If you're a part of our church prayer chain, you know that our church family has had plenty of prayer requests recently. During these difficult times, many have asked for prayer for themselves and family members regarding decisions, trials, health concerns, and loss of loved ones. As we hear of the difficult circumstances that our brothers and sisters are going through, we are drawn to prayer, to go before the Lord and intercede on one another's behalf. As a church family, praying with and for one another is the lifeblood of our union in Christ with each other. I believe this is part of the interdependence that God has ordained in the Body of Christ. Galatians 6:2 says "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Prayer among believers is what makes our relationships different from those of the world. It's one thing to humanly support one another in our own strength (which is a sign of compassion). But it's quite another to care for someone as Jesus would, caring for the soul, and calling on the Heavenly Father to help them. Jesus does this in John 17 asking the Father to protect the disciples, fill them with joy, sanctify them by the truth of the Word, grant them unity, and strengthen their love and testimony to the world.
In many of the cases where you and I feel an urgency to pray, it is because someone is going through a difficult situation. I think if we're perfectly honest, we would rather not have to pray in this way because we'd rather not see our friends and family suffer these hardships to begin with. Nevertheless, we are called by God to intercede, to lift up one another in prayer. However, this should NOT be the only time we pray. If the only time we pray is when we need something, then we need to grow in our relationship with Him. It means a lot when our children come to us in need of help. Doesn't it? It's a sign of their trust and dependence (of course, around our house they go to Mom when they really need something). But wouldn't it be a sad commentary on our relationship with them if they only came to us when they needed something, when they were in a jam or needed money? They didn't share their interests, their feelings, or their joys with us. Talk about being taken for granted. I'm afraid that sometimes my only impetus for prayer is when I need something, even if it's for someone else, and then approach God like a cosmic Santa Claus or a spiritual vending machine.
Prayer is much more than that. I Thessalonians 5:17 says "Pray without ceasing" or "pray continually." That doesn't mean constantly asking God for things. Our prayers should reflect our relationship with Him; a relationship in which we talk with Him, listen to Him, share our feelings, confess our sins, worship Him. These are all different forms of prayer beyond intercession and supplication. We see plenty of examples like this in Psalms. Praying continually also doesn't mean verbally expressing something all the time. I think the essence of it is developing a "lifestyle of prayer" where you're constantly aware of God's presence in your life, walking with Him throughout your day whether at work, at home, in a meeting, with others, in your car, etc. Perhaps you can relate to this but some of the most meaningful times of prayer I've ever had was when I was quiet before Him, no words were spoken, and I just sensed His loving and reassuring presence.
Beloved, I encourage you to remain steadfast in prayer. Pray your way through your day. Let's not just shoot our requests to the Lord but let's walk in His presence and listen for His still small voice.