October Prayer Practice: Praying for Others
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10
Praying for others, or intercessory prayer, is a familiar mode of prayer. In both our private and public prayer, we desire to bring our supplications to God, asking for God’s help and guidance. Our prayers for others are an expression of the love that grows in us as we abide in Christ, who admonishes us to pray not only for members of our own circles, but also for our enemies and those who persecute us. Numerous scriptures encourage us to bring all our cares to God, and especially to pray for the needs of others.
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:14-16
There are many ways to think about how intercessory prayer works. Marjorie Thompson writes in Soul Feast about several different views on the subject that are supported in scripture. These include the view that our petitions change God’s mind, that we ourselves are changed in our wrestling with God, that we give voice our concerns in our total dependence on God, that we join with Christ the Intercessor and trust him with the results, that we increase our awareness of God’s presence, that we increase our trust in God’s will and care. What is your view? How do you understand your petitions as part of your relationship with God?
Though we may never know how our petitions work exactly, we can trust that God hears them and cares for us deeply. While God already knows our concerns, following some general principles when we pray can help us to develop more effectively as intercessors.
- Pray from your heart, without anxiety or hesitation
- Pray with faith, trusting God is listening with care
- Pray with love, for God and for those in your concern
- Pray with persistence, not afraid to keep asking God, but also listening for how God might be prompting you to modify your petition or change your perspective
"Prayer is not a substitute for action; it is an action for which there is no substitute."
--Jane Edwards, quoted in Majorie Thompson, Soul Feast
In the month of October, we will be focusing our prayers on the needs of our world, our community, our church, our friends and families, and our enemies. Lord, make us what you want us to be.
Lord, make us who you want us to be.
Susan Haddox, Lay Leader