Philippians 1: 3-5: "Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (The Message)
Last Wednesday night at church a friend of mine asked the usual conversation piece, "How are you?" Instead of my usual "Fine. Thank you. And you?" response, I blurted out all of my aching, "old lady" problems. "Oh my back hurts." "I cannot get any sleep." etc, etc. She then responded about how she is also struggling with an ailment and then told me she would pray for me. Instead of me telling her I would return the favor, I was distracted by my daughter's misbehavior, and missed out on an opportunity to pray for her right then and there. Hours later as I was tossing and turning in my bed, her softly spoken promise of prayers came to my mind. I immediately felt remorse for not be gracious to her offer, and realized the best thing I could do at that moment would be to pray for her.
How many times have I told someone I would pray for them, and then forget? Just the other day I was thinking about all the people in the past month I have told I would pray for them, only to forget about 20% of them. How selfish of me! Selfish, you say? Yes! Of course it's selfish! The Lord has blessed me with so much. One of the greatest blessings is the gift of prayer. God is not some far off deity who created us and then walked away. He is not one who watches us run around in this crazy world and doesn't step in. He is right here with us! 1 John 4 exclaims "God is love"!! And if God resides in me, then my love should reflect His. Praying for each other, diligently, is one way we can show others God's love.
I had a friend in high school who was so good at praying for others. One day he stopped me in the parking lot after school to see how I was doing. I had had a particularly rough day, and tearfully told him my problems. He told me he would pray for me. I smiled and started to walk away, but he quickly grabbed my hand and told me he meant now. He felt that if someone needed prayer, the present was just as important as the future when he would also pray for me in his quiet time with the Lord. That was almost 20 years ago, and his simple words and actions have stayed with me. We, as Christians, should pray for others. Not just in our quiet times, not just in Sunday School, not just when we see a FB status, but immediately, and, then, in all those other times. If we do that for every person we pray for, we may be on our knees for a while. And that is okay. Psalm 141: 2 says our prayers are like a sweet fragrance to the Lord. How honored I should be that in praying for others I am pleasing the Lord and blessing a friend at the same time!
So in saying all this, I am renewing my commitment to pray for you every time I think of you, as Paul wrote to the Philippians. If God has laid it on your heart as well, I encourage you to pray for others. Prayer is such a great gift God has given us and it is a blessing that all can receive!
Dear Lord, I pray for those who follow my blog, who follow me on Facebook, who see me on a regular basis at church or at the gym or at the mailbox or at The Pig. I ask that you soften their hearts to you. Open their eyes to Your will for their lives. Give them a love that they cannot find in others and a joy they cannot seem to quench. I lift up the nonbelievers. May you bring them close to you so they can see how incredible you are! I lift up the believers. Open their eyes to the many ways they can serve you. Encourage them as they struggle. Remind them that true rest is in your arms. Guide them in serving You. You have blessed us with so many things, and one of the greatest is being able to share Your love with each other. May you be clearly visible through me, and may Your love shine brightly in your children. Amen.