthians. “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (2 Cor 12:7- 8 NASB). Paul did not get the answer that he expected. Instead “He [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9 NASB). God’s answer provided Paul and us with tremendous confidence and peace in His plan for our lives. It is the privilege of Christians to come before the throne of grace and that we observe the proper protocol in prayer: there must be no unconfessed sin in the life of the believer [in fellowship]; prayer must align itself with the will of God; prayer must be directed to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit. Prayer offered in that manner will be answered as He wills.