Praying for Others
‘And I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David …’ (Zechariah 12:10, NRSV)
So much of life today encourages us to be self-centered and to think only of "me." What a contrast this is to prayer in the Bible, where it focuses not on "me" but on "them."
In the Bible, we find a huge range of things that people prayed about for their family and friends. These included things such as: blessing, as when "the priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling-place" (2 Chronicles 30:27); spiritual growth, like Epaphras who "is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured" (Colossians 4:12); health and healing, as when John wrote, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 John v. 2); protection, as when "Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him" (Acts 12:5); the opening of doors, as when Paul wrote, "Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message" (Colossians 4:3). And these just scratch the surface of things that people prayed for!
Intercession – praying for others – is something of a mystery; but it is one of the key methods that God uses for the pouring out of his blessing upon people. Intercession gets hold of the heart of God through the nudges and promptings of the Holy Spirit and so sees put into action on earth what the will of God is in heaven. Perhaps sometimes, like Paul, we feel that we don’t know what to pray for; but if we will just be still, we will often find that the Holy Spirit drops a thought into our minds about a particular person or situation.
Zechariah saw that the age in which we live would be hallmarked by Spirit-prompted intercession. Let’s not miss the chance to catch hold of that today! Listen for his nudges – and then pray!
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, NRSV)
© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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